It’s always difficult waking up deflated on a Sunday Morning after experiencing a bad result, let alone a Saturday morning with a whole weekend ahead of you. The Fulham 1 Newcastle 0 result has raised a few questions that need to be addressed and quickly.
We need to hit all cylinders as this league is turning out to be what we were warned it would be.
My first concern goes to selection by Rafa Benitez.
Yes of course he is the best we have had in ages at setting up and picking the teams but I found the team formation overly defensive. The goal we conceded from the set-piece will get ironed out, we will be more disciplined and maintain more clean sheets as the season progresses, but the question is how are we going to break teams down.
As the team Rafa has set out, even towards the end of last season, with two sitting defensive midfielders, there is an over-reliance on the right winger, in this case Matt Ritchie, to create just about every goal scoring opportunity – as there is nothing coming from the middle, nor from the docile left wing which is worsened by the presence of Dummett.
Teams will eventually counter us by blocking whichever wing Ritchie switches to. Ritchie needs to be permanently put on the right wing as he offers both a scoring and crossing opportunity backed by Janmaat.
Rafa Benitez needs to trust Jonjo Shelvey to be his man running the offense from the middle of the park.
With the little cameo last night, Shelvey did some nice things by linking quicker to Janmaat, Ritchie and Aarons on the flanks. Let’s just say he sees the pitch better, picks up his teammates much faster and precisely than Colback will ever do. Hayden will be the perfect foil to Shelvey sitting back and breaking up play while allowing Shelvy to concentrate on the attacking aspect of his role.
As I see it, Colback isn’t going to change the clumsy foul prone nature of his game either. Let’s just accept the fact that two defensive midfielders in the middle is exerting too much pressure on the wingers to create, not to mention when one of the wingers is either defensive minded like Anita, or backed up by Dummett, who is practically clueless with the ball at his feet.
If Rafa doesn’t trust Shelvey to be the man then better get that deep lying midfielder who will do the job for him.
Perez in a way frustrates me, as there is a moment of individual genius and then those more regular inconsistent moments including misplaced passes, he gets pushed over too often looking for foul calls he will never get from the referee. He is not ready for the #10 role, not yet. I would stick him as the second withdrawn forward operating from the wing where he gets more space.
As of now I would prefer a more physical and ready player in Mo Diame who will step in right away and make that midfield tick offensively higher up the pitch. The Gayle & Perez combination is too lightweight for me. Gayle is more suited pairing up with Mitro.
Chancel needs to play. It was surprising to see both Lascelles and Dummett launching long balls in the general direction of the shortest number nine we have had in a while, in the opening two minutes. I expected better from Lascelles as he is supposed to be calmer on the ball but Chancel without a doubt is the better ball playing centre-back we have. When you don’t have a deep lying midfielder who will drop back and demand the ball from his centre-backs then you will end up getting a lot of long balls. That is asking too much even from the likes of Mitro to keep bailing you out.
Now with the euphoria over about the Captain naming and all, Lascelles needs to get down to the business of his main job, which is defending like a rock. Its all good being the man who is vocal but you still have to mark your own man.
I hope Rafa makes necessary changes. Certain formations and personnel from last year that have found themselves in this season’s opener as well, need to be used best as back up, not front line choices. We will win more games for sure but the challenge is to win enough games to get automatic promotion.
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