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86 Schmokes & a Pancake

Happy-Clapper Ramblings From The Bottom Of A Glass

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A couple of stiff liveners and a few deep breaths later… Mulling over where we’re at and where we could be. A less emotive mind might take the view that in a stop-start and transitional season, we’re not in a bad place at all. Yes, the cheating, filthy outfit whose name I shall not utter, have once again ruthlessly exposed our shortcomings but for me personally, any other expectations of mine were probably quite fanciful and based on unreliable metrics anyway.

Or were they? It’s a fair question to ask. How is it that we can look so good against teams such as United and Chelsea and then appear so all-at-sea against a highly competent, but not brilliant outfit such as ****s. Perhaps it’s oversimplifying things but I wonder whether to a degree we were not outmuscled and somewhat intimidated tonight. We certainly did not appear up for the fight at any point in the game and our passing stats might reveal an uncomfortable truth inferring more than a lack of basic ability, that being that part of the reason for so many misplaced passes was that nobody was showing for the ball. Put simply, we were too scared to play our natural game. Might this, allied to a fiercely consistent press from the opposition, better explain an astonishingly high number of errors in the first half better than putting it down to mere ineptitude?  I think Bielsa and his team called our bluff tonight and we simply folded under the pressure. This is not to discredit the team whose name shall not be spoken, but rather to try and fathom the inconsistency that has frustrated our efforts at closing the gap to the top two.

Post-mortems are all well and good and I suspect Frank will be annoyed with himself as much as he will be with the lads. We win draw and lose together after all, it’s the nature of the game. This said, we can’t simply pin a performance like tonight’s on formations, personnel or even tactics because if we don’t do the basics, we will always struggle against quick, physically strong sides who are well drilled and confident in their respective roles. No matter how much I dislike Bielsa, he has put together an absolute machine of a side with all parts seemingly interchangeable with no loss of intensity. If he wasn’t such a massive **** I’d find the man quite admirable.

The really stark difference for me tonight was the filthies movement off the ball which I thought was genuinely of Premiership quality, as were their fitness levels. They press, attack and defend as a unit and to a man they clearly understand what is expected of them. This clarity of thought frees their minds allowing them to simply play. Sounds easy but few managers in this division produce teams that are so cohesive in BOTH defence and attack. Wolves were a similar outfit last season, though a rung above Leeds IMO. In short, yes, Frank and Jody need to re-think some aspects of their approach, but the boys have to put up too.

So where do we go from here? Regular posters will know I’m pretty much formation stupid so it’s probably a strange place for me to start, but I’d love to see us playing two up top. Hoofing long balls into Marriott with ogres like Pontus duckface halfway up his harris is going to get us nowhere so against sides with a well drilled defence, should we stop assuming or hoping Jack can do it all on his own? I think we should. Would a 4-4-2 provide more cover for our fullbacks too?  No bad thing perhaps?

As for the bigger picture, it strikes me that we simply need a stronger spine through the team – by that I mean a midfield general and a truly dominant CH who can also play a half decent pass as and when required. If we are to bring in new blood during this window, these would be my prime areas of focus for the little that’s worth. A sam Winnall type striker option would also be nice though probably rather greedy. The point is, sometimes a modest change can bring about spectacular improvement – the old heads will cite Dave Mackay, more latterly Igor Stimac and even more recently John Eustace. I don’t think the wholesale changes demanded by some on the match thread are required, just one or two bodies in whom we know can make a real difference. Perhaps we’ve moved a tad too much in the direction of youth and a seasoned pro or two can help galvanise the abundant talent we’ve all seen at times, albeit fleetingly?

As for the balance of the season, well we’ve got a stupidly disproportionate number of the tougher games out of the way considering we’ve barely breached the halfway point. It’s also worth bearing in mind that teams have come from far further back to challenge than we currently sit, Fulham last season being a case in point. Are the autos then really done and dusted? I guess we’ll know 2 or 3 games after the window whether or not such thoughts are just a pipedream or something more wonderful, but this happy-clapper won’t be giving up any dream just yet. If I were that way inclined, I’d give up watching the game completely because if I daren’t dream, I’ve no right expecting the players to either. Football without fanciful and unrealistic dreams? What would be the point?

COYR

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8 minutes ago, The Scarlet Pimpernel said:

any chance of you translating ? You seem to be something of an expert for some reason 

 

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I agree with what you say about powerful opponents being a massive problem for us. I've felt for most of this season the spine of this team falls apart in games against any team with a strong midfield. It's happened against Leeds twice, against Villa at home and to a lesser degree against Boro recently. Unless you're miles better than the opposition, you can't get away with playing two players of Bryson and Mounts stature in the center of the park in a big away game, you're asking to get bullied.

Another thing that's been bothering me this season is how in a lot of games our midfields shape will just disappear completely and unless Huddlestone is on the pitch and having a blinder, we rarely control games anymore. Today was a perfect contrast between the sides, with us playing kick and rush for the entirety of the first half while leeds would just calmy pass forward from the back and contain us. I'm not sure if Leeds even lumped it once to Roofe whereas we spent the majority of the game smashing it in Marriott's general direction only to watch him lose the resulting battle with their two giants at the back.

Whether we solve this through signing a midfielder, changing the personnel in midfield or by adjusting our shape, I don't know. I feel it's paramount we do something to work on our transition from back to front because it's our biggest weakness at the moment. Well that and our cursed left-back position.

Still can't be too upset, Leeds are a good side and as much as I despise them I think they'll end up in the automatics. We're also finished with the rest of the current top 6 until West Brom in the last game of the season, so that's definitely a positive.

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20 minutes ago, lrm14 said:

I agree with what you say about powerful opponents being a massive problem for us. I've felt for most of this season the spine of this team falls apart in games against any team with a strong midfield. It's happened against Leeds twice, against Villa at home and to a lesser degree against Boro recently. Unless you're miles better than the opposition, you can't get away with playing two players of Bryson and Mounts stature in the center of the park in a big away game, you're asking to get bullied.

Another thing that's been bothering me this season is how in a lot of games our midfields shape will just disappear completely and unless Huddlestone is on the pitch and having a blinder, we rarely control games anymore. Today was a perfect contrast between the sides, with us playing kick and rush for the entirety of the first half while leeds would just calmy pass forward from the back and contain us. I'm not sure if Leeds even lumped it once to Roofe whereas we spent the majority of the game smashing it in Marriott's general direction only to watch him lose the resulting battle with their two giants at the back.

Whether we solve this through signing a midfielder, changing the personnel in midfield or by adjusting our shape, I don't know. I feel it's paramount we do something to work on our transition from back to front because it's our biggest weakness at the moment. Well that and our cursed left-back position.

Still can't be too upset, Leeds are a good side and as much as I despise them I think they'll end up in the automatics. We're also finished with the rest of the current top 6 until West Brom in the last game of the season, so that's definitely a positive.

Agree with pretty much all of that. I'm not generally one for second-guessing the manager for obvious reasons but Huddz' absence puzzles me greatly. Yes, he has his limitations but he is by far and away the most capable midfielder we have when teams adopt a high press. Mount at one time showed enough technique to find space under pressure but he's been strangely muted for some weeks now so for me, Huddz has to play.

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5 minutes ago, 86 points said:

Agree with pretty much all of that. I'm not generally one for second-guessing the manager for obvious reasons but Huddz' absence puzzles me greatly. Yes, he has his limitations but he is by far and away the most capable midfielder we have when teams adopt a high press. Mount at one time showed enough technique to find space under pressure but he's been strangely muted for some weeks now so for me, Huddz has to play.

Huddlestone is one of the most composed players in the championship, probably one of the best midfielders as well, yet he was left on the bench while that poo was happening? I know it’s illogical when you’re losing to bring on a cdm, but subbing him on at half time rather than Nugent would have made a difference tonight imo. Still would’ve lost but may have looked less like chumps while doing it

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6 hours ago, 86 points said:

A couple of stiff liveners and a few deep breaths later… Mulling over where we’re at and where we could be. A less emotive mind might take the view that in a stop-start and transitional season, we’re not in a bad place at all. Yes, the cheating, filthy outfit whose name I shall not utter, have once again ruthlessly exposed our shortcomings but for me personally, any other expectations of mine were probably quite fanciful and based on unreliable metrics anyway.

Or were they? It’s a fair question to ask. How is it that we can look so good against teams such as United and Chelsea and then appear so all-at-sea against a highly competent, but not brilliant outfit such as ****s. Perhaps it’s oversimplifying things but I wonder whether to a degree we were not outmuscled and somewhat intimidated tonight. We certainly did not appear up for the fight at any point in the game and our passing stats might reveal an uncomfortable truth inferring more than a lack of basic ability, that being that part of the reason for so many misplaced passes was that nobody was showing for the ball. Put simply, we were too scared to play our natural game. Might this, allied to a fiercely consistent press from the opposition, better explain an astonishingly high number of errors in the first half better than putting it down to mere ineptitude?  I think Bielsa and his team called our bluff tonight and we simply folded under the pressure. This is not to discredit the team whose name shall not be spoken, but rather to try and fathom the inconsistency that has frustrated our efforts at closing the gap to the top two.

Post-mortems are all well and good and I suspect Frank will be annoyed with himself as much as he will be with the lads. We win draw and lose together after all, it’s the nature of the game. This said, we can’t simply pin a performance like tonight’s on formations, personnel or even tactics because if we don’t do the basics, we will always struggle against quick, physically strong sides who are well drilled and confident in their respective roles. No matter how much I dislike Bielsa, he has put together an absolute machine of a side with all parts seemingly interchangeable with no loss of intensity. If he wasn’t such a massive **** I’d find the man quite admirable.

The really stark difference for me tonight was the filthies movement off the ball which I thought was genuinely of Premiership quality, as were their fitness levels. They press, attack and defend as a unit and to a man they clearly understand what is expected of them. This clarity of thought frees their minds allowing them to simply play. Sounds easy but few managers in this division produce teams that are so cohesive in BOTH defence and attack. Wolves were a similar outfit last season, though a rung above Leeds IMO. In short, yes, Frank and Jody need to re-think some aspects of their approach, but the boys have to put up too.

So where do we go from here? Regular posters will know I’m pretty much formation stupid so it’s probably a strange place for me to start, but I’d love to see us playing two up top. Hoofing long balls into Marriott with ogres like Pontus duckface halfway up his harris is going to get us nowhere so against sides with a well drilled defence, should we stop assuming or hoping Jack can do it all on his own? I think we should. Would a 4-4-2 provide more cover for our fullbacks too?  No bad thing perhaps?

As for the bigger picture, it strikes me that we simply need a stronger spine through the team – by that I mean a midfield general and a truly dominant CH who can also play a half decent pass as and when required. If we are to bring in new blood during this window, these would be my prime areas of focus for the little that’s worth. A sam Winnall type striker option would also be nice though probably rather greedy. The point is, sometimes a modest change can bring about spectacular improvement – the old heads will cite Dave Mackay, more latterly Igor Stimac and even more recently John Eustace. I don’t think the wholesale changes demanded by some on the match thread are required, just one or two bodies in whom we know can make a real difference. Perhaps we’ve moved a tad too much in the direction of youth and a seasoned pro or two can help galvanise the abundant talent we’ve all seen at times, albeit fleetingly?

As for the balance of the season, well we’ve got a stupidly disproportionate number of the tougher games out of the way considering we’ve barely breached the halfway point. It’s also worth bearing in mind that teams have come from far further back to challenge than we currently sit, Fulham last season being a case in point. Are the autos then really done and dusted? I guess we’ll know 2 or 3 games after the window whether or not such thoughts are just a pipedream or something more wonderful, but this happy-clapper won’t be giving up any dream just yet. If I were that way inclined, I’d give up watching the game completely because if I daren’t dream, I’ve no right expecting the players to either. Football without fanciful and unrealistic dreams? What would be the point?

COYR

Dave Mackay, more latterly Igor Stimac and even more recently John Eustace.

Putting Eustace in the same sentence  as the other 2, you must be pissed😂😂😂

Edited by Doodle

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7 hours ago, lrm14 said:

I agree with what you say about powerful opponents being a massive problem for us.......

 I feel it's paramount we do something to work on our transition from back to front because it's our biggest weakness at the moment. 

That’s the biggest problem in a nutshell for me.

Smart Managers have done their homework and squeeze our defence, denying time and space; for all his detractors only Keogh is comfortable of fainting a turn and carrying a ball up the park. So many opposition managers set up to close down the route for Carson, making a ball out risky. So Carson goes long, the opposition giant centre half generally mugs us and we reset out of possession again, to battle to win the ball. The only time recent years this hasn’t happened, is when Forsyth is on the pitch and acts as a option out wide in the air.

So we either need a taller target up the pitch or a better coached solution of our transition play, because you’re right, too many teams are making us struggle getting from back to front.

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2 hours ago, Doodle said:

Dave Mackay, more latterly Igor Stimac and even more recently John Eustace.

Putting Eustace in the same sentence  as the other 2, you must be pissed😂😂😂

🤣 Yeah, did seem incongruous but the point I was trying to make was that a single player can make a huge difference, even a signing as apparently bland as Eustace. He came in, steadied the ship and all of a sudden we looked a different side. Perhaps Frank and Jody can make one or two shrewd signings and do likewise. It made sense in my head at the time! 🤣

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23 minutes ago, Angry Ram said:

86 of em, coincidentally the same as the number of times we misplaced passes in the first half.

Read the stat and during the ensuing hissy fit I actually considered changing my username to 86 Misplaced Feckin Passes. Urge resisted, thankfully 🤣

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