In the bar at the end of the game my friend Tim asked me what I was going to write about the game. I replied that I would have to give it an evening’s thought. Another friend had brought his wife for her first game. She looked shell shocked. What had she thought? Nice pies. And that’s it.
I spent my evening “thinking about it” posting negative messages on NSC. Frankly it’s a really good job we don’t have a cat. Having slept on it I feel the same. We have made some awful blunders this summer. We are not going to win very many games. We are in a relegation battle. We are in deep, deep do-do.
The first seven minutes was a microcosm of our season under Sami. We knocked it around nicely. We created (and missed) an excellent chance. We were the victim of some disputed refereeing from a certain Mr D’Urso (though, for what it’s worth I think he brought the free kick to us back when Baldock was clean through because Teixeira had a head injury). We were kicked and bullied off the ball. Then we conceded a massively silly goal that started with a quick break that moved wide in to a gap and ended with the increasingly unconfident Stockdale looking hesitant.
And therein lay our game. Lots of ball, no effective ball at all. ‘Boro kicked Teixeira out of the game and marked Lua Lua out of the game. Shots but not the right shots. The overwhelming feeling that they could break against covering midfielders and a panicking keeper at any time and score again. The most bizarre set of substitutions yet, as if to say the only answer was to have more strikers on the pitch than Gus and Oscar combined. As JFC trudged off the pitch my seven year old remarked “there’s no midfield dad”. The bloke in the row in front gave him a nod of agreement.
I thought about being positive. I thought about Paul Barber’s messages this week and our financial challenges. I thought about how hard it is to criticise someone who puts in a million a month, about how yesterday the “match day experience” was actually pretty good, apart from the football, which is the only bit that matters. And then I thought sod it.
Sami is out of his depth. These tactics are never going to work with the players we have. We’ve signed some turkeys. We miss Ulloa. We have no leadership, astonishing given our Captain had Germany in his back pocket in the week and scored a goal of stunning quality and movement. There’s no point our strikers watching videos of it though. They are too small and weak to repeat it.
I still maintain Stockdale was a good signing but his confidence is shot and the trolls don’t help. A couple of DS games would do him a real favour. COG will never be good enough at this level and why he was signed I don’t know. Baldock couldn’t finish a Mars Bar. Everywhere we are too weak, everywhere we do not understand our own system.
We need wins but we have wedded ourselves to a system that’s not going to produce them. I feel depressed. Sorry, Tim.