Tonight was another low point in the Tigers season as an under strength City outfit struggled to match a near first choice Everton side. It wasn't a horrific performance, City were decent in patches, but every time Everton attacked with any purpose, they scored.
Marks out of 10? Zero. The team he picked was pathetic. Our first team would struggle to match Everton, so where on earth is the sense in picking a team that doesn't have a chance? Barmby and Boateng in central midfield? Featherstone? Halmosi at left back? Mendy at right back? A 17 year old with 2 first team starts against Jo and Yakubu?
It was senseless. As soon as I saw the line-up, I knew we didn't have a chance. For lads like Cooper and Cairney, who do have half a chance of making it, it was ridiculous to send them out there in a team set up to fail. To their credit, City were quite bright in patches but were already well beaten by that point.
The most worrying aspect was Browny's body language. He stood on the touchline, arms folded, looking like someone who isn't in control. He introduced McShane and Marney at half time, which stemmed the flow but it was far too little, far too late. There was no need to send out a side like that. Marney and McShane need games. Kilbane and Fagan are fit. Olofinjana and Dawson don't need resting. It should've been a strong City side out because we need every bit of confidence we can glean from games like this.
I make it three games on the trot that Phil Brown's team selection has been highly questionable. It just isn't good enough. Does he look and sound like a man who can turn it around? With heavy heart, I say "no".
Zayatte and Cooper dealt quite well with a lot of Everton's long straight balls in. On the few occasions that they did move the ball well, we were undone far too easily. Cooper was in part at fault for the first two goals. For the first, he got the wrong side of Jo and although he made a superb recovery tackle, that served only to take Zayatte out of the game as he attempted to cover and left Yakubu in acres of space to score. The finish was a fine one. The second came from a diagonal free-kick, Jo simply out-jumping Cooper, who was visibly upset with himself. The young man showed great mettle to recover form the early set-backs and put in a solid performance. Halmosi did Ok at full-back but was caught badly out of position for their third, though a few decent passes had cut through our entire team with ridiculous ease. Goal four came from a free-kick, conceded by Zayatte after a bad error from Barmby. The ball was fired into the wall but sat up nicely for a simple finish. Mendy just isn't a full-back, he doesn't have any defensive instinct. McShane was a big improvement, though he did miss our two best chances of the game. Kilbane's introduction was strange. Nick Barmby was booed off by the "Evertonians" and Kilbane replaced him to a rapturous applause. They must live in some parallel universe. Kilbane was notable only for picking up the games first booking for a bad challenge and making a superb defensive header … from a Hull City corner.
Our central midfield area was again filled by two ghosts. At least, I assume they are ghosts, because with the ease that opponents run through them, they aren't human. Boateng actually had a tidy game when he had possession, but wasn't at all effective without it and his first touch was appalling. Barmby got into some decent positions on the left without ever delivering and defensively, was about as much use as a pair of sunglasses on a bloke with one ear. If Barms and the Boat were there to guide the two young lads along, they didn't exactly lead by example. Featherstone isn't going to make it, no way, no how. He made more passes to Blue shirts than anyone who was actually wearing one. A long, long way short of good enough. Cairney did OK again and showed that he's got a decent mind for the game, he's got good technique and he's confident in his ability but he just doesn't have a second gear. When Dean Marney is a 100% improvement on what was there before, you know it's about time to wave the white flag.
The Front Line
JVoH spent most of his time competing in the air to try and win headers off pathetic lumps up the field. He's incredibly slow, has the turning circle of a Ford Cortina and isn't particularly agile but he can hold the ball up and on the rare occasion that quality passes went into his feet, chest or head, he found his mates. His partner for the night was the best player on the pitch. Ghilas is wonderful. He's energetic and enthusiastic, he'll chase anything, he gets into good positions to receive the ball, uses it ell, rarely squanders possession and he's dangerous around the box. He was totally out of place in the black and amber in this game. His running in behind was beautifully timed. The post denied him a richly deserved goal and he laid a sitter on a plate for McShane, who missed, twice. PB needs to make a note next to his name, "must play unless dead or missing both legs".
The saving grace about the whole farce is that it's only the League Cup. I fancied having a go at winning it but PB obviously doesn't. Browny needs to turn things around and quickly. After the trip to Anfield, we have five "winnable" fixtures. I'm beginning to wonder if Browny is even the man to take us into those games. The team, for all their flaws, still look enthusiastic. The manager looks forlorn.