|one fifth of the way in|
Written by basilrobbiereborn on Tuesday, 30th Sep 2014 12:28
Nine league games in and our season shows no real sign of picking up. A lot has been made in the last fortnight of the better performances we have been seeing since the first international break. We are undeniably playing better, and can say with some justification that we are probably not getting the rub of the green. But the stark fact is that this perceived improvement has yielded two points and one goal in four games. Whichever way you look at those statistics, they clearly don't give much cause for optimism.
It's not all that easy to put your finger on precisely why we are failing to get results. We are not the only side in the Division who lack quality, but most people who have watched us regularly this season would probably agree that some basic building blocks are in place. The goalkeeper has been very good, the two centre backs more than a pleasant surprise, and if we have lacked creativity with the ball, we have at least been well organised and hard to break down when we don't have it.
The main problems, for me, start when we do have the ball. For one thing, Zenjov apart, our front players are much of a muchness, and any opposing back four who get tight to our front two and make them play facing the wrong way have contained us pretty well. Ranger has pace, but rarely gets chance to use it ; Miller has muscle, but rarely has the inclination to make it count. I like Zoko, who has something about him. But playing him wide may be dissipating his ability to influence games. Delfouneso continues to be at best an ephemeral presence, and the unwillingness to consider Barkhuizen completely baffles me. It's only six months since we watched him terrorise the best defence in the Championship.
Midfield though, is the real worry. There isn't much in the way of incisive passing (although when Perkins did find one on Saturday, we promptly scored). The physical presence doesn't seem to be there either, and whilst I like Edu Oriol (and to a lesser extent Orlandi), players like them need to be backed by a sitting midfielder with the ability to put his foot in when we do lose the ball. Cubero might be that man, but on the basis of one appearance, he clearly wants to be on the ball as much as he can. Whatever way we play, we need to be quicker to stop sides counter-attacking at source, because as things stand we are making life more difficult for our back four than they need or deserve.
I am still unconvinced by the manager - he doesn't seem all that tactically innovative to me, and whilst he would argue that he is doing the best with what he has, so far he has failed to impress. The unpalatable truth is that much of our most threatening football this season has been played when we have been two down, and revert to lumping it long to the forwards. So much for systems. New personnel changes all this somewhat of course, and with at least a couple of triallists at the club we may have something different to talk about in the next few days.
It should be said that , it is still early days , and at the time of writing (before the "Boro game), a third of the League are averaging a point a game or less. Whilst it is like this, a couple of wins is all it takes to get back into contention and give us something fresh, and a lot more tangible, to fight for. Let's hope that this is precisely what we are talking about by the weekend.
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