PFA player and young player of the year winner, while I don’t agree that a player can win both, it is a remarkable achievement for our Welshman. He also scored a very fortuitous goal.
A first start since.....for a long time. Tom’s passing is a unique attribute, arguable anywhere in the Premier League. He has said he wants to play games, AVB has said he wants to keep Hudd, and with Dembele’s injury Tom can expect an extended run for the remainder of the season. I’m a Huddlestone fan but it’s clear he has not kicked on as he can or should have, and I really hope he uses the last four games to cement his place in the team because his passing is such an exquisite asset. He also nearly scored!
Speaking of Dembele’s injury, here is another player who should benefit from the Belgian’s absence. I would have liked to see Holtby in for Parker anyway (and with Dembele’s injury, I’d prefer Sigurdsson to come in for Dembele and join Holtby and Hudd in a central three) and I think we are starting to see that the German’s best position is central.
Scott Parker had more shots on goal in the first half than Gareth Bale. He had more attempts at goal than Defoe. That is a worry, because to be fair Scott Parker is not an attacking midfielder and has Steffen Freund’s shooting boots on.
Wigan doubled up on Bale, knowing they did not need to worry about Parker. He could be vital against Chelsea, however in out other three games there is a strong case for dropping the England international and selecting a better offensive player.
On one hand, it’s unfair to judge Naughton when he is playing out of position. On the other hand, I have yet to see him show he can really be first choice at right back, so the jack of all trades/utility full back role is the only role he can fill at the moment. I can see why, from a defensive tactical point of view he played, as the Wigan right wingers like to come inside rather than go round the outside, but we lose so much width with a right footed left back, especially given we have no left winger. If you wind back to the first goal against City, Benny is in a left wing position and his cross is half cleared to an advanced Walker, who passes to Bale who crosses for Dempsey. We stretched City, we never stretched Wigan.
This will cause a bit of controversy, but yet again Super Jan was out-jumped at a corner. He stands too far off his man, allowing them a good run at the ball, and in that situation it’s very hard for the defender to get there first as they are always reacting half a second later to the attacker’s movement. He needs to get tighter and stop the attacker making a clean run.
After the seven minutes of goals against City, AVB appeared not to fully learn the lessons from that game. While Huddlestone came in to help the passing from midfield, Parker was retained, and Benny was dropped and so went out width on the left.
As I said above, I understand why Naughton was played, and AVB clearly doesn’t rate BAE, but round pegs in round holes, Andre.
I also get the feeling that sometimes AVB spends a little too long worrying about the opposition and how we can stop them, rather than what makes us play better and be more threatening.
The Academy class of 2009-10
Nathan Byrne looks set to make his loan move to Swindon permanent, Jon Bostock is trying to make a career in the MLS, and Dean Parrett has been allowed to go on trial with Crystal Palace. Tom Carroll is struggling to get a starting spot in the first team, Harry Kane has wasted another year on the subs bench out on loan, Ryan Mason has not had a look in while in France, Steven Caulker was overlooked for William Gallas (!), and Jon Obika is only a supersub in the Championship while his parent club go in to games without a striker on the bench.
It is an extremely difficult task for an academy player to come through a Premiership club – take a look round, there aren’t many of them around – but what was thought to be one of our better youth teams has failed to live up to the billing, and I think the club has to take a lot of responsibility for that. Sure, we all think we have the next Hoddle, Perryman or King in the youth teams, but they would never have made it if they were not given the opportunity. I did a piece for the Fighting Cock about how we never sort out the shape and size of our squad properly, and the forward situation at the moment is a prime example.
We have two front line strikers, and for the majority of the season at least one of them has been missing. How many games did Obika get a place on the bench? How many times did we have a striker on the bench? I’m not saying start them, I’m not saying chuck them in every time we go behind, but really how many midfielders do we need on the bench?? When the first change up you make is to bring a left footed left back on for a right footed left back, something is afoot.
The biggest obstacle young players have is their reputation. Did you turn to the 19 year old striker who has played two minutes of Premiership football, or the Icelandic international midfielder who scored 15 last season? More often than not it’s the international, but if you at least have the 19yo on the bench he will get a chance to show what he can do sooner or later. It’s why I’m pleased Danny Rose and Andros Townsend went out on loan – they have boosted their reputations massively and AVB will be less reluctant to play them now.
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