Monday, January 07, 2008

Must do better

Stoke City 0 - 0 Newcastle Utd

We currently couldn't score in a brothel. Thankfully, Stoke also drew a blank - although there's was down to a combination of wayward finishing and staunch defending by at least a couple of members of our team. However, they'll come to St James' thinking that they can beat us, and on the strength of last night's performance that couldn't really be described as an upset. I don't really want to dwell on the game, because, to be honest life's too short. However, in the spirit of a match report, I'll at least try and pick out a few points of note:

Positives first:

Steven Taylor enjoyed a storming game at centre back, and Allardyce has hopefully realised that he remains our best defender, and played him in his best position.

Abdoulaye Faye also enjoyed a solid game at the back, and he and Taylor look a reasonable combination.

Shay Given remains a world class keeper.

Um... we're still in the Cup, as we didn't lose.

I've run out of positives now, anyone else feel free to add some in the comments box.

Looking at the other side of the ledger:

Jose Enrique and David Rozehnal clearly didn't fancy the battle on a cold January night in Stoke. Clearly both need much longer to adjust to speed and physicality of the English game, which means that the Zog will be back at left back next week, and judging from last night's sub bench, David Edgar will be running out at right back. Whether either is capable of adjusting to the Premiership, I suspect it'll be next season before we can really reach a judgement.

Smith and Butt lack any semblance of creativity, the latter also proving incapable of shooting on target, and I currently doubt whether either could pass wind let alone a football.

Damien Duff and Michael Owen are both someway short of their best on the comeback trail.

Mark Viduka looks class on the ball, but appears unwilling to move his portly frame around the pitch to make himself available. Thereby nullifying his usefulness.

The Zog is currently taking it all on himself to win games singlehandedly - meaning he holds on to the ball for too long, and in any event will be at left back again before he has time to think.

From the look of the bench, half the senior squad are unwell (Milner), injured (Emre), unavailable (Geremi) or have simply vanished (Ameobi).

We've just lost one of the two decent centre backs to the African Cup of Nations for several weeks.

We're lacking confidence, creativity and cohesiveness.

In short, we need a boost - be it in terms of a new signing(s) or a flukey result to go our way (don't hold out much hope of that at Old Trafford) or the mood will deepen. Stoke are a limited side, but we made them look world beaters (particularly Sam Parkin who looked like every pub team's token fat knacker with a beard). However, unless we plunge into the bottom three, I suspect that Allardyce will remain in situ until the end of the season. However, if things don't improve before then, we'll be looking over our shoulders all the way to May, having long since seen our one (slim) remaining hope of silverware having long since disappeared, and with better clubs eyeing up our small handful of decent players. We simply must do better.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


Post a Comment

<< Home