A wake up call for AVB

Before I move on to Manchester City, the piece below was penned but not posted on the 11th after the Newcastle defeat.

Another opportunity, another failure. We had the chance to steal a march on our rivals as the results turned out but we couldn't take it, our scoring problems persist.

Now I've not bothered to read the media so I am guessing they feel we were unlucky, if the commentary was anything to go by, but I can't agree with that. That is the easy option, that is a cop-out.

I have discussed in previous articles the problem we have and until we resolve it we will still have these bad days. If you can't score goals you are at risk off consistently dropping points or suffering 1-0 defeats.

Why weren't we unlucky because we had all these shots? Well the only shots that matter are those inside the area, those outside are just hit and hope extras so what did we do with our shots from inside the penalty box.

We shot at or just either side of the keeper generally, we made it easy for him and we made him look good when quite frankly any Premier League keeper you would expect to have done the same thing. He didn't pull off magnificent saves, yes a couple of very good ones but you expect that.

I have spoken before about being clinical and having that within your team culture. You don't go through the motions when you are 2 or 3-0 up, you clinically tuck away the chances that come to win 4, 5, 6-0 and then when you need that composure in games like yesterdays it is natural. Our finishing was poor, mainly from our midfield.

The balls into Soldado were slightly behind him making getting them on target almost impossible. When we got round the back which was all to rare we cut the ball back instead of across the 6 yard box.

And so on to the Manchester City game.

The international break gave us supporters a chance to have a breather from Premier League football, shame it wasn't now because I think plenty of supporters would fancy a break from it right now.

Some supporters will have gone into the game with blind optimism, trotting out the same old excuses about waiting for the team to gel etc when the problems are deeper than that. I have to admit I feared the worse. As I indicate above if you can't create chances to score you can't win so a defeat was always on the cards against an unbeaten at home Man City side on a large pitch.

That large pitch I thought may help us and it did after our mistake a game goalkeeper produced one after 15 seconds. We then had a period of possession and created from the right where Lennon was restored, Lamela made a mess of the opportunity not even shooting on target.

We looked good and then conceded again, game over. The other four were painful to watch. Our midfield was dreadful and the two biggest culprits were Holtby and Paulinho.

However one has to wonder about our tactics and what AVB has drummed into the players because whenever the ball was played into midfield these two played the ball backwards, Holtby often 20 yards back to the centre backs, even when there was time and space to turn.

The idea is to play the ball into midfield and look to play it forward again quickly, we simply don't do that. Is that because the players are not good enough? Is that because possession is drilled into them and that has become more important than actually trying to create anything? Is it because we have bought to many versatile players and not enough specialists?

Take Lamela, who looked totally out of his depth. He had a brilliant game in the Europa League, confidence was sky high so why didn't he get game time against Newcastle? When a player is struggling and he produces the kind of performance Lamela did surely you bring him on for the last half hour on the right where he looks his most comfortable.

However AVB messed up selection in that game and had to make half time substitutions putting his mistakes right. That left Lamela on the bench. Come a big game he then puts him on the wrong wing. A player wants a position and to keep playing that position, he doesn't want to be thinking I might play here, I might play there, I might not play at all.

The one positive that came out the game for me was Dembele. When he was brought on and played further forward we looked a little dangerous, Holtby creates nothing as a number ten, our midfield is overrun if we play 4-4-2.

The players certainly have to look at themselves in the mirror because they gave up and were shambolic, they played as if they were in shock. They played as if they were a child who has constantly been told they are brilliant and suddenly found out they are not, they went int their shell and shut down.

AVB needs to take a good long hard look in the mirror. His mistakes early last season cost us Champions League football and the signs are that he has messed up in the transfer market. It looks as if he doesn't know what his best team is, that he is playing people to keep them happy, quite apart from the mistakes he has made with the wingers.

We sit 9th, yes we are only 3 points away from a respectable position but our goal difference is dreadful at -3 now so already we have to get more points than the eventual top four as we won't sneak in on goal difference, but then the top four looks a long way away at the moment.

The winger situation needs addressing, the left-back situation so Vertonghen can stay at centre-back and our midfield needs to change from passing backwards to passing forwards.

Our next game is Manchester United and defeat is on the cards there as well, where will that leave us in the table?




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