Tuesday 25th November 2014
Did we get our tactics totally wrong on Saturday evening? I’m genuinely not sure we did. Even after gathering my thoughts I am finding it very difficult to be angry or disappointed by the way we played, especially in the first hour. The fact still remains however, whatever way we look at the game, we conceded two goals yet again and came away with absolutely nothing for our efforts.
I’m not a huge fan of international breaks, certainly on the football front. But for aspects away from the beautiful game they come in quite handy a times. Especially I feel after a defeat so on this occasion it was very welcome. The majority of our players enjoyed a successful time away with their respective national squads and it was pleasing to see them all return without any serious injuries.
Of all the TV dictated kick-off times (as long as it doesn’t put you in the doghouse over any previously planned Saturday night activities) I quite like the 5.30pm option. For me the fact you have far more time to enjoy the various pre-match activities available seems to make the day a little bit more relaxing. Kick-off arrives in darkness this time of year too and I do agree with those who suggest there always seems to be a better atmosphere ‘under the lights’.
In relatively recent times just before hugely rich individuals from around the world started chucking their money at clubs in an attempt to buy success, both Man Utd and us were the two most successful clubs in the country. A fixture that has always been attractive, that rivalry had reached massive heights over that time. Still there but arguably not quite as intense these days, it all added to the eager anticipation as kick-off approached.
Given we like many clubs have endured a ‘sticky’ first part to the season, many looked at the game as one where we very much had something to prove.
As mentioned above, for the first hour or so I thought we were excellent. Our passing was good, our workrate was incredible, the desire and confidence looked there, we looked defensively solid and we absolutely dominated the game. Only that oh so crucial aspect was missing on this occasion, Jack missing the best of the many chances we created. Against the better teams of course, not taking the lead when you dominate can prove immensely costly. And Saturday could not possibly have emphasized that any more strongly.
Like against Hull, Anderlecht and Swansea in recent games, the opening goal certainly didn’t see that ‘rub of the green’ come our way. A speculative cross shot in a rare Utd attack strikes Gibbo on the deck and we found ourselves behind. More than frustrating.
If we must be ‘critical’ it has to be when we look at the second goal. As annoying as it was, at 1 nil down we were still in the game. We continued to attack and could have equalised at any stage. To go ‘gung ho’ when only one behind is at best risky, at worst suicidally naive. Against any team you could get badly stung. Against the better sides offensively it is highly highly likely. We have enough experience in the team to prevent this from happening. So no excuse is acceptable.
To come out of the game having played poorly would have been worrying and annoying. Overall however, I felt we played pretty well on the day making only the latter emotion stand out for me. On another day, with a similar performance, we would have won that game comfortably. The fact is we didn’t and we need to move forward quickly.
That comes in the shape of Borussia Dortmund’s latest visit on Wednesday night. We only have ourselves to blame that we are not already through from our Champions League group. Looking at the two games against Anderlecht however, despite the fact it should have been 6, we also have to be honest with ourselves that the 4 points we took could quite easily have been only 1 or 2.
Victoria Concordia Crescit