By Rich Sprent
One win in twelve. The same form as QPR. But this is the same team and manager that achieved fourth with only two defeats in the first fourteen. So what’s happened?
Injuries have taken their toll. Fatigue on a small first team squad. Some tough fixtures. Bad luck. Poor refereeing. Yes, all of the above have played their part on this bad run of form. The team were fantastic against Man Utd and for 70mins at Sp*rs. We were excellent v Chelsea and adequate for 65mins at Arsenal. But we gave awful performances at The Hawthorns and home to Palace.
So what could we have done differently?
The manager takes a lot of heat for this run. And for those who complain that his pressers are full of excuses, the bottom line is that whatever he says to the masses he will carry the can regardless. He protects the team in his pressers. Why does he need to be ‘honest’ and point out every deficiency? Those who complain at his manner, do you really think that he doesn’t convey his real opinion to the team?
There are three glaring areas that I lay blame for this poor run:
The team selection and tactics for the Xmas Chelsea and Arsenal games. Football is a confidence game and we simply did not have the squad to change the team and style to tailor suit those two huge games. All the eggs went in one basket, the Arsenal game. And yet if the best XI had given it a go at the Bridge then whatever the result the momentum the team were on would still have been there. It was changed. We lost both, and the momentum went with the points.
January: I am at a loss. The club go for eight signings and achieve none. We needed to secure three. A centreback, a midfielder and a forward. The consequence has been players looking tired, getting injured, and playing in secondary positions. In fact, the deal for Fletcher may have been a gamble but he would undoubtedly have made a huge difference. Not having a valid backup to Fletcher is mind blowing. I lay this at the board. The season was clearly put into the FA Cup basket with fingers left crossed on the league. After all, these last nine games of the season look an easier run in than our rivals.
The last one is a combination of both of the above. Zarate, youth, squad management. It’s clear we have a strong first choice XI. The bench is poor. At full strength we have maybe three decent options getting splinters.
The manager has failed to utilise the squad to its fullest. And yet if Zarate wasn’t good enough, and the kids aren’t quite there yet then why didn’t the board get stopgap replacements in the window? The manager can only play the cards he is dealt with. We are not a top six team. The squad is simply not strong enough.
We will aim to finish eighth. It tops the mini league of non European chasing clubs. DS says he wants TWO world class players amongst at least five incoming players. Does this include Song and Jenksinson, Dave?
Whatever the balance, it’s easy to see that the match day squad require five challenging players in addition to what we already have. And that’s just to be serious in challenging for 7th maybe 6th. Without them It will matter little who sits in the dugout next season. The team will be looking to come down again with the decorations.
The views expressed here are solely those of the blogger and are not necessarily shared by ClaretandHugh