If ever you’re invited, perhaps by The Mighty Boosh to “Come With Us Now On A Journey Through Time And Space” then my advice, should you want to make the best use of both features, is don’t take Erik Lamela with you. Or Nacer Chadli. Or Adebayor. Or maybe just no-one in a white shirt. That’s a little unfair perhaps. Eriksen, Capoue, Mason did their best to create room with some quick exchanges but there were far too many players that as soon as the ball hit them, that was it, end of forward momentum and end of attack. Lamela looks lost, no pace, no drive, no directness, Adebayor is in the Badebayor stage of his performance bell curve and Chadli looks elegant but peripheral.
This was a performance lacking in aggression, technique, a plan and belief but most of all pace. Pace pace pace. We’re desperate for it. We are so, so slow. It’s painful. We’ve been spoilt by the sight of Bale and Lennon of course outstripping all before them but to feel time unfold whilst our breaks from midfield unravel at the pace of the slowest magma is so frustrating. To watch Lamela turn into trouble every time he gets possession, to see the ball bounce of Adebayor’s knee, foot or head again and again, to see the players look up to the touchlines to spread the play and see no-one there. Again and again.
We were in the lead of course at half time but one lob over a hapless out of position centre back to a fresh whippet was all that was needed to change that. If you were deceived enough that your half time thoughts were based around theories that we were comfortable and ready to romp on to an emphatic victory then I suggest you stick well clear of any emails from Nigerian princes.
For the ninety minutes we were narrow, slow and limp. And it’s not a surprise, because it’s not for the first time. Several of yesterday’s side may well have played themselves out of starting next week at Villa Park, except that we have few options as replacements.
We can’t score goals, we can’t keep clean sheets. I think we’re not far from being in a spot of trouble. Our third home defeat of the season before we’re even in November? Whilst the players can’t produce what Poch’s ‘philosophy’ demands of them, this is what we will be served up with. Add as much Rabona Sauce as you like but it’s still an unsatisfactory meal with very slow service and a disappointing finish. All very poor.
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