Opinion: Europa League – We are not worthy

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Jose Mourinho
RICHARD HEATHCOTE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

If you are looking for an anti-Jose screed, go elsewhere. I won’t defend him. I won’t make excuses for him. I will accept the entirely conceivable fact that his team is not particularly interested in playing for him, or that the game has passed his philosophy by. But those factors pale in comparison to the actual performance of his players today—which is simply shocking in its continued lack of verve and skill.

So let’s take our players one by one. The goalkeeper has no problems. His hand save preserved the point. His leadership emerged on Sunday. We can move on. Ben Davies is slow and lacks ideas or skills going forward—he is an adequate defender at best these days. There never is much of a threat going down the left anymore. The two Belgians are in their older years. Toby’s route one attempts by and large were ineffectual, he made a joke of a pass into open space after a corner on one of the many Spurs forays that produced nowt. Jan is even slower and can’t defend at this level any longer-he was fortunate that Callum Wilson’s kick hit Josh King’s arm or he’s the goat in a defeat. One of the goats. Serge Aurier? Oh my God. Where do I start? The crosses are simply ineffectual. He no longer tries to go forward with any other kind of move. And too often a pass to him is met with a simply bass back to Alderweireld and the whole boring exercise begins again.

But to be fair the defence did not allow a goal. And not against Everton either. It is for the rest of the squad that the real criticism must be aimed—for we are now a shadow of the young and dynamic sides being assembled in West London or the red part of Manchester (let alone the powerhouses on top of the league)—and I’m afraid even against the scum this Sunday. 

Harry Winks operates as if there is a force field two yards in front of him, and he dare not ever cross that point. When he does—and it is rare—there simply never is a good idea forthcoming. He doesn’t belong at this level of football. Giovanni lo Celso entices us, but like his Danish predecessor seems to go missing all too easily as well. He did in the first half today. Moussa Sissoko, for everything he does right, will hardly ever do much to produce a scoring chance—today that end product was absolutely nothing as he had pretty much a nightmare, particularly in the first half. Tanguy Ndembele competed—the final pass was off—a lot—but he was actually trying to break the Cherries’ defence down. I want to see more.

Bergwijn had a poor half and was taken off. Lamela worked his ass off but simply lacks the pace or the ability to pass at the right time to have all that activity mean anything. Kane was constantly harassed, often double-teamed, as he tried to hold the ball up—thus all the failed attempts to clear the zone in the second half. Lucas was poor, particularly on the occasions when he had the ball and was moving toward the goal with pace. Son has simply not been the same player since before the pandemic and military service time—I can’t quite figure out what’s wrong but it’s apparent.

The net effect is a mostly unwatchable product. Surely Wolves, Sheffield United, or even the Woolwich would be better representatives in the second-tier competition next year. Surely the few million quid Levy might make on those games counts for very little compared to all of the other problems. I don’t know how to fix it. I doubt Jose does. And it might be years in the offing before someone does. 

 

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