After a game that had a little bit of everything, I’m just going to condense my thoughts in to 10 post-match points that jump out at me or irked me on the drive home from the game on Friday.
1) The standard of refereeing in the Championship is atrocious! I thought this league allowed players to get away with a little bit more than in the top flight, but yellow cards are banded about for seemingly any level or type of challenge.
The officials seem particularly poor at spotting handballs and other minor infringements that at times are glaringly obvious, and adopt a baffling approach to dealing with defender/attacker long ball challenges. I wouldn’t say they are a particularly biased bunch, although SKD’s reputation clearly goes before him, so in fairness their incompetence is meted out relatively consistently – it just doesn’t half get frustrating.
2) Will Coyle ever sort out our defensive frailties? In my opinion it stems from the lack of cover in midfield, a large amount of space behind the fullbacks on the counter and relatively immobile centre-halves. We really needed to sign a competitive, athletic and physically dominant ball winning midfielder with an overwhelmingly defensive playing instinct.
For a period when Muamba and Holden were fit, we enjoyed a solid central partnership where Holden’s all round ability took the attacking and creative burden away from Muamba, which in turn allowed him to impose his physicality and shut down that danger area in front of our centre-halves.
Jay Spearing is not the answer to our problems and i’ll not hear another word about it! Coyle’s comments on this subject grind my gears – for example tonight he said “We showed a lot of character but there is an element of frustration because we have terrific players who are pleasing on the eye, but we need to stop gifting goals”. I would suggest that this is an area of our game that as the manager he has to affect in training and drills.
It will not be character and spirit that will solve this problem in the long-term; it will be a shift in the system and/or greater defensive responsibility and cohesion between the centre mid pairing (and the midfield as a whole).
3) Chris Eagles is one of those players that need a league in between the Premiership and the Championship. His ability on the ball and that confident swagger puts him streets ahead at this level. If he can consistently perform, cut out poor decision making when it comes to releasing the easy pass rather than trying an audacious flick, then he could be a real asset to us this year.
Of course, there’s certainly no guarantees with Eagles so we’ll have to hope rather than expect.
4) The game cried out for Petrov’s left foot in the final 20 mins. We found ourselves constantly in the final third of the pitch in the latter stages of the game, but frustratingly the responsibility for producing the delivery into the box too often fell to Ricketts or Mears.
Time and again we struggled to put in a meaningful cross into the 6 yard box. It could have easily been a toss-up between replacing Eagles or Lee, who at that time had started to tire and lack creativity, and bring on Petrov with instructions to pepper the box with that cultured left foot. Similarly, Alonso might have proved a useful addition to add that extra attacking guile from deep.
Although I accept the game was in the balance and those substitutions could have overloaded us from a defensive counter attack point of view.
5) Sordell appeared to grow in confidence after taking his goal well. He has stuttered in his performances thus far and struggled to make decent use of the ball at times. After his goal he had certain zip and zest to his play. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a prolific scorer and isn’t the off the shoulder striker that I thought we’d signed, but there were signs that he could prove a useful link between the midfield and attack.
6) Super John McGinlay on Monday and a South Korean TV personality on Friday night. The mind boggles. I demand Ivan Campo – a happy mix of the two; the glamorous hair with the lorry driver’s gut.
7) Lee Camp’s time-wasting goal kick routine amazingly started from the first kick to the last. His desire to play the short ball initially hinted at a tiki-taka philosophy, but that theory was soon undone when it became clear that his long distribution is appalling. Very poor that as professional he hasn’t developed this to a much higher standard.
8) Why doesn’t the big screen run a timer at the start of added time? I wonder if that’s an FA rule, but as far as I can see that’s something I would have spotted and changed after the first game we used it. Yeah not a big point but why not have it?
9) Matty “Pirlo” Mills – I’m not sure whether it’s the ego boost from his white boots or whether someone is playing a trick on him, but the lad really fancies himself to spray it around. It’s just a shame he’s got a US Air Force radar system.
10) ‘Fortress Reebok’? We will just have to wait and see. We gave away 2 goals by gifting Forest too much space near the 18 yards box.
What are your thoughts? Anything I’ve missed that you would have put in or are there points where I’m completely wrong?