Is it me or is our Great Leader beginning to look a little forlorn? He has the look of a Martinez about him, and perhaps with good reason.
A little bit too much Rabbit-In-The-Headlights for me.
OK, some disclaimers to start. We have a newly assembled squad, some of whom are new to the Prem, and those that aren’t seem to be our best performers overall. We got beaten by Chelsea then everyone clears off on an International break, reducing the chance to analyse and act on rectifying what went wrong, but more importantly build on what little that went right at Stamford Bridge. And then we’re playing against a team that has played together for most of the last two seasons, plus one or two, honed by a manager that clearly knows what he wants and how things should be played.
But these things sound like excuses to me, rather than proper mitigating circumstances. Is there a difference? Who knows, not in the mood to argue about it.
It is certainly true that Sandro and Klaassen are not up to pace in any way shape or form at the moment; if that’s not surprising as they’ve only recently joined the Prem, then what is really surprising is that they are starting games rather than being eased in as subs. It’s beginning to look as if the Manager has a certain stubborn streak, and only flexes in adversity. Perhaps we got wind of this when last season he said that Davies was “not the answer” and yet the lad got his pick and then played most of the rest of the season. Surely Davies should be starting, or is his confidence being subtly undermined by not being a first pick every week, and what damage will that do? Or is he acting to prevent burn-out?
Sandro looks about as effective as a man from a second rate Spanish side at £5m you’d expect to be. But I don’t doubt his talent, not one little bit, but he doesn’t look adjusted. DCL is adjusted and has performed admirably, so why not pick him and sub Sandro if needed?
And then Right Back. Are we really expected to believe that Cuco is the best available RB at the Club at the moment? The lad has pace to burn, whips in a mean cross, and I like that; but he cannot defend, and I literally mean ‘cannot’. He stands too far off his man, his headers lack conviction, and seems to lack any degree of precision, assuming you don’t want him to head it back in to the danger zone, a sight yesterday echoing a similar failing from earlier this season. Holgate is the better defender at RB, and there is a universal clamour for Kenny to get his chance. Doing the right thing for Kenny and moving Holgate alongside Keane would give us a youthful and inexperienced back line, but what exactly is the benefit of the more experienced rearguard? Williams appears to have lost it, Jags is either out of favour or knackered, and Baines had one of the poorer games he’s clocked up amongst the 300 he’s played. Having said that, he was the best defender for me yesterday, which says a lot.
I can’t bear to over-analyse a gutless inept performance. It strikes me too much of a moan-in, and that’s just not my style. What I want is for the Manager to rectify what seems obviously wrong, and take the big calls. We knew we’d struggle early on with this fixture list, and you can’t expect a new team/a new squad to gel under the pressure that a superb Spurs and Chelsea inflicted on us; it’s about taking the tough decisions now that will set us up to succeed when under pressure, but less of it – post Man United probably; although the moment you assume that anyone out of the top 6 is a soft, or even softer, touch, football will bite you hard in the bum.
On which note….