Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

By Peter Carpenter 14/02/2016  0 Comments  [Jump to last]
Sometimes I wish I didn't like football and could spend Saturday afternoons gardening or shopping and be completely oblivious to football. Actually, if I had to watch a Tony Pulis team, I would do that, or throw myself off the roof of the stand. But that's beside the point.

What went wrong this time, just as we seemed poised to make a move up the table? The goal... okay, we missed a defensive header and the ball looped over the keeper, who hesitated fractionally as if expecting someone on the back post to clear (hope that's not held against him in selection). But there was no-one there. Why not? If we bring all 10 back for corners, surely we can spare one of them for the post? Maybe we just don't practice defending corners?

It left us with the job of breaking down their 14 centre-backs. Lennon seemed to be the key, going past his man at will but nothing came of it. Why do we always seem to pick out a defender from the bye-line? Look at Payet for West Ham against Norwich – he got to the line, looked up, pulled it back to a midfield player running in from deep... James McCarthy, this should be just your thing, where are you?

That was the key – width. Play as many centre-backs as you like, they won't like to be spread out wide and they won't like fast players running at them. And having players arriving late from deep positions is another good way to break down neanderthal defences. When Lukaku moves out of the middle, who moves into the space he vacates? No-one.

When we had got to half-time without scoring, changes were needed – but why keep two defensive midfielders on when they clearly weren't required? Cleverley seemed to me more likely to contribute going forward and gave a bit of structure down the left. No problem if his replacement was going to be Mirallas, the man tipped to play a big part in the remainder of the season. But Kone!

Mirallas would have stretched them down the left just as Lennon was doing down the right. Kone can't do that left attacker/advance midfield whatever-it-is role that the manager favours. We didn't once get to the bye-line down the left. Poor Kone, the crowd aren't helping a struggling player, groaning before he even touches the ball.

Deulofeu coming on was fine for me, but for Lennon? Lennon actually got to the bye-line to cross, Deulofeu didn't, he cut inside repeatedly, just where the neanderthals wanted him to go. When things aren't working, do something different – Deulofeu down the middle might have scared them.

Talking of doing something different – we never do. Even the corners. Oviedo took some good in-swingers but, apart from one header by Funes Mori, they were all headed clear. It took until about 75 minutes before Deulofeu had a go.

And maybe a short corner for a change? We just tried more of the same throughout and it never worked. We didn't even throw a centre-back forward and lump it for the last few minutes like most teams would do. Is that too ugly for our manager?

The last substitution? Well, that was different. Only his mum would have put Osman on at that stage. What did the manager think Osman had a better chance of doing than Mirallas? Mirallas is this season's Distin. I feel sorry for him and wish him luck at his new club.

We had no Plan B. We did nothing different when it clearly wasn't working and our substitutions only made it worse.

I would like Martinez to succeed but he makes it so difficult for himself sometimes... Time for a spot of gardening.

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