Sometimes it is better after a game like the feeble effort we mustered against the Premier League’s bottom and easily the worst team, to reflect, and hope that a better sense of perspective emerges, rather than rant and moan…….but I can’t see that happening, so I’m not going to have a breather, I’m going to leap straight in.
Let’s be clear, we weren’t just poor, we were awful. Ok, maybe a chance or two at the death and we might have nicked it, and I for one would not complain, even if I would admit we’d have stolen it. In truth, Palace had the better chances long before our incredibly late rally, despite having only 28% of the possession. If anyone this week comes out with the amazing stats about our possession being in the top 3 in the PL, home and/or away, or they quote stats about Mirallas having highest or equal highest assists (as I read today), then please forgive me if I scream. Barkley has some of the best dribbling stats in Europe. So what. Good start, but do something with it to make the dribbling effective and release a player. His dribbling often leads in to cul-de-sacs and losing the ball, rather than beat three players and free someone in the resulting gap.
But don’t worry, I’m not just picking on young Ross. In fact, reasonably unusual as the name ‘Ross’ is, and having lived with it myself all my life, it is refreshing to hear Goodison or our Away contingent shouting “well played Ross lad” or similar. Not something I’ve heard in my playing career I can tell you – it’s usually something to suggest I should have taken up crochet not football. So, actually, Ross Barkley is just the kind of player we need at the moment.
After a great start to the season, it looks like teams have worked out how to play us. Today resembled the style adopted by the likes of Cardiff or West Brom – you can have all the ball you want, knock it about up there, and we will press you when we want to and you’ll give us the ball and play you on the break. I have never seen so many misplaced passes in the final third as we have mustered so far this season, and it usually comes when we are put under pressure. Spurs did it to us in our own half, Palace didn’t risk being stretched that way, so they pressed a bit closer to their own goal. So let’s carry on with the possession, but don’t fool ourselves that we have the players who can do it like Arsenal who have had a darn sight more years practice at it than us, and players recruited who match the style. We are trying to change the style of most of the players we have got.
But in Barkley, and in Deulofeu, we have two players who know how to undo the pressing game. At the right moment, you have the ball at your feet and drive at the opposition, and other players make runs that create gaps, for themselves, or for the ball holder. But we aren’t doing that. Too statue-sequel too often. Romalu does it, but not today, he looked disinterested, and fair enough you’ll have a game or two like that now and again. Not altogether sure why Jelavic didn’t replace him, but hey, what do I know?
Not a good day at the office, and before someone pipes up and says we got a point and didn’t lose, it isn’t about how many you lose, it’s about how many you don’t draw. If our 5 ‘unbeaten’ draws had instead been two wins and three defeats, we’d have one more point than we have now, but no doubt a shed load of moaners about having had 4 defeats.
Right, that’s it, a two week break to recharge a few batteries, both mine and the players. Hopefully our international ‘stars’ aren’t too involved in a succession of friendlies, and return refreshed and up for the challenge of Liverpool. My hope is that just as we had a rubbish day today, and they had a great one, that the situation will be reversed at GP on 23rd November.
I just wish it was more than a ‘hope’.
Ross ‘feeling a bit hacked off’ Crombie