Bournemouth at Home 2014/15 In Quotes

A game where before, during and after, other people summed things up for me just perfectly. So I’m going to join with them here to do so. This is last night, not only in my words, but reflected in the words of others. Warning – contains swearing from the off

“In my opinion, parachute payments undoubtedly provide an advantage – regardless of league positions or bounce-back promotion records.” Paul Barber quoted by North Stand Chat.

Let’s go back two and a bit years to a hypothetical 2013, around January. Brighton have just drawn Bournemouth at home in the FA Cup Fourth Round (hypothetical remember) and due to a hypothetical lack of other interesting ties this “South Coast Derby” (ridiculous catchphrase copyright Sky Sports and no one else) has made the Friday night television game.

High flying Brighton are certainly a TV draw. High in the Championship thanks to their ex-internationals like Bridge, Upson and Vicente they are playing a brand of mostly entertaining (but sometimes crab-like) football and pushing for the Premier League. Bourenmouth, meanwhile, are having a very decent season themselves, albeit in League One. To be fair to the hypothetical TV executives it’s a mouth watering tie, containing the likelihood of either a thrashing or an upset, all with a chance of some flairtastic attacking play. When plucky Bournemouth and their travelling army of 1800 loyal fans beat us 2-0 it is regarded as a major shock of the round and Gus Poyet blames everyone from the referee to a small sparrow that alighted on Vicente’s knee at five thirty that afternoon, putting him out for eight weeks.

Fast forward two and a bit years. That’s all. Less than our current manager’s contract length at inception. Brighton are certainly at home to Bournemouth on telly on a Friday night but the general consensus is that their band of ageing pros and loan mercenaries don’t stand a chance against a fast, fluid, attacking Bournemouth side managed by a superb young manager. And, indeed, the correct result is played out, thanks to two pieces of killer finishing in an otherwise, by Bournemouth’s standards, below par performance. The only disappointment is that the away side have only brought 1800 down. Didn’t Norwich bring over 3000 a week ago?

I have to be careful here, given a couple of spats with Sheffield Wednesday sites over their perceived big club arrogance. But come on. We’re not talking about a side like Norwich or Ipswich which is probably about the par I see us on, club size wise. We’re talking about – to quote Gaz again – fucking Bournemouth. To put it in context the only side that were constantly shown on Meridian Tonight after us. As they cut to the sport it would be 10 minutes fawning over Pompey and Southampton, forty five seconds of Brighton highlights and then the words “and Bournemouth lost at home to Northampton Town”.

Not any more. With no top flight experience let alone parachute payments, Bournemouth are showing the whole division how to do it. They have a massive goal difference, they sit on the top of the table and they thoroughly deserve it. They have officially done it within FFP. They have managed to attract back a manager they thought they’d lost, and keep in the face of a fierce managerial merry-go-round in December and January. They have attacking players who can score from anywhere. They have two centre backs, two of the best in the division, that we let go as not good enough. We could yet go down. So when you’re told it’s not do-able don’t believe it. It is. Just not by us.

Bournemouth have been poor but then they know they only need to score once

– my mate Trev at half time

This was as true a quote as there was all night. I actually think we played well in the first half. We had more of the ball and created opportunities for opportunities which was at least better than against Rotherham or Norwich. In the second half we created three cracking chances and put away none of them. We have – by goal tally, ability and effectiveness – three of the worst strikers in the whole division. The moneyball replacement for Ulloa who wasn’t. The happy puppy with similar ball control. And Leon Best who might as well fuck off back Up North now for all the use he is (ten points for scaring linesman, none for taking chances, minus five for effort). By contrast I called both Bournemouth goals just before they went in. A text book free kick from Kermorgant and a thoroughly composed finish by the outstanding Callum Wilson.

Do we have to go Dad?

– The Boy on 83 minutes

Yes, son. Yes we do. It actually took till 85 to get out but I left early. First time this season. Normally The Boy and my writing and the fact that I only ever left The Goldstone early if there was a protest or boycott mean I will stick it out to the bitter end. Last night getting back home at a reasonable time seemed to be the decent long term option. Being Easter holidays and a Friday night it was The Boy’s first evening game. Getting him back home at a decent hour means he’ll get another one. It was an investment.

“We were the more likely to score in the first half but in the last period we tried to push forward and they capitalised on it.
I’m majorly concerned by the lack of goals. The facts are there to see – we haven’t scored in our last three games.”

– Chris Hughton

Sorry Chris. I’ve been a champion of your appointment. When you came in we were dead and buried, and you have taken us out of the relegation zone, but those two lines contradict each other. We cannot be both more likely to score and yet so inept in front of goal. You picked Lean Best, Chris, for Christ’s sake. The realistic thing to say would be “if we’re going to stay up we’re going to need to draw our next four games 0-0” but I doubt that will get the game-by-gamers in. There is Clear and Present Danger.

” carrying on the film theme ‘clear and present danger’ for the next blog?”

– @AEBrownings after the game.

See? Told you.

There is still a clear, present and worrying danger of going down. Millwall, rejuvenated under Neil Harris, have two games in hand and the bit between their teeth. Luckily we don’t need snookers but we may need own goals. Talking of which……

Things better at football than Leon Best. Go…

– Brett Mendoza on Facebook

Suggestions so far include an Owl Cushion, some Kleenex and a bag of shite. To which I’d add Yann Kermorgant, Callum Wilson and even unused* Bournemouth sub Kenwyne Jones.

How times have changed.

*apparently only unused while I was in the ground after which he made a cameo. Thanks twitter friends!

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Rotherham At Home – More Of The Same

First the positives. We didn’t lose. David Stockdale was superb. And, in the week my wife put me on a  strict diet I was able to look at Steve Evans and see what would happen if I didn’t comply. We scored a goal, albeit as a result of a terrible first touch. Paddy McCourt briefly lit up the stadium with some genius wing play and the perfect low cross across the six yard box which ALL three of our strikers stood and admired. Paddy went apoplectic. I went apoplectic. My friend Steve went apoplectic (or so he told me, he used the actual word). Half the ground held their heads in disbelief. The other half? They were empty seats.

Yes, it was another exercise in futility, frustration and effing up. To make us look bad this season all you need to do is have a couple of big, physically fit players (and every other Championship side except us does) who are prepared to burst in to the channel at speed. That’s it. That basic. That’s how to counter Brighton.

The players don’t understand the tactics. I don’t think the players like the tactics. The players are all over the place. I’ve never seen us give the ball away so much. Having taken an improbable lead through a poor Joe Bennett first touch, followed by a brilliant Joe Bennett finish, just before half time, we should have come out for the second half riding a wave of optimism. Instead we switched off and, once again, let our opponents straight back in to it. By 85 minutes we were already in the dressing room. Five minutes left of real time plus an implausible four minutes injury time and yet we’d given up already, as had the majority of the emptying ground. It felt like only me, the boy, Best Friend and his boys and the people in the row in front were watching. In actual fact there were other pockets of die hards still there. The Police Box singers. The guys around me at the back of the WSU G and H blocks. The A21 club. Another pocket or two in the North. There is a risk they will be the only ones who turn up next season. At the whistle a chorus of boos rang round the stadium.

Just a week ago when We Are Brighton tweeted the question of Hyypia in or out I was on the fence, mainly because he’d only had a few games and I wasn’t sure who we’d get in to replace him. Two games later it is clear he’s lost the dressing room, or at least split it, since Bennett and Stockdale’s post match interviews contradicted each other. The risk of keeping him is now too great. He has to go now.

I do feel sorry for him though. When I dared to suggest on another forum that there might be something more sinister to the quick and similar departures of Poyet and Oscar I was rounded on as a heretic against St Tony, St Paul and St David. I was even sent a PM briefing about Oscar’s deficiencies. And yet Sami is not entirely culpable here. We’ve spent a summer buying lemons and then given them to a chef who only knows how to make steak and kidney pudding. Yesterday he HAD to start COG. He HAD to put Fenelon on the bench. He HAD to start the disinterested Gary Gardner. However, he CHOSE to play Calderon at wingback instead of in a conventional position. He CHOSE to drop Holla, one of our few decent looking signings (perhaps he has questioned the tactics or gone in to his shell having not understood them). He CHOSE to have Bennett push up, resulting in a goal for us and a goal for them.

I don’t know how many other ways there are of writing this. I will say this to Paul Barber. This is not a moan from someone who doesn’t understand or isn’t prepared to contribute. Aside from my two season ticket DDs, yesterday I bought three rounds of drinks, two pies, a programme and a bag of crisps and I do every game. I work in a financial capacity in a management role and I understand a business plan that shows a protracted operating loss. But while I’m digging in that money not everyone can afford to. That level of spending isn’t viable for anyone who isn’t on a good salary, and I remind you here and now that football is the working man’s game. I would certainly urge every fan to spend as much as they can afford in the stadium but I would also urge St David to stop wasting money on guff like Chris O’Grady, Agustien, Toko, and Gardner. I know which adjustment would see a better result on the pitch and it is now that which is needed to get the income side of the business plan back on track.

I wish I didn’t have to rant. I wish I could dash off a 200 word praise-poem about how great we are and how we’ll be playing Arsenal and Man United next season. However, the reality is, unless Hyypia goes, and unless we adjust the parameters of the famous SWOT sheets we will be playing Colchester, Crawley and Fleetwood next season.

There may be some out there prepared to defend the current set up but none of the people I spoke to were. I talk to fellow bloggers. I talk to people who have followed the Albion and England home and away for decades. Ian Hart was massively critical in the Worthing Herald this week and Adam Virgo was after the match. Loyal fans, former players and fellow writers all shaking their heads in disbelief. Something needs to change.

 

Middlesboro At Home 2014/15 – Another Omnishambles

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.