Speedy recovery Ilunga!

Lately I have been a bit fed up with Ilunga’s lack of commitment. He seem to be interested in the attacking part of the game but strolls back to retake his position as left back. What pisses me off is that he undoubtedly has the talent and he is OK defensively when he puts his mind to it, but too many times we find ourselves without a left-back when the break is on.
My theory is that this is one important reason for the shaky look of our back 4. Ilungas absence stretches the remaining three players too much and leaves holes that are not easily covered.
Now this happens in every team in every game, the back 4, as well as some of the midfielders must be prepared to take on defensive duties of a player that has “gone missing” for one reason or another. But the reason for not being there must be a good one! Ilunga does not seem to be able to present any reason other than lack of interest for his defensive duties! How this can be tolerated by Zola and Clarke is confusing to say the least.

On Wednesday Ilunga was replaced by Spector after a few minutes and even though it was a blow for the team and Ilunga, I was very eager to see what kind of impact this would have on our defensive game.
But Villa refused me any opportunities, at least during the first half of the game.
Again and again Heskey, Young or Agbonlahor tried to outpace poor Faubert – but didn’t really get passed him. They did create the corners and it almost seemed as if this was their primary goal. (no wonder 10 out of 15 Villa goals has come from dead ball situations). However, this left Spector with an easier task. Eighteen times (!) Villa chose to attack on their left side compared to 4 on Spectors side and 4 in the middle during the first half.In my eyes Fabert had a brilliant game but why Villa kept at it is beyond me!
In the second half the stats evened out a bit as NRC replaced Heskey, but still they charged down Fauberts side twice as many times as on Spectors.

So basically, the jury is still out – Spector did well in that game, also when attacking but let’s see how he performs against another opponent!
But then, the best thing would probably be that Ilunga got well and understood that a speedy recovery of his left back spot after we lose possession is vital for our defensive game!


Hakan said...

Very interesting statistics from the Villa game! It certainly seems to indicate that Martin O'Neill had identified Faubert as the weakest link (but we don't know how Villa would have attacked if Ilunga had stayed on the pitch). Please repeat this analysis for a few games to find out if other managers have come to the same conclusion.
I don't have a firm opinion about Ilunga's ability or willingness to track back, but there will always be a trade-off if you want to make full use of his attacking skills. Someone will have to cover for him. I don't think anyone in the Premier League has the lungs to run up and down the full length of the pitch for 90 minutes (with the possible exception of Park Ji-Sung).

Joppe - said...

Regardles if it was due to O'Neills tactics what puzzles me is why O'Neill didn't act after seing that Faubert could handle it.

Hakan said...

Good point. My hunch is that O'Neill is more of a motivator than a tactician. Brought up in the Brian Clough School of Management.

Joppe - said...

On the original topic - Ilungas lack of a decent workrate - it's true that noone but Park and Behrami can run the full 90 minutes.
But in a left back I'd prefer running to perform the defensive duties to running to attack if I have to choose. Or at least show signs of being too tired to track back.