The Blog that's not always wrong.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

It doesn't add up Watson

I was sitting there at half time last week not quite sure whether to believe. We had stuck a foot in, nothing had fallen their way, Gomes was brilliant, we had ridden our luck and put our two chances away. What could go wrong?
Now this was not some shrewd analysis and tactical genius on my part. I always feel uncertain even though we had got that vital second goal . We kept it tight for fifteen minutes so that was another football adage ticked off and we had kept it tight for 120 minutes at Wembley so there was nothing to prepare us for the deluge to come.

But surely a dodgy penalty, or an iffy sending off shouldn't derail a team quite so badly.
But in the last blip against Blackburn the team and Harry were slow to react. There didn't appear to be a plan B. It might not have made any difference: taking Keane off and putting Zokora on for instance or substituting Corluka for Hutton but something needed to be done if only to prove to the team that there was some thinking going on in those fancy coaching seats and not just amateur dramatics.

I am not a subscriber to the 'blip' theory, the 'que sera sera' school of management. I want my manager and my captain to exert some influence on what is happening on the pitch. I want some analysis of what went wrong and how it can be prevented. Keane was all over the place and in truth hasn't played well for two or three games. Making him captain I predicted would be hostage to fortune and so it has transpired. But King was on the pitch, Jenas and Woodgate have all worn the armband this season but we played like tea strainers. Everything vital was allowed to pass through.

A good team, playing well, Europe glimpsed flirtatiously up an alleyway, five consecutive clean sheets at home, a possibility of an 89 yr old record of clean sheets at The Lane and we concede 5 goals in 30 minutes. Well of course it was at Old Trafford, and we do have form there and referees too. But I ask you. They are the world champion club side but we have matched them all the way this season but not for the final half hour on Saturday. It doesn't add up Watson.

It raises the old chestnut as to whether we are serial bottlers as this is not the first time we have given up a two or even a three goal league. Perhaps we lack something somewhere: another hatchet man in midfield; a sports psychologist on the touchline. But our current hard man was very fortunate to be still on the pitch after an aggressive two footed lunge at Ronaldo which fortunately didn't connect.

However we are at home this weekend against the bottom of the league, a footballing team that will offer us the opportunity to play but after last weeks collapse I am not as confident as I should be.

But in the event we had a stroll in the sun, kept a clean sheet again and won it with ease without actually exerting ourselves. We didn't play as if our thoughts were on Europe other than for our summer holidays.

Modric looked as if he was trying but the game was crying out for Huddleston to give us a bit of creativity and change the direction of the attack, and the pace of the game would have suited him. Keane was all over the place again and Lennon our most potent attacker. Gomes was brilliant and Ledley played with calm assurance in front of Capello. None of our England hopefuls did themselves any harm including Jenas.

Its a four way split for the 7th place Europa finish and with Liverpool and Everton to come, away, we might be pushed to make it. The Man City game is crucial but our goal difference is inferior to them and Fulham. But after the season we've had, two points in eight games in case you've forgotten, we've done well to be even thinking about it and from the lethargic way we played for most of the time today we look as if we've called time on this season.
We have this wonderful attitude and way of playing at times that endears me to Spurs. A sort of condescending arrogance. But after last week you sometimes wonder quite where it comes from and whether we deserve to employ it. I wouldn't have it any other way though

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