Three starts in a row, and it is starting to look like our Romanian international is not simply cover. He has looked very composed in possession (which is vital seeing as our centre backs see more of the ball than anyone else) and his ability to run forward with the ball is very useful.
At times gets a little complacent with the ball, such as when he fouled Sagbo and picked up a booking on Sunday, but in general he looks a good signing.
Was captain on Thursday and scored a goal, and picked up an assist at the weekend. His selection at left back should not be a long term solution, however, and the sooner Rose is back to full fitness the better.
Andros Townsend, Kyle Walker, Paulinho
So important they were allowed to stay in London rather than travel to Moldova.
Roberto Soldado’s penalties
At last we have someone who scores penalties. There have been times over the last few years where whoever has been designated our penalty taker – Defoe, Bale, Keane, Adebayor, Dempsey, Huddlestone – has not exactly inspired confidence, and there was a worrying thought in the back of our minds that a Spurs penalty was a prime opportunity for the opposition to hit us on the counter. No longer with Cool foot Rob on the case.
We were all bricking it when he disappeared, the stretcher went over, and he did not reappear for minutes. To then see him up was great, to see him running to get back on the pitch was legendary.
Picked up some air miles.
A week after stating that he wanted to get back into the Premier League starting XI, there has been no sign of Younes. We all know how immense he can be when fit and on form, but will we see those days again? Dawson’s new three year contract might have a lot to do with doubts over the Frenchman’s long term fitness.
It takes a brave man to have a pop at the supporters who, by definition, support the team.
What is most striking about AVB’s comments is how he praises the away support, and lauds our away record, and talks about us playing with no fear, yet at the Lane it is the atmosphere to blame. The match on Sunday followed similar patterns to other games at the Lane and in Europe – lots of possession, mainly between the two centre halves and two deep midfielders, a struggle to get into the final third and create opportunities, all the while looking fragile at the back.
Plan A seems to be “once we are ahead, exploit the spaces and hit in the counter”. The problem is there is no plan to get that first goal, and the longer we go without scoring the less likely we are to score. Our earliest goal in the league was Sigurdsson’s 19th minute strike against Chelsea – we start slow, we get slower, and if the opposition are not coming at us we struggle to break them down.
Having watched the Hull highlights from Match of the Day 2, it is striking that no matter if we are attacking or defending, we are outnumbered! When we go forward we have so many men deep and so few occupying the defence it is no wonder we score so few, and then when we get hit on the break the opposition stretch us and flood forward and we look fragile.
This is a problem of responsibility and formation when we have the ball. A scenario that has happened roughly 1,459 times so far this season is a centre back, say Dawson, has the ball, fifteen yards inside our own half. He has his centre back partner to his left – that’s fine – and a central midfielder showing for the ball. That’s great, let’s start working some triangles. Then the central midfielder comes so deep he practically takes the ball off Dawson’s toes, while the other centre mid is nearly as deep, so instead of working triangles we have a tight, rigid square with the ball going forward, left, back, right, forward, left, back, right, in fact it reminds me of this clip from The Simpsons (0:50 seconds in) "Centre Holds" . This means the number 10. Comes deep, the wingers drop deep, while Kyle Walker seems to be playing in some right of centre anchor man position rather than getting wide and running outside of Townsend, who should be allowed to roam inside and join Soldado when he is being man marked. I’m not blaming Walker for that by the way as he has clearly been instructed to play there but the whole system is wrong. When we have the ball we go deep and narrow, when we don’t we are wide and open.
We are so lacking in imagination or forward intent that when a sniff of an opening, a half chance for a break, or the whiff of a raised tempo and the ball does not get to Townsend then we end up going backwards, and we repeat our stoic, ineffective football ad infinitum.
Even when the crowd did get up did the tempo improve? Did the team play better? The truth is if we had sung for the full ninety minutes the only difference it would have made is I would not have a voice this morning. There are problems with this team, Andre, and the fans are way down the list.
Saying that we were crap on Sunday, but the performance until the penalty was exactly the same as the one that had seen us lose 3-0 to West Ham, so I think a certain level of apprehension was inevitable.