.You can always tell what sort of match it was by where it comes on the Match of the Day running order. I watched the Fulham game and knew we would be on last even though there was the traditional full programme, just like the good old days on Saturday afternoons.
A 0-0 draw is almost certain to be last anyway, even Hanson, a defender, still finds it hard to appreciate the qualities in a goalless encounter, though not as much as Lineker and Shearer obviously.
But to be fair to them not only was it goalless , it was almost totally lacking in excitement, had very little flair and precious little to put a warm Boxing Day glow in the stomachs of either set of fans. Sherry and mince pies this was not.
Fulham had limited ambitions but in the event could have nicked it late on but for the bravery of Gomes who had already made an outstanding save earlier on from an overhead kick by Dempsey.
We had one shot from Bentley and another by Lennon which were well saved; a glancing header by Ledley could have sneaked in and another by Modric which was just off target. All the accolades went to the back five and apart from Lennon the rest were unmemorable.
Even Modric normally our best player was wayward with his passing. Jenas played like a man who wasn't expect to play after coming on for Huddleston who turned an ankle early on. Bent seemed to be still suffering from the flu and worried about passing something on to his team-mates, including the ball, kept well away from everybody.
The Harry effect has evaporated and the players we are being associated with smack of desperation. Bellamy would be a disruptive influence on our young squad, ignoring his merits as a player which are mainly in the past. Don't let Giovani go for a round of golf with him whatever you do Harry. Downing might well turn out to be another Bentley and you can only carry so much baggage on a misfiring vehicle. He would at least give the attack a better balance and allow Lennon to play where he is most effective, on the right.
We are above the relegation zone, sorry to go on about it, on goal average only. I am beginning to be as doubtful about Harry's team selection as I was about Ramos. What does O'Hara have to do to get a starting place? Or Gunter for that matter. Bale isn't going to improve on the bench. And what about our talented youngsters and reserves? Taarabt, Ghaly, Boateng, Mason, Smith, Obika, Parratt, Rose and Dervite have only mustered about 20 minutes between them all season, although we are still in all the cup competitions.
If Harry regards these competitions as a 'nuisance' in the effort to get clear of 'The Zone' then surely we should have seen more of these players. This is from a manager reputed to be good with young players. I would give any or all of these a try before considering Bellamy. If we only get a point at West Brom on Sunday we could be back in the bottom three, having taken only two of the nine points available over Xmas.
Ledley is another worry. Not only is he only available once a week at best, his mobility looks suspect. He gave the ball away to Duff for their late winner at Newcastle with a weak defensive header; committed a series of uncharacteristic fouls against Fulham, some in dangerous positions, and was nearly undone by Johnson who fortunately tripped himself up before Gomes made the crucial save.
And so we went to W.Brom for another 'must win' game. Aren't they all? Anyway make that one point out of nine .We controlled the game without making any chances until Ekotto, trying a fancy stepover tackle with twist was given a red card for his trouble. Harry said it was a fair decision and Tony Mowbray said it wasn't.
After that the game was predictable. West Brom. slowly saw more of the ball and got a goal eventually despite a push on Dawson by Bednar. With only ten men and Bent on his own we needed to hold onto the ball instead of playing it upfield too quickly. We went for the equaliser and conceded another.
Gomes made several good saves, and a couple of flaps, and the back four were again competent: Modric and Lennon are both playing well but we didn't have an effective striker to capitalise on any chances, not that we made many today. With only ten men the team worked hard, closing down and covering, but West Brom made hard work of beating us and we should have at least held out for a draw. The game was spoilt by poor refereeing and my mood reminds me of the dark days towards the end of Ramos.
I make no apologies for saying that I still have that sinking feeling and no doubt if this poor sequence of results continues more will be joining me. We may be able to bring in some reinforcements in the transfer window but in our current position and with Harry's lack of pulling power I am not confident that they will good enough to save us. Negative thoughts perhaps but one man's negativity is another man's realism.
Harry certainly rescued us and gave us hope and full credit to him for that, but we are still on the edge of the relegation places and the bottom clubs are closing in. I keep hearing that we would have sold our grannies to be where we are today after Ramos left, but, if we do get relegated, I want my granny back.