November 1, 2015 by notjustpumpkinbread
In fairness, I’m a bit stumped as to the content of this one. A straight forward match report would suffice – and if I’d been asked to do one for another website I would have duly obliged – but in this particular instance, that doesn’t feel like it would be enough.
There’s just too much going on around our great club and, quite frankly, in football in general to just tell you what went on at Hillsborough. I will try to do that though, albeit in a roundabout way. You see, buoyed by our performance against Ipswich last week, I felt the need to travel and see our next performance.
I had all the best intentions regarding writing about my first away league visit in a number of years, but that journey home felt really long. And then when I did get home, I wasn’t really in the mood to talk about the day, let-alone write about it. Which was utterly pants for my brilliant wife, who was excited for me about my away-day.
We’re not alone you know. Just take a look at the top four in the league some would suggest is the best in the world.
Manchester City – P11 GD+17 Pts25 – Manuel Pellegrini – by all accounts he’ll be gone by the end of the season, win or lose. They’re top!
Arsenal – P11 GD+13 Pts25 – Arsene Wenger – it seems like half the Arsenal fans of this world think his time is up. They’re second!
Leicester – P11 GD+4 Pts22 – Claudio Ranieri – Leicester fans weren’t exactly enamoured with his appointment at the start of the season. They’re third and now realising the quality their manager brings to the party.
Manchester Utd – P11 GD+7 Pts21 – Louis van Gaal – he’d best move on before the red half of Manchester garrote him for their “boring” style of play. They’re fourth and will probably finish higher this season.
And then, of course, there’s Mr Mourinho, manager of the current Premier League champions. “Sack him! He’s rubbish!” They are genuinely struggling, but there aren’t that many better than José.
We haven’t got a hope! And neither do the clubs. That our manager is attempting to steady the ship with both hands tied behind his back – for that analogy read FFP and injuries – is no small task. A succession of previous managers have been given the keys to the financial kingdom and been found wanting; but that wasn’t for the lack of effort. We’re crying out for some stability and that has got to start somewhere. All but the very few are trying to sing from the same song sheet, but the person holding that sheet doesn’t want anyone else too look.
If you ask me where that performance ranks amongst the games played so far this season, I’d pitch it somewhere between the Ipswich game and our visit to Ashton Gate. We clearly didn’t create as many chances as we did against Mick McCarthy’s team, but were nowhere near as disappointing as we were against Bristol.
Did Wednesday deserve all the points? No, I don’t think so. Watching Dimi Evtimov make a couple of fine saves in the first half and witness Jamie Ward spurn a guilt-edged chance in front of goal gave me hope for some kind of result. He was our brightest player in the that half, out on the left and cutting in when supported by Pinillos. That this didn’t really happen in the second half was a pity. Watching Daniel dance past a couple of Wednesday players and hand Jamie that opportunity was a sight to behold. But as is our want far too often this season, a lack of cutting edge was our undoing.
We were three more players down before a ball was kicked – Dorus, Mendes and Eric all with niggles or knocks – which meant Mr Dougie had to paper over the cracks. It was great to see Dimi making his full debut and a worthwhile experience for 19-year-old Ross Durrant to be on the bench. Bringing Mills in at the right back position meant there was never really going to be any penetration on our right flank, with Chris Burke filling in for Mendes in front of Mills. I’d question whether Oliver Burke would have been a better option, but perhaps Mr Dougie fancied the worldly-wise C Burke to provide a better tracking back option.
We probed but never penetrated, while in our defensive third Kelvin offered Wednesday a couple of chances in his usual languid fashion and Jack was (mostly) solid once again. We were never peppered by chance after chance for the opposition and when the ball finally found its way into the net, it seemed like their only real shot on target in the second half. Once again a long-range effort – this time it was Forestieri – took a slight deflection and managed to squirm under Dimi’s body.
A mistake that ultimately cost us, but one that will not define him or his performance. He made some good saves in the first half and did well to claim the ball when the need arose, while there wasn’t really that much for him to do in the second half. Yes the home side put us under more pressure and yes they danced around our penalty area on a few occasions, but it never really amounted to much. Meanwhile, our excursions into their final third were somewhat stilted, so by the time we replaced Jack with Chris O’Grady, went three at the back à la Ipswich and lumped the ball long it was all a bit desperate.
Our hosts have knocked Newcastle and Arsenal out of the League Cup, are now unbeaten in 8 league games and sit just outside the top six. It’s a game of margins. They were there for the taking and a team with a sharper edge up top may well have done that. It’s not that we’re rubbish – far from it – it’s just that we seem to be lacking confidence and I can’t really see where our next goal is coming from. Apart from Bristol-gate, we’ve only ever lost by a single goal; we’re not getting spanked all over the park. Costly errors at the back, teams taking what few chances we allow and us not taking the plethora we are creating.
So, another game, another chance spurned, another defeat. Where to go from here? I don’t really know, but it was good to see Ben Osborn back in the side and our Henri will be available for that match. You can’t go on current form when considering local derbies. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. Of course, there’s Preston at Deepdale on Tuesday before then. Let’s hope we wear yellow for that one.
COME ON YOU REDS!!!