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Don’t Shoot

8 years ago
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No, the title doesn’t refer to Pardew’s pre-match talk, just a plea on behalf of myself as I know this post is not the most positive of views, one day it may well be, but I just wanted to share my thoughts on last night’s match.

I felt we’d lost it just listening to Pardew’s interview with Sky before the match, it was almost apologetic and that we shouldn’t be gracing the same pitch as Man City.  Whether we can compete financially or not is not a motivational speech, we need to be looking at our squad and realise that we have a strong starting 11 and can compete in each game we play, the problem is, the way Pardew sets them up (off the pitch and) on the pitch, really takes some of our arsenal away (scuse the pun).

The comment about having a strong pre-season bemused me, also – the fittest the players have ever been…there’s some extra poundage on some, and energy levels were lacking even before Taylor’s sending off.

Also, I’d love to know why Cabaye was dropped just because a bid came in for him?  Would he really have not played?  Got to think of the affect that had on Debuchy too (he seemed lost and out of sorts tonight).

I’ve said it many times before, we’re not set-up to be effective with the players we have, the tactics are wrong – Don’t Shoot!! It’s only my opinion, and I would love to hear yours.

Given our squad, I reckon we pretty much had the best possible 11 on the pitch to start with (perhaps I would have swapped Jonas for Marveaux) but we keep playing this 4-3-3 which just doesn’t work with the players we have.

I think most of us would pick Krul in goal, and the back 4 almost picked itself (although a few different thoughts after the game!).

The midfield is my main cause for concern, especially this 4-3-3 thing, as I really don’t think they understand where they should be playing, who picks up who, who’s tracking, who sits deep etc.

Tiote is a ball watcher and ball follower – he is indisciplined and gets pulled out of position, Sissoko is lost, but looked a little better when we went to 4-4-2 (briefly), and Jonas is lost unless he’s on the wing.  There’s no clever passing from any of them, there’s no thought of breaking through the middle and overlapping the striker, there’s no 1-2s, it’s all pedestrian, break up play, pass it wide.

And then, the ball gets passed wide to Ben Arfa or Jonas or Gouffran (who is not a winger or wide man).  They wait for the full back to overlap them and then cut inside. By which time, the opposition midfield and defence are now back in place and behind the ball. The striker – that’s Cisse, doesn’t know when to make a run, because he knows he ain’t getting the ball (especially when he wants it).  So he runs and is offside, or doesn’t and the ball is wasted.

When the wingers cut inside, inevitably the ball they curve in will reach the keeper or the 1st defender.  You see, the way we play, that final ball to the lone striker, marked by 3 men and the keeper, needs to be inch perfect for him to stand a chance, and we know we don’t have the players to deliver that ball.

We don’t get to the byline and cut a ball back for 3 or 4 midfielders to attack at the edge of the box, we either shoot feebly or try the needle in the haystack curve towards the keeper ball each time.

Cisse needs service, any striker needs service, he also needs a partner.  Think back to when we bought him in that January. We played 4-4-2 and Ba played alongside him. We also had Cabaye – a playmaker who played behind the strikers.  We had a defence that played higher up the pitch and squeezed the play – we were a unit.

Now, Pardew is out of his depth in my opinion. He’s trying the trendy formation without understanding that we don’t have the players for it.

I’m frustrated like most of us, but I don’t think we’ll solve this mess until we get back to basics, look at how we’re playing, look at the final ball and support to the strikers (whoever they may be), squeeze the play as a unit and also make sure each player understands their role.

A couple of comments on tonight’s game,  Taylor was sent of on 47 (45+2) minutes – 1 min until the break.  We were 2-0 down.  Why take off a striker and put on a defender? That shows damage limitation rather than give it a go 2nd half. Also, could have assessed it better at half-time rather than a snap decision.  Anita could have dropped in at full back and kept Gouffran on, we could have gone 4-3-2.

However, I thought Dummett had a good game 2nd half.

So where to we go from here?  When you look at the bench before tonight’s game you realise the lack of depth in our squad, yet we still decided to move 7 players on and send Campbell on loan.

Yes, we need new players, just to freshen things up, but for me – it’s more about the coaching, the message to the players before and after the game, all of them looked like they didn’t want to be on that pitch tonight and that needs to change before the West Ham game on Saturday.

As I said…Don’t Shoot!!! But would love to hear your views. There’ll be loads of you who bemoan my negativity and pessimism and that’s great…let me know where I’m wrong, that’s what The Mag is for!!

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