Saturday, 21 September 2013

It's a rollercoaster

Well today we had one heck of an entertaining game against Everton, but the most painful part was seeing us walk away with nothing. The worst part of it all is, I don't feel we can blame anyone but ourselves.

The first half we looked very comfortable and Everton only seemed to be a threat from distance, seeing Morrison grab his 1st goal in the Premiership and seeing our midfield and defence look very comfortable was very pleasing to see, the only worry was the lack of clear chances we had despite dominating overall.

The second half was a completely different story, Everton decided to make some changes, the one of note that caused the most problems was Lukaku coming on for Jelavic. He seemed to give Everton confidence and almost every attack was coming through him as a target, then the first of our own mistakes came, James Collins brought down Barkley on the edge of our box, a tackle he probably didn't need to make as he was running out wide and there were other defenders back to cover, Baines hit the free kick beautifully into the top left hand corner and it was 1-1. That hurt and it looked like it was downhill from there as they continued to throw everything at us, then a glimmer of hope appeared, Petric fighting to keep a ball in play and then knocked it to Nolan who was brought down in the box, we then saw Noble comfortably slot the resulting penalty home. Straight after the penalty we saw Nolan come off for Taylor, I think Nolan asked to come off as he had run over to the touchline, but what confused me was Taylor coming on, considering we were being out played by Everton, I expected to see another defender come in to just try and defend that lead as best as possible, but what will be will be. Then, saw the second and third blows to our side in quick succession. Barkley was running at our defence and Noble was charging back and lunged in and fouled Barkley, resulting in another dangerous free kick and the centre midfielder picking up a second yellow and being sent off, two things we really didn't need. In all honesty I don't know why Noble even attempted that tackle on a yellow card, sometimes yes you may get away with it, but the way he immediately looked to the ref after the tackle, made me feel he knew exactly what was coming and I personally didn't think he got the ball, so couldn't complain. This free kick was then superbly struck by that man Leighton Baines again, but this time in off the inside of the right post, Jussi had no chance at all. Then with 10 men and an Everton side who had clearly seen their opportunity threw everything forward and eventually that man Lukaku headed home to seal the 3 points for them.

It was very hard to take, especially given the first half performance, but it seemed the half time changed left us with no answer and then saw us just struggling to hold on, but at the same time, had neither Collins or Noble lunged in, then maybe, just maybe, we could be celebrating 3 points tonight. But I do also question why we brought Taylor on, when we were clearly ball chasing for much of the second half, Petric chased everything down which was great, that's why I thought we may have stuck an extra defender on and defended like our lives depended on it and try to hold them to long shots (not the dead ball situation type though). All in all though, I really hope our players learned something here, don't lunge in on the edge of your area unless you are definitely going to make the tackle.

It was painful but there were definitely positives to take from this game, Winston Reid as seems to be the case in all matches recently is as solid at the back as ever, Petric despite not being fully fit will not give up on anything, Rat looks very comfortable in the Premier League and could build quite a partnership with Jarvis and Morrison looks more and more comfortable on that pitch each game, him and Noble compliment each other well, taking it in turns with who goes forward and seeming to be good outlets to create a goal. It's just a shame that the latter managed to go from hero to zero in a very quick space of time with a clumsy challenge, but that is football and the players need to learn from this, dust themselves down and remember that they could have won and make sure the next time that this doesn't happen.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Transfer Deadline Day - Ups and Downs

At the time of writing this it is half 8 in the evening and transfer deadline day is bringing out, the best, the worst, the funniest and the ugliest in a lot of fans.

Our fans have been hit by the bombshell from Jack Sullivan's twitter suggesting we are probably not going to be signing anyone today. Now don't get me wrong, I am gutted by it as I do feel we could have done with another striker, but at the same time I am not going to be panicking and claiming we are going to be in some relegation battle, like it appears some of our fans now think. This squad was newly promoted last season and we managed to finish 10th, now we have lost the odd player such as Gary O'Neil and Carlton Cole, but we have brought in Carroll, Rat, Adrian, Downing and have the returned Morrison. Now that isn't much of a change, which is, in my personal opinion a good thing, just look at Sunderland who seem to have bought nearly a whole new starting 11, there team just looks confused how to play together. So a few changes here and there is probably a much smarter move, I think Adrian is a good solid backup to Jussi, while Rat will be introduced to the Premiership slowly but surely and could prove to be a promising signing, but until then we do have Joey O'Brien who is doing a solid job covering and the imminent return of McCartney. Defensively I feel we are stronger, as the majority of them have been together the whole time and we now have more strength in depth and they performed superbly in the first 2 games to face 1 shot on target against them, which is a brilliant job no matter who you play against. Midfield wise, we have only really lost Gary O'Neil and have gained Morrison and Downing this year, I was a little gutted by losing O'Neil as I felt he was a solid backup player and this superbly when Noble was absent, but we have gained a great talent in Morrison who looks exciting to watch and will bring something new and unexpected to our side, along with that I still think Downing will prove to be a right coup once he hits form as he can use both feet just like Jarvis and I would always consider him to be threat on the wing. Other than this we still have the likes of Cole, Noble, Nolan, Collison, Vaz Te (although he has handed in a transfer request), who were all part of the set up that helped this side come to 10th last season, so I honestly think we are not lacking in midfield, yes we have been hit by a bit of an injury with Downing out for 3 weeks and I believe Cole out for 4 weeks, but 2 of these are international breaks, so they will be back quite quickly. Then we come to the attack, at the moment we only have Maiga fit, but Carroll is potentially returning for the Southampton game, which means yes we are short in numbers, but last season we only had Cole leading the line when Carroll was out as Maiga was shoved out wide, now I personally think Maiga could come good, he has only played a few games up top, at Cardiff he won most battles, Newcastle he was frustratingly offside for his goal and against Stoke he was poor, but then again, so was the whole team, so I don't think you can personally pin everything on him, if he can win those aerial battles more, which I'm sure he can as he has a big jump on him and possibly hold up play to spread the ball out wide a little more, then I honestly think he can be a good striker, we have already seen he can score, I remember his goal at Southampton well and most feeling he deserved a shot from that goal alone, I personally feel people are quick to blame someone, Carlton Cole last year and now this year it appears to be Modibo Maiga and I feel sorry for him as I think if he gets some confidence, he could be a threat, also with Carroll due to return, we all already know what he can do and he will boost our squad greatly when fit, but lets be honest, he didn't score loads and his fitness does seem questionable as he was injured a lot last season, so we may have to rely on Maiga more, I personally think he deserves a chance to show what he can do until January. If he isn't doing anything then by all means in that window, we will need to get down to business, but we could also try Vaz Te up top on his own too as he is by no means small so may do a job and could have chances if Maiga isn't performing.

I honestly don't see why everyone is panicking so much, yes we are missing a few players but they will be back in a few weeks, including the main one Andy Carroll, so overall I see us as a stronger squad than last season as we now have more depth, yes we are still short up front, but lets be honest with ourselves, we were last year and we finished in the top half of the table, most of our goals came from Midfield and if Carroll can stay fit and find his goal scoring boots or head for that matter, then surely overall we are stronger than last season?

It feels odd being so defensive of Sam Allardyce, as I won't lie, I'm quick to find him frustrating, but I honestly don't think there is any need for us to panic. If come January we are in a relegation scrap, then sure we might want to panic, but right now we're 3 games in and I feel we can comfortably beat teams like Cardiff, Hull, Crystal Palace and probably Sunderland as I feel their squad won't gel at all. Then I'm sure we will be tough opponents for other clubs out there as well, but yes there will be bad days at the office, just like the Stoke game, just as there were last season and seasons before, but as long as they don't become a regular habit, then we really shouldn't be so scared.

On top of this I feel my two good friends on Twitter, Mark and Lawrence (@MarkWHUFC & @Lawrenceee_B) have really made the deadline day enjoyable. Among all the panic, seeing their comical replies or sarcastic comments has actually made me still have some faith in peoples mind. I strongly recommend you give them a follow just for that.