Just for completeness really, because I can’t think of any new perspective, 3 days on, from another meandering decline to the end of the season.
We won, we were barely engaged, but neither were Newcastle, and we had a little bit of fortune with Gayle missing a really good chance, and ‘saved’ by an outstanding defensive header from Coleman. Apart from that, what was new?
Pickford was largely untroubled, but set himself up for dog’s own abuse when we travel to St James’ Park (or whatever it’ll be called by then) next season, cue, based on current luck, a back pass dribbling through his legs for their winner in the 88th minute. But he certainly gave the visiting Bar Code fans more than as good as he was getting, and we like a bit of that don’t we?
We can talk about our back 4 a bit. It has to be said, that since we’ve settled on Baines, Coleman, Keane and Jagielka, we’ve certainly looked more solid than earlier in the season, when it seemed our defence was selected by the age-old method of pulling names out of a hat. OK, leap down my throat if you must, but Keane has looked at least worth half the amount we paid for him, so let’s hope this is a sign of what he can do in a settled partnership, whoever that may be with next season, so long as it isn’t Williams. I’m assuming it won’t be Jags, who’ll be around as back up, but who it’ll be time will tell.
We can talk about Coleman a bit more though. I’m absolutely convinced Coleman should be our next Captain. Ok, go on, slam me if you must, but his defensive work has been outstanding since his return, his passion is there for all to see (I still watch that goal at Swansea just for him kicking the hoarding), and his determination to come back fitter and better from his horrendous leg break is inspirational. Disagree if you must about his defensive qualities (@terry_smith) but don’t take me on about his passion and leadership qualities. It’s also worth a punt just so we can spend fruitless banter hours wondering why his deep-voiced interviews off the pitch contrast with his high-pitched calls for the ball on it.
We can talk about Schneiderlin too. It says something that he’s now making us all wonder whether we should sell him or not, but let’s be clear: he’s always been a good player, but one who has woefully underperformed this season, not excused by 2 or 3 strong recent performances. The ‘noises off’ seem to suggest a return to France is on the cards (or sur les cartes), and that’s probably right. He’s not performed at the critical times when the pressure has been on to step up; he’s performed best when the pressure has been off. But credit to him, he’s stuck at it, and he’s done ok of late. He’s even got his shorts dirty.
We can talk about Tom Davies. Dear oh Lord, he was dreadful, and he wasn’t on the pitch for that long. I’d sooner have let this boy rest and stuck Beni on who needs more game time. But I won’t join those calling for Tom’s head on a plate. He’s 19, he’s all action energy, he adds something to our midfield as a result, but he really needs to work on his first touch. And his passing. He needs a mentor, one assumes it’s Rooney, but the talent is undoubtedly there, but he looks no more like that rampaging midfielder that scored against City last season (despite his poor first tough in their box remember) than I do. And I’m 59. I know, I know, I only look 35, but that’s having kids for you….
And perhaps, finally (“at last”, you say) we can talk about Tosun. Either he was isolated, or he was disinterested, but he looked nothing like the player of a few weeks ago. He’s not the long term solution to finding a 20+ goals a season player, but since his emergence in to the squad, and now starting XI he’s had a good few games, and I think he’ll be even better next season. But a choice of strikers from him, DCL and A.N.Other could be the answer. Again, time will tell.
That’s it, on to Huddersfield, another lacklustre performance from us in the offing against a team that badly needs a win, and we just don’t.
I could write the OV now…..