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The problem is obvious...
at 21:47 23 Oct 2021

... the solution not so much. If you concede two or more goals per game (as we have done in ten league and cup games), it is very difficult to get anything out of them. to our credit we have in half of them -Middlesboro, Barnsley, Reading, Preston and Everton. But of course it is not sustainable. After a while either one of two things happens; Eether the defence tightens up and the team has an upward trajectory, or the goals dry up at the other end and the numbers in the 'lost' column start to stack up. Unfortunately it is the latter for us and the problem has been exacerbated by the lack of potency in front of goal, particularly from Austin and Gray.

But let us not allow this prolificacy in front of goal to distract us from the real problem, as much as Warburton might like us to focus on it. The stats don't lie and racking up 27 or 28 consecutive games in which we have scored at least once is a phenomenal achievement . The problem clearly lies further back, because even only scoring one goal should secure at least a draw some of the time, yet against Bristol City, Bournemouth, WBA, Peterboro and Fulham (emphatically) it failed to do so.

So, as I said in the intro, identifying the main issue is easy (although, like an alcoholic, unless you are prepared to take the first step in admitting there is a problem, there is no possibility of a solution). Some feel the return of Sam Field will automatically solve the problem, but I am less than convinced of this. Field seems to be a good player and has physical attributes that should help, but heavens above, the lack of big strong lads In our defence or deep-lying midfield is not an issue. Ball, Jorgi, Dunne and Dickie are all well able to take care of themselves in most physical battles, so the problem (and by extension the solution) lies elsewhere.

For me, the lack of pace among the back three and central-midfield is the primary problem, and hopefully Field's return will help that somewhat. But this slowness causes a two -fold problem. The obvious one is that when teams attack us with pace and purpose, cut through us very easily, Peterboro and Fulham the most recent examples of that, but there have been numerous others. Secondly, with Warburton's passion for building out from the back, the lack of pace in the centre of defence/midfield means that it is far easier for the oppos to impose a high press and cause individual errors like Dickie's against Bournemoth, which was a complete game -changer as we had dominated the opening ten. Individual errors result in goals, result in less confidence both individually and collectively. Less confidence, increases the risk of individual errors and on and on it goes.

So if we can't change our defensive personnel too much, how can we reduce our 'goals against' column? I think the most common consensus regarding our turnaround last season, apart from the success of the four loan signings (all our players now), was the new, more pragmatic approach from Warburton. Knocking it long earlier basically. Charlie coming deep, demanding a longer, more direct ball and spraying it wide, left and right to get our attack moving. We seem to abandoned that again now. We seem to have to always play out from the back, which even against zero pressing from Blackburn, was excruciatingly slow. Why Charlie has gone into his shell and is no longer doing what he was doing last season is open to conjecture - unfit/ carrying a knock/can't be arsed - take your pick. But if he is not doing it, we have others more than capable of playing that role, Dykes immediately springs to mind, but Chair or Willock could also. If we were to move the ball quicker out of defence, at least some of the time it would not only put the oppos on the back foot, from an attacking perspective, but would leave us less open to being ran through also as we would be much less predictable to play against.
Whatever the solution, we need to find one.
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A good night for us
at 21:56 20 Oct 2021

Results went our way tonight and we hold onto our 5th place position. Looks like Swansea did to West Brom what West Brom did to us. Clive's forecast that they may slip off the automatic places may well prove right. Very big win for Bournemouth last night, they and Fulham seem nailed on at this early stage. I would be happy to have a crack at West Brom in play-offs, either over two legs or at Wembley ( a man can dream)
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Brentford
at 21:12 16 Oct 2021

Excellent second half performance. Such a pity they didn't give Chelsea a bloody nose.
[Post edited 16 Oct 21:14]
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The actual Fulham thread
at 14:30 15 Oct 2021

So going for three in a row here, but I suspect my biggest challenge yet. I'm going for a thrill -a-minute 2-2 draw, with us being ahead, behind and finally a last-minute equaliser from Willock. Probably be 0-0 so! Austin also to score.
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Not the Fulham match thread, thread.
at 23:38 12 Oct 2021

A few days to go, but just wondering is everyone happy for me to perpetuate the myth that I am responsible for our last two wins by starting the match thread, or does someone else want to have a go for Fulham?
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The 'Two days early, very busy weekend', Preston match thread
at 16:01 30 Sep 2021

Apologies for early thread, but a lot on for the weekend . I think Saturday will be a case of just checking my phone for updates. Anyway, I'm going for us to make it six points out of six, with a narrow, hard-fought 2-1 victory. Willock and Chaz.
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The 'Going back to what we do best but with still some issues ' match thread
at 13:03 28 Sep 2021

I thought I'd have a go. The last one I did was 3-0 v Coventry last season. Called it too. Don't think we'll repeat that, as clean sheets are like hen's teeth, going for 3-1. Two for Austin and Willock with the other
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A few thoughts on tonights game
at 22:29 24 Sep 2021

Obviously Dieng's error a turning point, but I thought we were off in a few other areas too.
* Despite scoring in record time, I thought Gray was poor overall. Not faulting his attitude or application,just couldn't make the ball stick (not really his strength) but failed to run in behind the defence often enough (which is) and often strayed offside. With the ball coming back it invited extra pressure on us
* Removing Willock was an error. The one player with genuine guile who was troubling the West Brom defence and with great composure. His removal meant we just played hoofball which played right into their 3 CB's hands and further negated the effectiveness of Gray
* A lack of urgency even in added time . Against Barnsley and Reading we were busting a gut to get a goal, it never looked likely here
* Chair still has that need to get his shot away regardless of better options. He wa doing it last season, so either it hasn't been coached out of him or he is not listening. When it works (Barnsley) it looks wonderful , but a simple chip sideways tonight and Dykes had a tap in and the game is over
* We went on a run last season of conceding two goals per game and we are doing it again. It means we have a mountain to climb to even get a point from a game. As a unit our defence looks solid, but individual errors are killing us
* Injuries mounting up. Last season (apart from Amos, obviously) we remained relatively injury free,despite the compressed fixture list. This year they are mounting up and we are losing players in key positions. If - as looks very likely - we have now lost Johanson with a hamstring for a spell, it is really starting to bite. We know that Dozzell is not yet ready,hopefully Amos will be able to get involved in the coming games. Likewise, while Barbet was solid tonight, he is not a lwb and plays his best football as the left of a three, so losing both Wallace and McCallum is a setback.
POSITIVES
Wanted to finish on a positive note:
* I thought Moses was much improved tonight and a contender for MOM. He was lively, solid and caused problems down the right. as well as defending well.
* I thought Dunne was also excellent and in the (likely) event of Jorgi missing games, I would have no concerns about him stepping in.
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Dieng
at 21:52 21 Sep 2021

What a super shot stopper !!! Wooohhooo
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Dieng
at 20:09 18 Sep 2021

Controls his area very well. But he doesn't err... actually save many shots does he?
[Post edited 18 Sep 20:13]
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A few thoughts on last night
at 11:08 15 Sep 2021

So I had the game taped because I was at the Rovers game (we won!) and didn't want to comment until I had watched it myself.
1 I suppose the significance of Dickie's error was not so much the concession of a soft goal, but rather it completely changed the dynamic of the game. We were completely on top for the first 10 and their first goal stopped us in our tracks
2 We have a problem at right (wing) back. Not going to bang on about Kane, but not sure either Moses (anymore) or Kakay are good enough
3 We simply can't keep giving teams two goal leads and expect to get something from the game. Yes we easily COULD have got something from the game, but the law of averages said it was simply not going to keep happening
4When Warburton gets the subs right, he is rightly lauded. Last night I thought the removal of Dykes and at the same time putting on Adomah was wrong. Dykes got no service, bar one headed effort. Yet the ball was constantly being pumped in to Gray - not his strength.
5 The ref overall was okay, But Zamoura and Willock should both have seen red though. He also (but this is not just peculiar to him) did nothing about Bournemouth time-wasting. However, he is not the reason we lost
6 We can't expect Adomah to be our saviour every time he comes on. On Saturday he was excellent, last night mediocre.
7 We were never going to go unbeaten all season. We lost, but played very well in parts, when we get Wallace/Amos/Field back we will be even stronger
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Dickie and Willock
at 22:58 2 Sep 2021

Apologies if this has already been covered - a quick glance down the thread and couldn't see it. Nice to see TWO Rangers players make the team of the month. Think Dieng can consider himself a little unfortunate to not make it three - if he could just add penalty saves to his repertoire!
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Ireland
at 22:40 1 Sep 2021

Of course all the headlines will be about Ronaldo tomorrow and there is no arguing with his achievement. But this was a very positive performance from a generally very inexperienced Irish team. Was particularly impressed with Ida up front. First indication since Kenny took over that you can see what he is trying to do.
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