This was a bad version of the Bolton and Fulham games.
We play way to slow to create movement in the defence and do not have the players with good enough “one on one” qualities to unlock a team playing “defend and break”.
We also don’t have a midfield that can provide strikers with anything creative to work with in this kind of game.
But then, the strikers do not move enough to create options either, permitting the enemy defenders to be in the right position at all times. That Hull defence were rarely troubled.
While Bellamy could still run he did offer a moving alternative for the ones trying to build the attack, otherwise it was pretty much like having 3 target players.
Etherington is completely lost in that center/right-side position. The time it takes for him to get the ball to his only useful delivery-foot permits the defender to either take the ball away or to get into a good position. Don’t get me wrong, I like Etherington but he needs to be on the left hand side.
Noble, what is his role? For this game it may be a rhetoric question since I can’t think of one that he tried to fill. Maybe his job-description is too unclear, we all know his potential!
He looks lost trying to cover defensive areas while not doing anything when he finds them but watching the ball (a bit like Lampard used to, on his off days). He has played some stunning passes in the last games, but in this his passes weren’t even decently creative and the attack lost pace when he was in possession.
Parker had an OK first half and then disappeared. That’s all I can think of to say about him.
Then there is the problem with Faubert trying to move forward into the vacant outside midfield position, only creating a huge hole behind him were Hull could drop the ball, forcing Neill to cover and stretching the defence to create other holes in front of goal when the ball was delivered into the box on the break.
For long periods of time, in the second half, we had 3 (when Sears came in 4) players waiting for passes that never were. If the problem is a midfield that does not create anything useful, is the answer another striker?
What are the positives then?
Well, Behrami has an impressive workrate and his delivery to Coles beautiful cross bar effort is splendid. According to Setana stats we tackled 14 times, it must have been all Behrami.
Cole has a new side to his game - receive, turn and move towards the goal. That is some addition! and obviously something encouraged by Zola. His first touch and effort in that cross bar situation is superb! I usually complain about his poor first touch, but it has improved immensely!
Ilunga, tried to do what the midfield didn’t - impressive! Some say that his defence is too weak as a consequence but I don’t see this. And if so, let’s again compare with Faubert who is out of position and still does not create much.
To sum it up, I don’t think I like the 4,3,3 system (please prove me wrong) not against this kind of a team and not with too many players asked to do a job that is not what he is best at (Etherington, Noble, Parker, Faubert).
We will now face teams that will NOT play on the break. That’s the final (?) test of this system.
I used the Sentana stats to compare notes with Zola:
Zola thinks we played well and I agree, we passed the ball nicely (Passing Success: Hull-78% / WH-85%) and kept the ball within the team, especially in the first half (Possession: 40/60). But we weren't dangerous (Shots on Target 1/1!, Shots off Target 8/8), and we had the same problem as in the game against Bolton, we had the ball were we couldn't hurt them (Territorial Advantage 52/48!).