BATE Borisov 1-2 Everton: Match Analysis

02.10.09
Tim Cahill heps Everton surpass adversity to defeat BATE.

Tim Cahill helps Everton surpass adversity to defeat BATE.

It’s football’s ability to show that adversity can be conquered that makes it so enjoyable sometimes. When Everton travelled to Belarus for their Europa League match against BATE Borisov yesterday, they were missing nine players from their first team squad through injury, suspension or intelligibility and when they arrived, stand-in captain Joseph Yobo picked up an injury in training just for good measure.

That meant that Tony Hibbert had to fill in at centre back while young Dan Gosling was forced to drop into the right back slot. It also enforced a change of formation from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 because the only senior player on the bench (except Carlo Nash) was Yakubu, who came in to partner Jo up front and left us with outfield substitutes aged 17, 17, 17, 17, 18 and 19. And this was against a side who have won three league titles in a row and drew with Juventus twice in the Champions League groups stages last season.

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Simulating Progress: One Step Forward but Two Steps Back.

15.09.09
Cool, calm and composed: attributes of a great high-diver.

Cool, calm and composed: attributes of a great high-diver.

So UEFA have back tracked on their decision to ban Eduardo for his blatant dive in the second leg of Arsenal’s Champions League match with Celtic a few weeks ago. After all the discussion that the incident has provoked, this is a pretty tame ending to the saga with UEFA backing down after Arsenal showed that “there was contact between the keeper and Eduardo” and thus convinced UEFA “that the referee hadn’t been deceived in taking his decision on the penalty.”

Eduardo has followed a fine Arsenal tradition that sees players speaking unwisely in public by asserting that he is “very pleased we have finally arrived at the truth” despite the fact that the whole world still knows that he dived, and if anything the abuse he’s received since the incident will now increase. I’m a bit mixed on this reversal though, because while UEFA did somewhat unfairly make an example of the Croatian, it looked like they were finally going to make a stand against diving.

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Gael Kakuta and U18 Transfers: What can we do?

08.09.09

Kakutas case seems to have opened the floodgates.

Kakuta's case seems to have opened the floodgates.

So, because of payments made by Chelsea to the family of Gael Kakuta to “induce” him to break his contractual agreement with French club Lens the London club have now been banned from any transfer activity at all until 2011. Although this sort of punishment has been handed out before, this has the makings of a landmark ruling given that it has been applied to such a high profile club – and indeed the repercussions of it are already being seen throughout England.

Crewe Alexandra who have a tradition of bringing through great young players have apparently reported a Premier League club to the FA over an approach made to one of their 15 year old academy players, Manchester United are rather getting their knickers in a twist over Le Harve’s claims that they tapped up Paul Pogba, while Ken Bates has been (surprise surprise) shooting his mouth off to the press, this time unhappy with Everton’s signing of Luke Garbutt. So what does this all mean for the game?

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Be Quiet Wayne: Claiming Sainthood just makes you a Sinner.

06.09.09

Wayne Rooney: clearly a hypocrite.

Wayne Rooney: clearly a hypocrite.

So on Thursday, despite the entire nation seeing him blatantly dive to win a penalty against Arsenal at Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney insisted that he is an “honest player” who doesn’t deliberately try to deceive the referees to win penalties. A few days later, Rooney – this time in an England shirt – again tumbled to the ground unnecessarily, appealed to the referee and was awarded a penalty. Rooney certainly isn’t the saint he claims to be, mainly because of his own hypocrisy.

And this is what really rankles with me. While I despise players for diving in football, and I think it’s a dishonest and shameful thing to do, I fully understand why they do it. The gain from diving for a penalty is enormous, and the chances of pulling it off in today’s game are very high. It’s no surprise that players do it and we all know that it goes on. The blame for that lies with those who haven’t been forceful enough in stamping it out, but when Rooney makes such hypocritical claims, he makes himself look stupid.

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Young Lions: A Bright White Future?

29.06.09
The Young Lions overcome the curse of the penalty shootout in Sweden.

The Young Lions overcome the curse of the penalty shootout in Sweden.

With England’s Under 21s set to face off against Germany in the European Under-21 Championship Final, English fans could be forgiven for hoping that the future is bright for the national side. After the heartbreak of missing out on Euro 2008, England have bounced back, inspired by Fabio Capello and Stuart Pearce and are in the middle of a far more successful 2009. The question is though, regardless of the result in the final, can England’s talented crop of youngsters fulfill their potential and give England success at senior level?

Their success in this tournament is no one-off either, after they lost at the semi-final stage on penalties to eventual winners and hosts the Netherlands two years ago, and indeed that is their only defeat in seventeen matches since Pearce has been in charge. However, even with such potential evident in England’s younger players, we must acknowledge that success in the youth grades is no guarantee that the senior side will follow suit in the near future, after all the ‘golden generation’ failed to deliver entirely on the big stage.

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Fair Play: A European Adventure

20.03.09
Man City: taking advantage of UEFA's stupidity.

Man City: taking advantage of UEFA's stupidity.

Man City overcame AaB Aalborg on penalties yesterday after slumping to a 2-0 defeat in the second leg. The club-formerly-known as a yo-yo club and now derided for being the World’s Richest Club came very close to being Eliminated from the UEFA Cup, and indeed any travelling fans must have thought they’d blown it when Evans conceded a late penalty. But it is a wonder they are there at all, when you think about it.

Manchester City were, according to the final Premier League table, the 9th best team in English football last season. The ‘big four’ took the four Champions League places, Everton and Villa finished 5th and 6th respectively, qualifying for the UEFA Cup, and Portsmouth won the FA Cup (and finished 8th) to secure their passage in European competition. Blackburn Rovers, who finished 7th in the Premier League last season, didn’t qualify for the UEFA Cup.

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