Recurring bugbears are...
- Tactics. 4-4-2 won us 4th spot two years ago largely because we had round pegs in round holes - the problem wasn't the formation today, although 4-4-1-1 works well on the road, but it was who was squeezed into it and where they were asked to play
- Gareth Bale is no more a right-winger than David Bentley was a full-back; football is simple if you have players in positions that they understand - we should have learned this by now. Strange as it was this that distinguished Harry from his predecessor when he joined
- A game lasts for 90 minutes, sometimes longer, playing to your potential for half of that time doesn't warrant or deserve victory unless you are clinical. If you only play for a half at a time but can't finish, take a part-time wage and lower your expectations
- A little practice could go a long way on set pieces, at least one player should have the appetite to claim the specialism from the edge of the D, that Modric hasn't stepped up to this plate yet is saddening, he has the quality but lacks authority
- Our defence lacks competition for places
- Seven corners should result in at least one goal
- Modric is not a wide player
- Adebayor is proving enigmatic, which is problematic.
I hate this sinking feeling, most of the above are utterly predictable traps for our management team to walk into which should have been sorted out months ago. Harry's interview this evening suggests a combination of rage and denial but no admission of culpability, a shame. How refreshing it would be to hear him say, just once "I got it wrong." I don't want our manager cast as a loser, Harry's way has largely been a winning one but some humility would be nice occasionally in the face of some fairly compelling evidence that the shape hasn't been right since Newcastle.
It's been a rubbish couple of weeks. We have the ignominy of the humiliation at the feet of the Woolwich, the valour of our blunt struggle against United broken up by tiring, expensive cup endeavours which have seen us through but nobbled our 1st, 2nd/ 3rd best central defender (depending on who your favourite is) and compromised our wing play - the Cup win should have been the catalyst for a return to winning ways in the Prem today. But no, we lose to an average Everton team in a match which made me miss Noe Pamarot.
|35 minutes later his season would be over.|
On the upside:
- We are still above Arsenal and Chelsea
- We are still third
- We still have the F.A. Cup to go for - Wembley is just one game away
- Our defence picks itself
- We still have a fantastic squad
- The cricket season is only 25 days away in Essex.
So what to make of our prospects for the rest of the month? My snapshot is... we beat Bolton and get to the semi-final of the Cup, we beat Stoke at home in the league (just, Crouch will score), within a week and a half of today things will look rosier, still third and on the road to Wembley. Lots to do to get to that point but, even with the run we've had, you'd think home advantage and a fit Lennon will carry us over those lines. Confidence is key for what lies beyond.
Because then it's Chelsea away. The crunch. I'll probably save an exhaustive posting on Chelsea and how I like them less than Arsenal for another time (there's something to look forward to) but, much as I don't want to believe that the managerial speculation has undermined us in any real, practical sense... our current dip in form is directly linked to the John Terry's behaviour. The removal of Terry's England captaincy precipitated a managerial change that has had as negative an effect on our season as the defeat to Manchester City. Which is, of course, just another reason to yearn for an end to our Stamford Bridge hoodoo. It's a six pointer on horizon. The way we're going it may decide fourth place and not third, but right now I'd take that. For all the humiliation to that lot down the road, it'll still beat having the cat wave his bum in my face whilst watching Channel 5 on Thursday nights next season.