I believe it was Jimmy Greaves who first said, ‘it’s a funny old game’, he wasn’t wrong.
What happened against Sunderland was a travesty but Saturday lunchtime was absolute daylight robbery.
There are two ways of looking at the match, from a performance perspective and from a result perspective. Judgement of the manager rests with which of these you choose to do, or maybe a combination of both. I’ll start with the latter, because it is easier.
We won. That is what the players are paid to do, that is what we want to see, that is what keeps the manager in his job and a smile on the owner’s face. The best teams in history are remembered as such because they won football matches, it’s as simple as that.
So we should be happy, right? We won! 3 points in the bag. Still though, there are people who aren’t happy, which brings me to the second point.
It was a shockingly bad performance. There was almost nothing in that match that gave the incredible travelling support anything to cheer about, besides the goal.
As has been mentioned in a previous article, the main culprits were the midfield, Anita and Tiote did not cover themselves in glory, and I can remember only one or two occasions when we made it out of our own half. Wijnaldum’s touch seemed to desert him, apart from the moment he set Perez through on goal, an act that was enough to redeem an otherwise tepid performance.
Somebody suggested that we bring Sissoko on in the second half, which I thought was a brilliant comment, because he was completely anonymous throughout the match.
Mitrovic did his best, but was once again starved of service; until we sort out some proper wingers we are not going to see the best of him.
Perez took his goal very well but the wet surface seemed to nullify his usually fluid style.
Defensively, I thought we were poor as a unit, but individual blocks and challenges, particularly from Mbemba (or Mbmemba as his shirt read in the first half against the mackems) were enough to keep out the 20 shots the Cherries managed.
The undoubted man of the match was Elliot, who came close to repeating Jack Butland’s performance the week before. He comes in for a lot of stick between the…sticks, but he does have good reflexes, and while he has a propensity to punch where a catch may be better, he certainly was alert enough to win the game for us.
So where does that leave us (apart from only one point behind Chelsea)?
It may not surprise anybody who has read my articles in the past to hear that I was quite pleased with the events that unfolded. For several weeks now we have been playing good football, trying to keep it on the floor, playing from the back, hitting teams with direct movement, but ultimately not finding the finishing touch.
The style we have been playing in has given me hope that McClaren is slowly but surely turning things around, several of our poor results have come in games where I felt we were the better team.
The reason I was pleased on Saturday was that despite playing poorly we came away with the points, isn’t that what winners do?
How many times did Manchester United drudge their way through a match only to nick it in the 90th minute?
Boring boring Arsenal anyone?
Chelsea were dire last season, terrible to watch, but they won.
Apart from the fact it was 3 points on the road, it was good to know that despite a lacklustre performance we were able to hold out and win the match.
We now have 2 weeks to prepare for Leicester because of the utterly pointless and boring international break, and boy we’ll need it, because the Foxes are flying right now. Hats off to Jamie Vardy, but we will need to defend better than we have been if we are to keep him out.
According to Tesco, Christmas is coming and our aim has to surely be to pull ourselves out of the mire before the madness of the Xmas fixture list and associated injuries.
The win on Saturday was the first step towards achieving our dream of mid-table obscurity, now let’s push on. Howay the lads!
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