Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Single Issue Rushed Filler (Everton v Hull)

Ten past five on a busy weekday, crossing The Strand (remember they used to have walk ways over it? They got knocked down in November 2007 didn't they? It was "The Basement Party" night, we played Sunderland and won 7-1 the next day. They were grotty things - as the photographer of the above notes "it stank of piss", there was often an unexplained pile of shorn hair lying around on a Monday morning, and it seemed fairly inevitable and accepted when they were dismantled. Really, though, who did that help? Pedestrians have to wait longer to cross, and the traffic.....has to wait longer because the pedestrians stop traffic to cross. Couldn't they have just de-pissed the footbridges a bit?) and the traffic, as it is wont to be, is relentless. This is literally an everyday occurrence but tonight for some reason a guy next to was fuming and doing 'look how exasperated I am' deep breaths. Eventually he turned to me and implored "what is up with all this frigging traffic eh lad?!"
I mused on it for a second and offered "well....its a very busy road and its rush-hour so..."
He didnt find any fault in that per se, but stomped ahead of me when 'eventually' the lights did change, leaving me with "too frigging sensible you lad". 
Dont have them anymore either -for some reason - bus lanes
Annoyance at a purely factual answer is a bit mean isnt it? Like when people say of the game that launched the "Fergie-time" phenomenon "why on earth were there seven minutes stoppage time anyway?!" - 'well the referee got injured and had to be substituted in the second half, and the delay took about 6 and a half minutes...' 
That's possibly the second most often asked question about Steve Bruce, and the most common is one which has also, co-incidentally,  posed by the metaphorical & quite often literal 'man on the street' - "what happened to Steve Bruce, he looked like he'd been battered when he was on telly last night...""
This? I've had worse tickling my kitten with cotton wool man. Just a tiny bit of nonsense. 
If you ever get pestered about this, you must always fall back on the straight answer "well, what happened was....someone tried to steal his daughter's car, he got in a scrap, saved the car, but took a bit of a whack"

'Ah. Yeah, no I meant the other night, that was a few years ago that happened?'

"No, the exact same thing happened again"

'How many times is that now? Must be the sixth or seventh!'

We're playing Hull aren't we? That's the "point". Looking to extend a 100% home record against 'The Tigers'. The first encounter was January 2009, which we won with a header by Fellaini (overshadowed by him receiving a very harsh booking which meant he was suspended for, as it was, the looming double-header with League Leaders Liverpool) and an outstanding 30 yard 'Ronaldo~esque' instep free-kick by Arteta. 
The former of those two since sold midfielders looked to have a good game at the weekend, now starting six games in a row for Utd, the last four of which have been wins, with another goal tonight. One of the odder episodes of recent times must be his handling last year by a manager who should have known exactly how to get the best out of him, yet got him to look worse than ever before.
That 3-0 stroll looked in every way a harking back to far flung sepia tinged olden days of two years ago when teams went to Old Trafford and meekly took a two or three nil loss and 'got out alive'. A complete cop-out and dereliction of duty by the visiting manager, even against the genuinley top drawer Utd teams. If you look up "FUTILITY" in the dictionary, there's an image of Moyes giving instructions to Tony Hibbert as he prepares to replace Lucas Neill after 84 minutes, when 0-3 down there in 2009. 
Incidentally, Bruce has never beaten Utd as a manager in 21 games. So, them going there on Saturday was less likley to end well than a couple of scals eyeing up his youngest's new Owosso Pulse.
The next year, we routed Hull 5-1 with Arteta getting two (one after a lovely backheel by Pienaar), a wet squib of an own goal by someone, then two nice late finishes by Rodwell & Donovan to give us a cushion we very rarely enjoy. I remember Heitinga actually having a really stylish game playing in midfield here, so its fair to assume the opposition must have been pretty bleak. The main signifigance of this one, hopefully, is that it came on the back of a frustrating and avoidable 1-2 defeat at Tottenham in the previous game. 
Last season was a 2-1 victory very similar to the recent West Ham game: a lucky/offside first goal, equaliser, fiesty challenges, escaping a possible red card, then a sudden flash of class and a lighting break involving a sub who's recently come on and a thoroughly satisfying winning goal. In this case, it was Pienaar the sub who actually slid the finish in, not merely set it up as with Etoo the other week. This was also Kone's last outing - an odd cameo in which he actually did pretty well and made his best contribution since coming - then spoiled it by missing an absolute sitter. Not really the last thing you'd want anyone to be able to remember you doing...
I hope Martinez resists the temptation to go fiddly or hedge his bets for this one with City to come on Saturday. I would pick the current best line-up, and say barring something quite significant they're playing both of these games - we've then got (assuming we play a complete second-string XI for the non-event Krasnodar home game) 9 days to rest before the next league game, so no excuse really for getting too ahead of ourselves. 

We've not won enough games - winning at home to a horribly struggling relegation-fight bound rag-bag team is simply a must. We're 11th as I type and back below a Liverpool side everyone is keen to say have been largely atrocious.  

I could understand Mirallas getting taken off the other day fitness-wise, but when someone's in as good form as he is, he needs to be on the pitch as much we can get away with - 5 goals in his last 6 starts (barring the brief appearance at Anfield) and looking like he could add to that at any point. His approach is what a few of the others need to mimmick - I'd like to see Barkley unload a few mad shots - as without Deulofeu from last season's squad we have reverted to passy-passy slow build stuff a tad at times - Gary Neville picked up on this failing very well the other day. 
0-1 Quinn 72 it is then
Hull havent won for 6 games - Steve Bruce teams always lose form around this time of year - he was sacked by Sunderland at the start of December 3 years ago. The nights draw in, the kids have nothing to do, and it becomes a seige at times - its no wonder his team's begin to lose focus as their manager spends less time working on tactics and more and more time defending his family's property like a medieval moat guardian on the lookout for encroaching hordes. 
The mini-preview in The Guardian today said that their fans have been clamouring in the local paper for Stephen Quinn and David Meyler to be restored to the team, which should tell you everything about how they've been playing. Thankfully, even with a few unresolved injuries, we'ev got a few more enticing options than that. 
I'd move Barkley back in behind Lukaku , drop Eto'o and start Mirallas and McGeady with the idea being to do everything just that bit quicker and commit defenders more. 
Its fantastic to have Eto'o available but, as a personal opinion, he should either play upfront or be on the bench. When he plays deeper he seems (aside form the header at Burnley, admittedly probably our best goal of the season) to me to exaggerate how sensible and team-orientated he an be. There were times at Spurs where crosses wnet in and he was far deeper than any player who is one of the front 4 should be in the box, let alone one who is one of the best goalscorers of the past decade in Europe. At the end of the day, you dont sign Samuel Eto'o to have him doing a Leon Osman impression - without the forward runs. 

Its Goodison, at night, in winter, its getting on for a sell-out, opposition are garbage - it should be boss. And ,as much as it would be neat to note that I'm "too frigging sensible" to think such things ever go to plan, I am think it actually will work out in such a way this time if we play approach it correctly- with a resounding 3-0 win to kick off the festive period. 

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