The Blog that's not always wrong.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Remember Roma!

What did the game against Olympiakos tell us?
Firstly that you shouldn't draw too many conclusions from pre-season friendlies. Remember Roma!
They weren't really bothered so its difficult to judge Bassong's performance. He didn't do very much because he had no pressure and he did it competently apart from one 'Newcastle' moment which he just about retrieved. He looked sound enough.
How does he do that? Spends the whole summer in Levy's pool and comes on as smooth as the smoothest thing since Mr. Smooth put 'NappyRash Cream' on Baby Smooth's bottom. A top class act.

Naughton looks Premiership ready apart from the odd misplaced pass.
Rose could make the grade this season. Tricky and knows where the byline is.
Boateng seems to have calmed down and played some good passes.
Crouch A very tall person which seemed to encourage his team-mates to punt the ball up to him at a great height which was boring and ineffective.
See under tactics.
Livermore Going on a month's loan to Derby. Not far off squad standard.
Bostock Another that looks strong and capable. Could make the squad.

Old Hands
Modric The pick as usual. Pass inside the full back to Lennon to set up the first goal was a gem. Encourages others to play.
Pavlyuchenko Scored one, made one and showed for the ball well. Could be 'the man' this year.
Gomes and Cudicini Good stoppers though neither kicks well. This position seems sorted.
O'Hara Another good performance by this unfashionable and underrated player.
Defoe Lively, keen and determined to score which he did. Denied a clear penalty.
Keane I was not impressed as he and Crouch seemed to be trying to re-invent the old Berbatov/Keane dynamic duo. Important element missing there though. Didn't benefit from being partnered with Crouch. So that's two players he can't play with. Give it time Jimmy, give it time.
Huddleston Usual performance, slowed after half time ,some excellent passes and some poor.
Ekotto Always offers the goalkeeper and the centre halves an out, once they stopped whacking the ball in the general direction of Crouchy. Air controllers on full alert.
Corluka Usual. Looks slow but skill gets him out of trouble. Good goal from close in.
Bentley Wants to succeed tries hard when on the ball but doesn't quite have it for me. Been reading Zokora's shooting manual.
Chimbonda Could be a useful utility player this season. Should have scored.

My fear was that the arrival of Crouch would lead to us playing the long, high ball game and though I was assured by fellow fans that this would not be the case it did pan out that way. Olympiakos just sat back and picked up the second ball.Whether this was on Harry's instructions or against his wishes I don't know.
In the second half with the arrival of Defoe and Pavlyuchenko, Lennon, and especially Modric we got the ball down on the grass, passed it sweetly at times and scored three good goals. Defoe and Pavlyuchenko look a more promising first choice pairing than any of the alternatives but with Keane as captain I am not holding my breath.
Hopefully this high altitude game will be stamped on by Harry. But as with the purchase of Bent you assume that there was some tactical purpose involved, perhaps just to give us a variation of attack but some tactics don't suit our playing style or tradition and just as Bent's transfer was a bad move for him and us, so too with Crouchy perhaps. He's better on the floor anyway.

But its early days and as the title suggests you can't read too much into one pre-season friendly can you?


MJBarrow said...

Fair assessment of the squad

Dont think you can really make comparisons between this game and roma - so much has changed between then and now.

A plethora of players that *could* work alongside SGT Wilson (new and current squad members) - who has the balls to step up to the plate though?!

MJBarrow said...

Ps. Would love to see Keane adapt his game to an attacking / creative midfielder.

Anonymous said...

If we are going to do well we need to be able to change the type of football we play against teams long ball short ball quick flowing passing we need to get results and if you don't have that choice you are not going to win things simple as

Anonymous said...


Corluka- King - Bassong - Ekotto

Lennon - Palacios - Jenas - Modric

Defoe - Pavlyuchenko

Anonymous said...

Don't worry too much about high balls. It would be stupid not to with someone 6'7" in the box!

Anonymous said...


May 2010

1. Chelsea
2. Man United
3. Man City
4. Tottenham
5. Liverpool
6. Arsenal
7. Aston Villa
8. Everton
9. West Ham
13.Blackburn Rovers
14.Bolton Wanderas
15.Stoke City
16.Wigan Athletic
20.Hull City

Anonymous said...

No-one's forgotten about Roma.

Are you excited? And have you written this article in order to bring yourself down to ground? To protect yourself from disappointment?

If you respond to this message, then we'll know it's true ;)

Anonymous said...

There will be sides against which the long ball will be highly effective. The point is that we have a squad (and a bench) that allows us to play in a variety of ways in order to unlock defenses. When Defoe / Crouch were together at Pompey under Redshnapps, they played with good width (particularly from the full backs) and caused a lot of problems. We will be able to play that way, as well as offering variation from Keane and Pav, who can come short as well as get behind defenses.
I am also excited with our options from midfield, with Lennon, Modric, Bentley all offering slightly different things, we have have the ability to cause teams a lot of problems. Also Jenas will thrive with Sgt Wilson offering solidity.
With a bench of 7 this season, we can accommodated a multitude of changes from the sidelines to affect games.
I am genuinely excited as I feel we have the firepower and guile to unlock every team in the premiership. It will come down to tactics and the stregth of character of the players themselves but I think we can have a very positive season!!

Anonymous said...

We've got the best squad since BMJ left - where was Hutton sunday? He has had a good pre-season so competion for RB will be intense but I see Corluka playing in the middle short term.
I would rather see Naughton Rose Livermore [although he is with Derby for a month] and Bostock given a chance over Bentley Boateng & Jenas. I can see Robbie Keane playing instead of Jenas too!
Our other young Kyle [Walker] played very well for Sheff Utd at the weekend - 2 good buys but as they develop they must be brought into the top squad.

Anonymous said...

Hutton was on international duty (the Scotland squad shipped out early).

I dont understand why everyone is so keen to drop Jenas. The guy is a great footballer and he compliments Palacios very well. They played well together when we went on our good run last season and he is effective. If we want to succeced as a team, we need to back players like Jenas.

Yes the youngsters like Rose and Bostock should get there chance, but it should be from the subs bench mostly this season with starts in the Carling Cup.

zeespur said...

all been said in response here......
roma was a different set of circumstances...
ramos,, although proved with sevilla, showed tactics were found wanting ? due to lack of tactical EPL experience with a new squad.after the carling cup season ended(jol squad).etc...the opposite of currently Redknapp/Bond,!....
so redknapp signings are jigsaw pieces enhancing the existing team who have settled in.....

jenas thing like bentley is getting too predictable.....just support them

JimmyG2 said...

No but it is possible to get carried away as I did last year after an excellent pre- season.
'who has the balls to step up to the plate though?!' OHara as a first step though personally I am a great admirer of Jenas and think he plays well with Palacios. After that Boateng might do it this year.

JimmyG2 said...

Anon 1148
You're onto me. Recommend the 'Topspur' pre-season prediction Vox Pop coming up later in the week. If you want to see what I said last year see Musings for August 2008 'Dream the impossible Dream'
Most embarrasing!

JimmyG2 said...

You are heading for a fall my boy but I hope you're right.

Anon 1204
Good thinking here and if high balls are an occasional tactic all well and good.
They wern't while Crouch was on against Olympiakos though.

A lot of positivity here and good to see
support for Jenas.

Anon 1140 Your team is my team, spot on.

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