Where has it all gone wrong?

Discussion in 'Columns' started by cusick, Jan 17, 2007.

  • by cusick, Jan 17, 2007 at 7:46 AM
  • cusick

    cusick New Member

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    A negative title, but in keeping with the doom and gloom merchants that seem to lurch from one target of blame to another every day.

    Take your pick from the rubbish about Robinson's loss of form since the World Cup to Jol's tactical shortcomings, to Lee's inability to defend. Without too much effort, you can find culprits everywhere (probably even the kit washing team - although IMO they would be heros if they could destroy that awful brown strip) by surfing the various 'fans' sites on the web.

    Football is a game that will always generate opinions and everyone is entitled to theirs; my ideas are no more right than those of the the 20th reply to this column.

    Two things that I do take issue with though are venal insults and bad language. Disliking an opinion is not an excuse to call the writer a 'see you next tuesday'; fortunately, this is not an issue to contend with on this Forum.

    The second one though is the moaning/blaming of individuals. It is a team game. Eleven in action on the pitch; first choice reserves or squad players;several stratas of club players below the elite top 25; coaches, managers, directors etc etc.

    The games in which we have struggled this season (not just the ones we've lost) have been so because of collective inabilities. So why is that?


    Robbo has let in some weak ones; why? Because the midfield has not closed down the shooter (Campo, Tugay etc) or the set piece has been badly defended (Reading, Newcastle etc). He has not become a bad goalkeeper. Neither have the players in front of him become lazy or inept. But in all these instances, the various parts of the team do not seem to have functioned as a unit.

    The midfield in particular has suffered from constant changes. I believe that this contributes to a lack of understanding and confidence, which in turn leads to openings for the opposition to exploit.

    If a team is succesful, then it will be involved in 50-60 matches in a season. Injuries dictate that a club must have a squad of players to cope with so many games. It does not however mean that just because you have so many players available, you must use them all!

    I offer two examples of why change for change's sake does not work.


    They are the team I get to see 'in the flesh' these days. Unfortunately, I rarely get to London from my home in France to be at WHL and have to content myself seeing Spurs now via satelite for the most part(I wish I had a control button that would allow me to mute the inane comments from Sky Sports but leave the crowd noise, but that's anoyther issue).
    Marseille started the season well, in spite of ending the last one on a low note by failing to qualify for Europe on the last day of the season(hmm sounds familiar).

    After 8 games they were in touching distance of leaders Lyon, but a succession of injuries meant wholesale changes to their settled midfield. What followed was an indifferent run of form that saw them drop down the table, struggle against lesser opposition in the league cup and generate endless media speculation about changes of personnel all the way through the club. The rumours reached their climax(nadir in my opinion) when Sven Goran Eriksson was linked with the manager's job. But a month before the Christams break, the injured players recovered, were re-installed in the team and a steady accumulation of good results since then has seen Marseille progress in both cups and climb the league again to challenge for the Euro qualifying places (after Lyon who again are walking the premier division, and by the way are an excellent bet to lift the Champions League Trophy).

    2.Man Utd.

    A great season for them. As everyone is familar with what has happened in the Prem this season I will not elaborate other than to emphasise that the principle reason for their success is - a settled midfield. Scholes, Giggs and Ronaldo have been excellent individually, but more importantly as a unit. It makes all the difference. Let's wish them well for Sunday.

    So why has it all gone wrong for us? We have missed having a settled midfield. In particular Davids and Jenas.

    We have missed having a settled back four. In particular King.

    We have unnecessarily 'rotated' in squad players, and disrupted rythm, confidence and cohesion.

    I hate to admit it, but the scum have a much better way of managing a large squad of players. Not only does it give younger emerging talent a competition in which it can compete at top level, but it creates a spirit and togetherness that seems to be missing in our puzzle.

    We have a good selection of players, with some great individuals sprinkled throughout. We do not however seem to know what our first team should be, and even if we did, I am not sure that we have the trust in the players to stick with it. Solve this one and we are nearly there.
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Discussion in 'Columns' started by cusick, Jan 17, 2007.

  1. davidmatzdorf
    It's an interesting article, except that one of your central points is just not true. We have not "rotated the midfield". Injuries have rotated the midfield. Jol has known all season exactly what his first choice midfield is, with only one real adjustment. At the beginning of the season, it would have been:

    Malbranque - Zokora - Jenas - Lennon

    Huddlestone has played himself into the first team by virtue of being precocious, so now Jol has three options for his "first choice" midfield:

    Malbranque - Zokora - Jenas - Lennon
    Malbranque - Zokora - Huddlestone - Lennon
    Malbranque - Jenas - Huddlestone - Lennon

    But he hasn't really rotated them at all, except when he has been forced to. Malbranque was injured, so Murphy and others played on the left. Lennon was injured, so Ghaly and others played on the right. Jenas is still injured, so Tainio and others have played in the middle. Zokora was suspended, so Huddlestone played in the middle - and kept his place.

    And that's about it. Squad players have been used for what squad players are for: covering when first choice players are unavailable.

    Hoe can one possibly have a "settled midfield" when three of the first choice quartet (now quintet) have been out with extended injuries and a fourth was suspended for 3 matches?
  2. cusick
    A good point, well made except that I do not think it is possible to have three first choices- surely that in itself is a contradiction. First means number one not 1a or 1b.
    But what the hell, we scored 4 last night and have sold our central defensive cover while the KING is still injured so what do I know?
  3. davidmatzdorf
    Thanks. By "three options for first choice", I was implying that, until Jenas gets back from injury, we won't know what Jol's first choice midfield is, although I think it was obvious at the beginning of the season, before Huddlestone made his case for selection so forcefully.

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