My take aways from last night:
- No need to panic. 42 games left. We are always going to lose some games. Cocu is still getting to grips with his best side, the new players are still getting to grips with the style and system etc. A loss might not be a bad thing if it enables us to kick start the season.
- With Bogle to come back, with Bielik to get to full fitness, with Holmes to come back in and with Marriott to get to 100% we start to look a much better side.
- Bristol City looked decent. I think they'll challenge for top 6. Very solid and well organised - we really struggled to penetrate. With Afobe and Weimann up top they are dangerous on the break and will cause teams problems.
- We weren't THAT bad. We actually created a few nice bits and some of our movement was better. I actually thought that, going forward, we had improved slightly on previous games. And were in not for a couple of mindless individual errors, we weren't caused too many problems.
- One major positive is that we have tactical flexibility - something that we've perhaps needed for some time. Long term, I still think that 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 is the way for us to go, but knowing that we have the players to play with a 3-4-1-2 gives us another option and Cocu seems happy to use it.
- Even if we play a 4-3-3, at times it can become a 3 at the back just naturally and organically. If Bielik sits in front of the back 4, he can drop in as we attack and allow the full backs to bomb on, even Keogh to move forward and get Lawrence more centrally. Which means that...
- ...we get too bogged down in formations on here. What I can see from Cocu's style is that we are a much more fluid team positionally. Our formation is largely redundant and players will drop in and provide where it is needed. If we line up 4-3-3, it does not mean that we are going to play that rigidly for 90 minutes.
- Bogle is a huge miss. We lack so much of an attacking threat from out wide without him. Lowe is doing an admirable job out there but he doesn't give us the same. He looked better when moved out left and we looked better when Zoon gave us some width out there.
- Malone is a player that I have defended on a number of occasions, but I do think that the time is coming to move him out of the first team. Nothing against him, I just feel that Lowe's spell in Scotland and his exposure to the first team has matured him and he should be our first choice left back moving forward once Bogle returns. I just think he's a better option and with Bogle and Lowe on either side, we look dangerous.
- After a slightly shaky start, Bielik showed his worth. He's a rolls royce player. Able to find a pass superbly and always in control defensively. Will be a huge asset for us moving forwards as we've missed a player like him for years. Felt he was wasted in a back 3, personally. Once it became apparent that Bristol City were not going to attack and would sit in second half, I'd have put Huddlestone into the back 3, and moved Bielik into the middle - he was always looking to move it forwards and would have given us more bite in the middle when we needed to win it back quickly to build an attack.
- Huddlestone is not what we need in a game like that. I think he still has a role to play but not last night. Bristol City were sitting back and allowing us the ball - Huddlestone doesn't know what to do in that situation as he just slows the game down so much. For me, he only plays when we are away from home and are going to be up against it as he can put his foot on it and control the game. We need a more mobile option in the middle last night - we needed a box to box player to play in there (Holmes may be that man moving forwards) as that would complement Bielik and Dowell. In a game like last night, and with the quality Bielik has, we have no need to play 2xDMs.
- Jozefzoon is unfairly scapegoated. His final ball wasn't always great but the overreaction amongst fans was too much. It was almost like they were waiting for him to fail. I actually felt he did okay after coming on and gave us some much needed width on the right.
- Bennett is lost on me. I just don't see what he provides. He has to be an impact sub, not technically good enough to start.
- Lawrence looked brighter and got more involved. Should've scored. Should've had more decisions given his way.
- Waghorn needs players closer to him - so isolated, especially against a back 3. Highlights why we didn't need 2xDMs. A box to box player solves that.
- Marriott is a quality goalscorer. But I don't agree with all the 'he has to start' stuff. In that first half, what difference would he actually have made? We didn't create enough chances. We saw so many games like that last season where he was invisible. We need to create more if Marriott starts as he's not a striker who brings others into the game. As it stands, I have no problem with bringing him off the bench to give us something different. May well start v West Brom as I'd expect a more open game where he may be able to get chances. THAT SAID, he is clearly a striker with enormous quality and I would love to see him start. But we need to be creating more chances and not isolating our striker for that to happen.
- Holmes can't come back soon enough. He's exactly what we're missing - the energetic box to box player in the middle. we so missed that last night.
- Roos doesn't fill me with confidence.
Absolutely abysmal performance. Some strange decisions which absolutely affected how we played. every time we were in the ascendancy, we were penalised.
Could actually be just what we need - a team who will likely come at us more and there may be more space for us to create chances. If we can grab a win, on TV, against promotion favourites, last night is forgotten. We seem to struggle against teams who just want to sit back and absorb pressure - I'd be surprised to see a Slaven Bilic side play that way.
Would bring in Knight for Huddlestone for greater energy in midfield and would go with Paterson ahead of Bennett wide right. 4-3-3.
Still think that it has been a solid start to the season. Encouraged by what Cocu had to say after the game and the changes he made in game. Still positive about the season ahead. I think that some fans need to put the start into perspective.