Saturday, 6 December 2008

Fulham 1 - 1 City

  • A poor performance, but a good point. We looked tired, heavy-legged, off the pace. Jimmy Bullard and Andy Johnson caused us more problems than they ought. Going forward, we created almost nothing. Fulham, not City, should see this as two points dropped. And remember: we've already lost at Middlesbrough, Bolton and Wigan this season. This is not a draw to sneer at.

  • The absence of Robinho forced a tactical rethink: 4-2-3-1 with Kompany and Hamann anchoring and then Ireland, SWP and Vassell behind Benjani. This succeeded in playing our two best attacking players (minus, of course, Robinho) out of position: Ireland on the left rather than in the middle, SWP in the middle rather than on the right. Neither of them looked 100% today, but can not have been played by their relative positions.
  • Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes are really good at heading. Dunne and Ball's tactic of giving them heading practice didn't really make sense. I know we couldn't give Robinho the ball and hope he conjures up something, but we have four good passers in midfield all of whom were smarter options. Someone near me was shouting that it betrayed Ball's true essence - a Football League player. I didn't disagree.
  • We just did not look like a quality team. We talk of patient improvement, a long term plan and so forth but today we looked indistinguishable from any other stagnant mid table side: 'Boro, West Ham, Wigan, whoever. The absence of our superstar (not to mention Petrov, Bozhinov and Johnson, all of whom would have started today), the dulling of the lights of Ireland and SWP, the slapstick defending (Zabaleta and Hart exempted) all made us look so very average. I'm coming to terms with the fact that we are not two or three but four or five players away from challenging - we need our third £60m+ spree within 18 months.
  • We seem to be accumulating injuries at the worst possible time. The absences of Robinho and Richards were expected, as were, of course, Johnson, Petrov and Bozhinov. But I did expect to see Garrido and Sturridge today: I imagine they both would have started (Javi certainly would), and I'm sure would have contributed to a better team performance. Injuries are part and parcel of the game etc etc but it does demonstrate we haven't quite come to terms, as a club, with the demands of European football.
  • This is not a squad capable of playing domestic and UEFA Cup football at a consistently high level. Our European commitments, whilst proving an interesting test (and our best shot at silverware in 2009), have left our squad looking weary and jaded. Having to play twice a week looks to have taken its toll on Kompany, Ireland and Wright-Phillips, at the very least. Whilst we do have a big squad - 24 players have started in the league already - depth isn't just an issue of numbers. Depth is having Tevez, Giggs, Nani and Anderson on the bench, not Logan, Berti and Caicedo.

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