Lisbon all over again
Another year, another bottle job as a shambles at the back costs us again.
I`ll start off the post-mortem by quoting Glenn Roeder:
'They are not good goals we conceded. Too often crosses come into our box, they are not defended properly and bad decisions are made. I have to find defenders who are good enough to play in front of Shay Given. Shay Given is a top drawer keeper but he does not get the protection he should get. He is exposed far too easily. Too many defenders make too many mistakes that cost us points. They do well, you are happy with them and you think they have learnt. Then 'bang' they go and make the same mistake again and let you down.'
An appropriate start by the boss but our problems ran much deeper than that. For those that didn`t see the game they missed a Newcastle side devoid of passion, attacking intent and any composure that might have prevented two goals going in. Straight away, upon leaving the country at Newcastle Airport, there was that horrible sinking feeling when Roeder mentioned that "we don`t have to score a goal to go through". Super, smashing, great. A negative mentality of defending, rather than finding the goal that would force AZ to score three. That set the tone.
Following that up the usual stream of sh*te flowing from our players in the local rags quickly followed. Predictably Dyer and Taylor with their chums Luke Edwards and Alan Oliver were at the centre of things but the usual rent-a-quote suspects were out in force:
• "Duffer - I`ll prove my worth" - £5m, 60k per week - no you f**k*ing didn`t Damien.
• "Kieron is aiming higher in Europe" - high as in monged in a coffee bar sense?
• "Tayls is fit for the big one" - Jesus wept, after last night`s efforts he should have stayed crocked.
• "Time to deliver - Roeder tells Bramble" - fat lot of use that order did.
In terms of empty vessels making the most noise we have a team of world beaters. In terms of delivering on those promises we`ve the equivalent of East Stirling. Why can`t they keep schtum and just get on with the job?
Moving on…Roeder`s tactics - left a lot to be desired would be a gross understatement. He and he alone has to accept the responsibility for the negative tactics and stupendous team selection and substitutions. N`Zogbia with 5 minutes left? Really worthwhile Glenn. The lack of Milner - puzzling. The inclusion of Emre - desperation to keep him at the club despite the fact he`s been barely average. The sum total of our tactical possession play and build up involved Bramble hoying 60 yard punts to Martins and losing possession rather than keeping the ball. Clueless doesn`t do it justice.
As for the players on the pitch and those off it, it`s time for a purge. Out with Bramble, Moore, Carr, Babayaro and Emre for starters with question marks put on Dyer, Duff and Parker, given the latter`s seeming inability to gel with whoever we play with him in midfield. Sibierski has to drop down the pecking order by the start of next season. I think the lads been great but now, at this stage of the season, it looks like he`s running in quicksand. Give Edgar a run in the side, play Carroll for more than 3 minutes, play people in their correct positions - what have we got to lose now?
Looking at the last 9 months I`ll ask are we honestly any further forward than last year? Simple answer - no. Martins has proved to be a decent signing but we do little to actually help him score goals. Our defensive remains as porous as ever. Our midfield doesn`t have a Scooby about how to play together. Our great hopes for the future, Taylor and N`Zogbia, have for one reason or another had seasons to forget. Our flanks remain massive problem areas. Our cup attendances have been poor and in the league turnouts will dwindle as we go through a procession of nothing games. Two takeover bids have fallen by the wayside and the top 4 seem to be pulling further away.
One year after the Shearer era and nothing has changed. Will it ever?