The Half Time Pep Talk
Managers and coaches do their best to bellow and point out instructions from their technical areas during as the game progresses but it is questionable how much of that actually gets through to the players. Half-time is generally the best opportunity to throw things around the dressing room to get the player’s attention. At half time on Sunday we were on the ropes and a crushing defeat was on the cards. City were playing well and at a high tempo and we seemed to be doing everything possible to help them out.
After the break some Slavic wisdom and a minor rearrangement of personnel and it was a different game. We started to compete and City were no longer free to strut their billion pound stuff. We couldn’t quite do enough to snatch an unlikely point but the performance was far more encouraging.
In the Under The Hammers Match report Richard Bennett provides an excellent summary of the shortcomings in our line-up, formation and first half performance. Whether it was 3 or 5 at the back or some form of hybrid the tactic misfired badly with City’s mobile and pacey forward players allowed all the space and ball that they could want. The task wasn’t made easy due to injuries but the selected side lacked balance and we far too often conceded unforced possession. If Lanzini was unable to last a full game then why not play him first half rather than second? He would have been a better option than Tore who has a lot to do to prove himself.
Once we changed to two proper full backs we looked far more compact and threatening and Antonio’s goal came early enough to strive for a second. The momentum was lost after Aguero’s Costa moment caused Reid to leave the pitch and we went 4 at the back. I have read since that Slaven Bilic was about to make the change anyway which I find puzzling.
There are differences of opinion but I am certain that Aguero deserved a red card. The unfortunate thing with retrospective punishment is that it is other teams that benefit. Better if he was banned for the next 3 times that we play against him.
In that Round Mr Collins you have No Passes
I am sure we all love Ginge’s commitment to the cause and that the way that he is prepared to throw his body in the way regardless of the consequences. From a defensive point of view these qualities allow me to overlook his occasional rushes of blood and bloopers. However, he has to be one of the worse passers of the ball that I have ever seen from a professional footballer. This would not be such a problem if it didn’t seem to part of our game plan to use him as a major distribution outlet every time he plays.
There was one occasion in the first half where we had a free-kick inside the City half and, let’s face it, an industrial route one goal was the best we could hope for at that point. Yet rather than lump it forward Noble decided to play it backwards to Ginge; from where it probably found its way back to keeper or out of play. I really don’t understand what the players expected to happen. A defenders prime responsibility is to defend (and Ginge does this well enough) but when he has the ball he should play it short to someone who knows what to do with it. Whether we have the right players with right attributes to make themselves available as an outlet then becomes the issue.
Arthur Masuaku ‘E’s Alright
I like Arthur Masuaku. Over the course of the whole game he was our best player against Manchester City. I love his energy, his dribbles, his beard and his thousand yard stare. On these early performances he looks an excellent signing and will be stiff competition when Cresswell is fit again. He did exceptionally well in creating the goal for Antonio.
His battle with Sterling was one of the high points of the match and a less lenient referee may well have given him a second yellow (even though I thought the first rather harsh). Mr Mariner made amends by calling over Mark Noble to tell him it was Arthur’s last warning and then booking the captain for dissent instead.
The Payet situation is a strange one. His continued absence with little explanation has fuelled a host of non-specific transfer speculation which even Paul Merson sobered up long enough to posit upon. The club through ace tweeter dg have strenuously denied any ulterior motives for Payet’s non appearance.
Now it appears that he is off to join up with France squad for their friendly against Italy. If his ‘knock’ is so serious that we didn’t want to rush him back how is it wise for him to join the national squad? Have we made a secret deal with him to give him a longer rest in return for staying put?