Howdy there neighours, how’s it going? I think I’ve picked up some strain of ebola from the Hull fans at the weekend. Not good.
Anyway, what was that all about? Alex, my season ticket pals and I deliberated post game about what exactly you could bring to the table with regards to that game. It was flat, it was boring and it was pretty expected.
Sure, I can take on board the tired legs angle. You’ve got players like Alexis landing on the Friday. But come on, Hull also had internationals. It’s just simply not good enough to be looking for positives with a draw against Hull City.
But hey, because it’s Monday and you’ve possibly just had me sneeze on your shoulder, we’re going to look at some of the positives.
When you look at the problems Mario is having over at Liverpool, you have to be thankful we landed the Englishman. I think people are bagging on Mario with a little too much relish. He’ll come good, I just don’t know when. As for Danny, he’s a strange old player. He has it all. Brilliant physique, great attitude, a questionable touch at times with blistering pace. He causes problems. He doesn’t have the culture of Thierry, but he’s only young. He’s a great addition and his goal was excellent. We’ll ignore some of the easier chances he missed. He certainly has elements of Adebayor on his game, which is no bad thing.
Jumps off a plane on Friday, on the pitch acting a boss on the Saturday. He’s an absolute warrior. He hustles, he irritates, he whistles past you… he has it all. His two contributions were world class. He’s our Suarez this season. You can’t predict what he’s going to do and worst of all for a full backs, he can do it all. He’s a nightmare. He has so much grit in his game.
I know it was only Hull but the young right was up for the fight. He made some timely interceptions, his pace is frightening and he loves a slide tackle. He’s more than made up for the loss of Jenks and he’s deputising smartly in the absence of any seniority.
I love him. Wenger doesn’t. Whaddya gown do? He came on, he worked his balls off, he opened Hull up and he showed a few moments of magic that got the crowd on their feet. Why he doesn’t get more game time is beyond me. He might be rough round the edges, but he’s a fighter and sometimes, you need that to shake up a game.
Things that weren’t quite working for me?
Well, we play the same way every week. I keep on banging the drum about it, but there’s no plan out there. There’s no real vision for the style of play. I read a G.Nev interview at the weekend and he said that Jose was a man not tied down by philosophies when it came to set up in football. He’s a pragmatist. Wenger is chained to an old ideal that this current batch of players don’t seem to understand. Where are the innovations. Where is the surprise in our set up?
The other thing that didn’t work for me is the way we folded. First 20 we were great, Hull couldn’t deal with us. Then we started to fade, then Hull levelled and we lost our heads. The whole team dropped, like they always do under Wenger. Second half we allowed them in so early it was unbelievable. The reaction was weak. Instead of tearing Hull a new one, we started feeling aggrieved. Things got petulant pretty quickly and we didn’t really spark into action until the last 10 minutes. No plan. No change of direction. No 3 points.
Also, let’s talk about the keeper again. I know it’s not fashionable to bag on Chezzer because he hates Spurs and loves a selfie, but when are people going to wake up to his distinctly average keeping? I don’t know what his shots to saves ratio is, but my oh my, does he ever bail us out of a hole? You watch Chelsea’s new number one and he makes the most outrageous saves. He’s a real contributor to the points total. Our keeper, well, I’d be hard pushed to tell you when he made a great save last?
The first goal we conceded he wasn’t off his line quick enough, quite often a weakness of his. The positioning isn’t the best. The second goal, though a good header, really wasn’t that powerful, he got a hand to it and didn’t keep it out. He’s a bit like Almunia in his early days, he never makes a mistake bad enough to get dropped (well, sometimes he does), but you sense that with a world class keeper with a world class understanding of positioning, we’d be keeping more out. Even against Chelsea for the Costa goal he was in no-mans-land. Leicester for the header. Not that he can help it, being coached by Gerry Peyton can’t be the best. Why Wenger doesn’t have a Jens or a Dave Seaman with the first team is beyond me. Two of the best in the business. Jens especially, scary bastard would kick our number one into shape.
… who is our number one on Wednesday? Martinez. OHHHHEEEHHHHHHGGGEEEEEE.
In other news, our centre back catastrophe continues. Per looks tired and Monreal doesn’t look like a centre back to me. Fans give him a hard time, but for me, he’s a better player out left than Gibbs. Another player who is beyond reproach who has terrible positioning and questionable contribution going forward. I thought Monreal deputised well at the weekend. He looks like Neville, which is unfortunate, but it shouldn’t cloud how you judge him.
The summer farce really does look awful when you look at what’s going on now. Kostas Manolas is playing for Roma under Rudi Garcia and he’s looked a steal so far. He cost them £10m. He’s slipped in, replaced a top, top centre back with ease and Roma are absolutely flying. How did we let him slip through our grip? Who led that decision that we’d be better off with nobody than someone who is holding his own at Roma under a great manager?
Then look around at other players. Why didn’t we go hard for Winston Reid? He’s 23, he’s West Ham’s captain. He’s big, he’s powerful, he was part of a defence that kept as many clean sheets as us last year and he’s a contract rebel. Surely £10m would have moved him to us? Surely we should have pushed hard for him? Again, when is complete inaction ever a better solution? It’s like being lost out in the jungle for 12 days, finding a Steve’s Tasty Fried Chicken and refusing the food because you’re against transfats. Again, what the hell is Steve Rowley doing? Again, what is our £2m scouting system adding if it can’t identify players we can sign?
Same has to be said of the CDM. Where is he? How did our chief scout bomb out that badly? What’s going on behind the scenes that means we consistently miss out on the best talent? Something is broken, that’s for sure, because other managers in the game are addressing their squad issues.
Look at Ronald Koeman. A smart manager used to working on a budget in a smart way. He’s absolutely smashing it at Southampton. Tadic is brilliant, Pele is smashing them in. The only player they’re apparently missing is Lovren. It’s smart but obvious management. Lose players, replace them with better ones. What do they have, that we don’t? Bar better planning and a more taking a intelligent distributed approach to power and responsibility? I reckon so.
I tell you what is interesting at the moment, the man everyone is touting for Arsenal, Jurgen Klopp, is being found out big time in Germany. He’s looking every inch the one trick pony at the moment. His pressing game has been exposed. I think he lost again yesterday. When his players press, smart young managers are realising that if you play your way out of it, you have loads of space. He’s also suffering Arsene Wenger like injuries because he’s probably taking that intensity into training with a small squad.
I’d be looking at managers like Rudi Garcia, who is still doing great things at Roma. That really is going to be Ivan’s crowning moment.
What’s the plan… who are you going to pick? Because I’m looking at what’s going on at the moment with Arsene and I’m wondering whether he’s going to last the three years. He’s looking more and more clueless as time passes. I don’t think he’ll see it out. He can’t even deal with a few tough but fair questions from Jaqui Oatley. He looks a dead man walking. He’s just lucky Spurs are having a disaster under Pochettino and United are not firing under Louis Van Gaal. We’re lucky we’re just 4 points off top 4.
Anyway, more as the week goes on.
Alex Fynn is speaking at the AST Meeting tonight, come down if you’re about, it’ll be interesting as always. Hopefully we can sort out a podcast soon. Buy his new book here…