Saturday, December 15, 2007

Get Shorty

The day started inauspiciously when we emerged from the tunnel wearing WBA's navy shorts. Given that our usual away shorts are also navy, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the kit manager simply forgot to bring them with.

I used to be a kit manager of sorts when I ran a Sunday league team, and "...taking the kit to matches" was always firmly at the top of my 'to do' list. Perhaps expectations are different at Championship level.

Unfortunately it wasn't only the kit manager who made some bad decisions today. Pards seemingly left behind his notes from the Ipswich game, preferring to start with Ambrose on the right and Reid back in the centre, despite an outstanding performance which even he admitted was 'sublime' at times.

I can only assume that Pards wanted to put Jerome Thomas head-to-head with WBA's inexperienced right-back, and was thus forced to utilise Andy Reid back inside. Whilst this was somewhat understandable (particularly in light of our first goal), it resulted in Ambrose returning to anonymity, whilst Reid laboured with little penetration in the centre; the net impact was thus negative. Some more enlightened fans are welcome to tell me what I'm missing here.

However, the game was probably not lost as a result of tactics, but if we are brutally honest, as a result of WBA's superior quality in every department. I had been led to believe they were a very good side, but they firmly looked Champions elect on today's performance, displaying impressive power and movement that eventually overwhelmed us. It is impossible to argue with the result; indeed we should have lost by more.

Pards has made comments recently regarding our lack of physical presence, which suggests he is aware of the problem, although he made them in the context of a comparison to Stoke City (who incidentally leapfrogged us today). The likes of Roman Bednar, Zoltan Gera and Chris Brunt are hardly brutes, but they had more than enough penetration to carve us open with worrying regularity.

Watching those two carbon copy headers by Gera left me feeling sad rather than angry; sad for Chris Powell, a fine servant for us and a true gent, but one whose value is surely now best extracted off the pitch by Charlton. He was half-asleep for the first, and could not even muster a jump for the second, and given that he rarely ventures forwards these days either, it is not unreasonable (in the politest possible terms of course) to question what the point is.

Elsewhere our football was sporadic at best and frustratingly so, because on the rare occasions when we got the ball down and played, we looked somewhat dangerous. Nonetheless, the balance between Holland and Zheng did not feel right, neither are ball-carriers who can relieve some of the pressure from the defence, despite plenty of energetic intent. Then again, with the versatile Semedo otherwise occupied, I suppose there was little alternative, except the rarely-used (but often trumpeted) Therry Racon?

Thanks to three more injuries picked up today, we are now down to the bare bones at precisely the time when a full squad might be required. One of the few positives today however, was the unexpected efficacy of the Varney/McLeod combination, which will presumably be used if Iwelumo fails to return on Saturday. With Iwelumo up front today, and with Reidy in the hole, we were hardly likely to frighten them with pace through the centre; not true once Big Chris went off.

It's been a strange season so far, the (welcome) lack of draws ensuring that one's mood blows either very hot or cold, with little inbetween. On the one hand, today has caused me to remove my slightly rose-tinted spectacles, but then as I witness Watford's sudden demise, I can't help thinking that automatic promotion is well within our reach, especially if Pards can find some bargains in the January sales. A left-back, centre-forward and perhaps centre-back, ought to be firmly on his shopping list.


At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought we were in a false position prior to today but now I know we are. Too many weaknesses and too many players that go missing during a game. Chris Powell has now been embarassed in his last two games but theren't aren't many other options at the moment. On a positive note I think we can realistically win at least 4 out of the next 5 which would put us in a strong position. Maybe we can get Marcus back for Chris lol?


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