Monday, November 15, 2004

Granny lover scores in toon

Two goals by Wayne Rooney, and one from Mr Ed the talking horse gave manure three points on Sunday when for the third game in a week all our efforts failed to produce anything lasting. That their goals game from a collection of poor defending and a degree of weak refereeing was frustrating. The fact that we were given the rough end of the stick by the ref making it all the more bitter a pill to swallow.

In reality, we should have done better against both their first and third goals, with the defence/midfield guilty of failing to track Rooney's run for the first goal, and Bernard seemingly unable to deal with what looked a simple ball for their third. Their second came following a push on O'Brien by Rooney, and in the ensuing goalmouth scramble Scholes crumbled under challenge from Given. In all honesty, the push on O'Brien was there for all except the referee to see, but had the Irishman not then slipped he should have dealt with it anyway.

The sickener was, that after having fallen behind in the seventh minute, we'd worked our way back into the game, and had drawn level thanks to an excellent goal by Shearer, who robbed Wes Brown and tucked the ball beautifully past Carroll.

Looking back on the game, it seems to be a case of our old failings letting us down again. Put simply Kluivert is a striker badly in need of a goal (which duly arrived only to be wrongly ruled out by the linesman), and his finishing is currently letting him down. Bellamy is not a winger, and appears desperate to cut inside at every opportunity, leaving us without the necessary width to stretch defenders and create the space for players like Bowyer and Jenas to run into. (Quite what James Milner has done to upset Souness, I do not know.)

Defensively we looked reasonably stable, with Johnsen and Bramble having decent games. The former even having a goal chalked off for very little reason. Something which Match of the Day 2 deemed not worthy of televising. (Frustrating seeing as I could see no reason for the referee to suddenly get fussy about contact in the box after his refusal to penalise the jug-eared wunderkid for in the build up to the penalty, and from my seat in the Leazes end , I would have appreciated the benefit of seeing it again.)

The disappearance of Stephen Carr early in the first half, presumably with the re-occurrence of his recent knee injury was a worry, it's amazing how much we miss his forays forward when he isn't there. To take us forward, I think Souness is going to have to bite the bullet and drop one of his forward triumvirate, only then will we have the necessary width and space in the middle for our strikers to do their jobs properly.

It was interesting to note the crowd chanting for Robert. Presumably some of those doing that were amongst those who booed him from the pitch, and Viana on to it, against Wolves in the last home match of last season.

Who says football fans are fickle?

P.S. I'd like to commend the gentleman behind me, whose creative juices simply overflowed with the following chants:

"He's sacked your board, he's sacked your board, Glazer's sacked your board" and the slightly more coarse, "He's shagged your gran, he's shagged your gran, Rooney's shagged your gran".

Sadly neither took off, but certainly gave me a smile on what was otherwise a very frustrating Sunday afternoon.


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