I’ve left it 24 hours since the end of the game to try and be objective ( at least in my first post ! ) Like all of you, I’m still feeling a nasty sense of disappointment bordering on resignation at an average performance and a beating by a solid if unspectacular Chelsea. For what it’s worth, I don’t belive the title’s gone yet – there’ll be a lot of dropped points yet to come.
But rather than try and work out which the next must-win game is ( after all, isn’t it always the next game ? ), I thought I’d try and take a bit of an overview. At the start of every season, the comment you read most is that we want the team ( and the club ) to make progress. So, what progress have we made, and where have we gone backwards ?
Glen Johnson – a definite plus point. A revelation going forward and will weigh in with a goal or two, which to be honest, we haven’t had since Riise. Has already turned some of those draws in to wins against the lower lights at home. Whatever you say about the balance of the side at the back now, individually, he is a plus
Lucas – Is he worth a place in the team ? Right now, probably, but in the main I’d hope to have a first XI with enough quality for him not to be. But – he is much improved
Insua – Tricky this one. Playing it safe, I’d much rather Aurelio plays, especially in games like yesterday. That said – by giving youth it’s chance to gain experience, I think it will only be of benefit to the club
Tactics – where Rafa has mystified me the most this season. He stumbled rather on the Torres/Gerrard combo and we had the personnel to back it up. But Alonso’s departure has changed the balance of the side, and rather than change his tactics to suit the best 11 players, he seems wedded to this system, even if it means playing Aurelio and Lucas in the middle, and usually Mascherano and Riera in a workmanlike but not creative midfield. I hope Aquilani is going to be a great signing, but he’s already 3 losses too late ( and nor for that matter is he a like for like replacement )
Confidence – Is it just me, or has something happened to our boys ? Carra out of sorts, Stevie G a shadow of the player we know, Torres in a permanent grump. Last season ended on a high and I expected us to come out all guns blazing this year – but the spirit and the fight is just not there. Zonal Marking ( and I’m a fan ) works when everyone knows what they are doing, but they seem to have no idea. Has Rafa lost the dressing room ?
Ownership – The big one, this. But if it’s affecting the players then someone ought to tell them that the best way to secure the future of the club is to win. Whoever is in charge.
I’m not sure what the answer is, but right now my fear is that we are not as good a team as we were last year. 30 games to prove me wrong though.