Well done, Rochdale, fully deserved.
They dutifully laid a pitch on which we were supposed to demonstrate our superiority. Unfortunately, they hadn’t read that script and looked for most of the game, the equals of the vaunted Premiership side.
We put out our ‘B’ team and, yet again, it was … simply, a woeful performance. All over the pitch, our players did not look as if they commanded their area of responsibility. The team 63 places below them were hungrier and better.
WARNING: there’s some slagging off here – do not read on if you’re of a nervous disposition.
VORM – 5
Can’t be criticised for either of the goals but teams lead from the back and his persistence with predictable short passes out, pushed them onto us and made us stodgy and slow from the moment of regaining possession.
FOYTH – 5
For a period, I found myself looking to him to provide leadership and control from the back but centre back is a ninety plus minute task and he can also look frail and hesitant. A work in progress … as I’ve always said, I’d like to see a player of his quality make the grade.
ALDERWEIRELD – 5
Charitable or uncharitable? Charitably, he is on his way back … slowly. Uncharitably, he resorted to getting booked to get himself out of trouble; his uncommitted header laid on their equaliser. He didn’t assert authority. Uncharitably, £150,000 a week? On this showing? Get over yourself!
TRIPPIER – 6
Really busy defensively and did get up the pitch. One of the few who looked like they could play for the ‘first team’.
ROSE – 6
Rose looked rusty and offered little. Then, in the last twenty minutes (when they tired and there was some class ahead of him), he came to life with a passion. Why are we not seeing enough of that in his handful of recent cameos?
WANYAMA – 4
Vulnerable at the back, toothless up front, but we really lost it in midfield. Wanyama epitomised arrogance: it wasn’t going to be necessary for him to break sweat to impose himself on them! And whenhe failed to do so, he resorted to bundling players over. Poor.
WINKS – 5
Nice run through in the second half that – woo! – included a shot on target. Always looks busy but was unable to assert control from the centre of the park onwards. Not poor but not good enough.
SON – 5
Was involved in some one touch play and broke away to make attempts at times but his shot and final touch wasn’t there when required and looked less and less of a threat as the game went on. Is he a player who has streaks when he’s on fire and periods when he’s just not on ‘Son’g?
SISSOKO – 4
MOURA – 7
The scorer of our only goal and our only decent effort. He looked a player. He would grace the first team. He was quick, positive, skilful. He was the barometer by which it was possible to measure the inadequacy of just about everyone around him. Oddly, we didn’t try to play through him, even moved him away from where he was having impact – Son was also diminished by that move.
LLORENTE – 5
Poor old Llorente – the sort of thing you say about donkeys in ads targeting the elderly and kind-hearted. But, actually, to be fair to him, during the middle part of the game, I thought he was beginning to find his touch as a target man laying the ball off. But, no, in the end, he epitomised ‘blunt’ – we just don’t look like scoring when he’s there.
Well, we were forced to, but we had to bring on some class in the end. And it should have been enough. Why couldn’t we close the game out? Why did they still have more intent than we did? (But I’m going off on one again…)
Lamela immediately looked quicker and more incisive in midfield. I think Dembele is our holding mid and we sacrifice the other bloke for someone more incisive and progressive like Eriksen (creating room for Moura) or Lamela (creating room for, well, Lamela).
Say what you like about Dele, and I know people do, but dangerous situations emerged with his introduction. I know they were tiring but he adds flair and that’s just what those other players lack for all their workmanlike virtues.
Kane produced his Roy of the Rovers conclusion to the story, only to find Rochdale were prepared to defy the script one more time. So, let’s end this miserable account by, once again, commending those Rochdale players – well done!
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