Monday, August 07, 2006

Back to basics

Glenn Roeder's great achievement after he stepped in to the breach last season was to get the defence playing as a unit. A simple enough task, you might imagine, but one that was evidently beyond Souness and his cronies.

But now, following the second mauling from quality European opposition in the space of a week, it seems that our back line have forgotten all the lessons they learnt.

OK so we didn't lose to Villareal (mainly thanks to unlikely goalgetter Nicky Butt, who came on as a sub to score two splendid headers and gag the boo boys), but defensively we did a good job of making a side dumped out of the Intertoto by NK Maribor look like the side that reached the Champions' League semi-final.

Predictably enough, Man Utd flop Diego Forlan wasn't forlorn for long when he saw what he and his teammates were up against. Villareal led 2-1 at the break with goals from Moreno Josico and ex-Gunner Robert Pires, and Roeder opted to replace the hapless Titus Bramble and Craig Moore with Jean-Alain Boumsong and Steven Taylor. The changes made a slight difference; though Villareal increased their lead through Gonzalo Rodriguez before Butt took centre stage, that was mainly due to Albert Luque being AWOL from a corner.

The only real positives to take from the game were that Shola Ameobi notched another goal, and that we showed a measure of resilience having fallen behind, completing a comeback rather than only going close as we did against PSV.

Plenty of work to be done on the training pitch, then - and new defensive reinforcements are still very definitely desirable...

(For footage of the goals, visit Toongoals.)


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