Saved by incompetence

93 minutes of frustration yesterday!

First I must join the chorus of appraisals for Collins and Upson (and Neill!) but apart from that, what sticks in my mind is that there are at least 2 fundamental problems with the game we played yesterday.

First : The midfield lacks a passer that possess the ability to play the ball to someone that is not already covered.
Parker receives the ball and mostly dwells on it until the enemy midfielder is all over him and he needs to just “get rid of it”, resulting in a 5 yard pass. The poor fellow on the other end of that pass is then, for obvious reasons, not more than a couple of yards away from quite a few enemies, in addition to the one marking him, giving him no time.
For a couple of games I was blaming our 3 man midfield for not being able to get some width in the play. I still think that was one reason, but the lack of ability to open the game is apparent also in a 442 setting.
It was even more obvious yesterday since as soon as Sunderland gained possession they immediately played it away from that central congested area which allowed them to get possession of the ball in our half of the pitch. Thankfully they failed to convert it into anything useful…
This problem is of course intertwined with lack of passing opportunities presented by his team mates, but still.

Second: I wrote in a recent post that most defenders and midfielders know how to strip the ball from Cole. Apart from the fact that they really didn’t have to do that yesterday, since he lost it more or less on his own most of the time, it turned out to be true again.
Cole is over-used in these games. It seems like that the first thought of many players is “feed the Cole” but unfortunately he will not score, or deliver the ball to someone in motion, or keep it up long enough to let the team advance.
Bellamy was more or less invisible yesterday, and even though all players have to answer for their own shortcomings, he was not given much to work with. How many balls delivered behind the back 4 for him to chase did you see? I cannot remember more than one!

No, the presence of a below par target player ruins our and Bellamy’s game. If Sunderland had been any better in front of goal or if Collins/Upson had not been brilliant, this would have been called the catastrophe it was. We were saved by their incompetence.


Joe J said...

I did not see the Southampton game Joppe but i did see the Sunderland West Ham game, and i agree that Cole did not really do much to score or even set up bellamy at any time, in fact i do remember Bellamy having a go at Cole for not passing, Also Bowyer had a terrible game and i was praying for Zola to change these 2 players, we do need Di Michele playing more alongside Bellamy.

Joppe - said...

:) edited, thanks... (wish I could say it was the first time...)

Prince H said...

Can't see Di Michele and Bellamy make a succesful pair. And even if Cole did not make much use of all the balls he was feeded yesterday can't say it's his problem or fault alone. It's the tactics. Collins, Upson and Neill all put up long balls for Cole as soon as we won the ball. All the time. I guess Cole won 95 percent of his headers. A great percentage. Half of them he flicked into noone. Half of them he took down and passed backwards to Parker or Bowyer who were in our own half. From there we slowly begun to play again. If the long ball tactics on Cole ever will work he must have some help and the way to play must be presented to the team in training. Like, Bellamy should either go in front of Cole and shout in the right move or behind him, Sears (if played - which I like to see in a 4-3-3 team) should always be found at the right... or something like that. Can't see many players in our league do the work Cole does and score in the same attack. Maybe a player like Martins, but he his feeded other balls. I don't want to defend Cole all the time, cause his skills with the ball at his feet is seldom very impressive, but for me this whining at Cole is a team fault. In which we could use our strong man much better. Bellamy runs a lot, but rarely in a pattern that could help the team in attack. And the midfield is wrongly balanced for Cole as well. And the flanks to often missused. I think Zola & Nani should call Appiah right away!

Joppe - said...

This was the message in my second point, Cole is over-used!

I do agree that the tactics must be changed, as the post implies I hope, and I also agree that the midfield is to blame for a lot, as I also said in the post.
But winning a header is not enough if it doesn't convert into something useful.

Sam H said...

unfortunately it is clear for all to see that cole uis utterly useless and the people who defend him by saying he works hard, do my head in!

I'd flippin work hard if you put me in a west ham shirt.

Hopefuully tristan will prove to be the striker he once was...although i doubt it unfortunately

Prince H said...

It's strange with some of our players... when they are not playin they are regarded as half Gods, and will change everything to the best for us when they'll be back. When they are back they are completely shit. Can't understand that some people make it so easy...

We got to use the players we have to the utmost best for the team. Look how Hull play. Noone would say that their players are classacts, but not totally useless either, as they are used (or has been) for the best of their team. I'm tired of those of our fans that just tries to find scapegoats. When it's quite easy to see that we could play in better ways with the team we have. If so, we also buiold our players confidence and we have an upgoin spiral.

Joppe - said...

But one must take a look at what other players have done. During the 3 match ban we had something happening in the attack.
I dreaded Coles return since I knew that under the conditions we were in (poitwise) we would start looking for him as the way to move the ball forward.
I think we play much worse football at the moment than we did against Everton or Boro regardless of the losses.
I am afraid that people will start referring to the points we've taken lately to try to prove that this is the setup we should use.

Get back the creative ball, it will pay off eventually, and bring Cole on as a supersub when we start to loose our nerve.

Prince H said...

I'd like to have the creativity as well. Of course.
But can't say Cole is the problem. The tactics are. We all want to quit the long-ball tactics. But I think - still - we need a strong man able to hold the ball up (Well Tristan, from my point of view, you can try as well!)
I can see Bellamy and Sears play together with Cole - still buzzin!
U got one point though. With Cole our midfield looks even less creative. Mainly because they don't move enough. And again, it's tactics (or the lack of a creative midfielder and in form wingers).
But in a way, after seven games with no wins but more pretty football, I can understand Zola is trying to take one step forward and two backwards.