Saturday, 31 January 2009

Stoke 1 - 0 City

  • Just when it seemed like we'd turned a corner. Our recent good results (Blackburn, Wigan and Newcastle) were not so much due to exceptional technical quality but more a new found steel and resilience in the team. Today was not necessarily a backward step in that regard - we worked hard all day, and generally defended well in difficult circumstances - but a simple technical failure. We had a clear task: fifty minutes to break down an 8-1-0 formation and we failed to do it.
  • It was a surprise that failed to break them down, but the coincidence of such poor performances from our front four (five when Elano is included) was rather unfortunate. Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Robinho and Bellamy were all sub-par today. Stoke defended very well - Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United all struggled at the Britannia - but our performance was disappointing.
  • The inability to win away games against teams we should be beating is a long standing problem. Last season we drew at Fulham (17th), Derby (20th) and Bolton (16th) and lost at Reading (18th), Birmingham (19th) and Middlesbrough (13th). I thought that this was an area where Hughes would improve us: but thus far in 2008/09 we'd lost at West Brom (20th), Bolton (12th) and Middlesbrough (19th) - and drawn at Blackburn (18th) and Newcastle (15th). But going into the Stoke game I thought that our new-found toughness - particularly with Bellamy, de Jong and Bridge playing - would see us through. I'm sure a similar thought will have occurred to the watching chairman.
  • I wasn't that excited about our buying him, but I'm now more enthused with the potential signing of Roque Santa Cruz. We missed his physical presence up front: Ireland, Robinho, Elano and SWP were all starved of space and we looked short on options. Bellamy and Santa Cruz up front in a 4-4-2 would make sense, but I think Robinho would be rather wasted on the left of midfield. Ideas in the comments...


tommytheblue said...

elano - poor performance? surely he was the only one spreading the play.

big felipe should of come on ealier

Martin said...

once again hughes plays 2 small men up front against mike bassett's talentless long ball relegation candidates. what a waste of time, what is it gonna take to rid our club of this welsh idiot? he has had all season to prove himself, and what has he proved? personally i think he's proved that he can't win a cup tie against mediocre lower legue opposition, he can't play a player in their preffered position, he hasn't got a clue how the transfer market works, he's a fucking moron. im gonna stop now, it is a waste of time berating the usless prick.

Jonah said...

Nothing like getting behind your team eh Martin. What a deluded prat you are. Far better teams than yours have come to the brit and been sent home with their tails between their legs.

Dont believe everything you read in the press about a long ball team. How was the goal scored again? As if a 10 man team against 93m of wasted money is going to come out and attack in the second half.

The onus was on Man City and they failed miserably.

Meanderer said...

I'm with Jonah I'm afraid. I think to call us £93M of wasted money is strong, but we do have deficiencies in key areas - namely the 'big man up front' as Hughes lamented post-game.
I think the pursuit of Santa Cruz has cost us the opportunity of recruiting one now too, so we will always struggle against teams who are physically competitive. Now it looks like Jo's off to Everton, and I can't see him in a city shirt again, I fear the worst for games against the likes of Everton, Stoke, Bolton & Fulham.

I'm not going to play the Wenger card and say those teams are wrong to play the way they do though. They play to their strengths and being well organised and having personnel to suit your system is not a bad plan if you ask me.

We didn't get enough from any of our good players yesterday, Wrighty looked out of sorts, Robinho did the hard task about 3 times, only to fluff the finish, and Elano huffed and puffed without a lot of a return. Bellamy was just crowded out. I'd possibly have brought Caicedo in earlier for his physical strength, but the removal of De Jong - though clearly tiring - just killed our shape and wasn't very constructive.

Shame we didn't concede defeat on RSC a while back and go in for someone like Zigic who can play that 'big fella up top role' perfectly well.

I still think though, to get rid of Hughes at this stage - or even at the end fo the season - would be folly. As JPB continues to point out, the signings he's made have been excellent. I personally rate De Jong, and once he is fully fit, he will be a monster. Maybe Bojinov will come back and add the much needed beef to our attacking line.