Filed: Monday, 1st September 2014
By: Gary Portugal
Despite a poor pre-season,there were reasons for optimism. Eight new signings (so far), including one of our best signings in years in Kouyate.
But squandering a chance to put away ten-man Spurs and a thoroughly sub-par performance against Southampton have been a reality check. Kind of like our sub-par home performance vs Stoke at the start of last season. Three straight home defeats is not cause for optimism, no matter how good the result was at Palace.
Now, three games in, we are already looking over our shoulder. Not only at two home defeats but the NATURE of those defeats in which we capitulated both times.
Bookmakers predict us to finish 14th now which seems about right, as apart from the newly promoted sides there arenít many teams I can see us finishing above. This, after spending circa £25million in the transfer market and after the misery of last season. With eight new signings, why do we look no better than last season and WORSE from a defensive point of view?
In Southampton, we lost to a club that has lost many key players and with a manager unproven in the Premier League. This, a team we took four points off last season when they had significantly more talent. Something isnít right. Obviously the players bear a lot of the responsibility though more so the players who have been at the club, rather than the new signings. But Allardyce also bears a lot of the blame.
Against Southampton our passing and movement were dire in contrast to that of our opponents, which was excellent. Our guests pressed us to death whilst we seemingly allowed them to pass around us at will. It was embarrassing. And Sam seemingly had no answer for it.
This was a team likely to finish mid-table, maybe just inside the top half. Not a Champions League calibre side. But we were second to everything. They were so much brighter and more determined. This time, it canít be blamed on Nolan, although Iím not a fan of his. The work rate of some of our players was appalling, especially that of Vaz Te.
Yes Allardyce made substitutions to try to rescue the game, but why did he not remove an ineffective Vaz Te at halftime? Why did even start a player who has been ineffective so far this season? That said, Diame was not much of an improvement when he came on. Despite our new signings, we were unable to create any kind of passing game and resorted back to hoofball.
Most galling was our poor defence of set pieces, which is unacceptable at any level, but especially in the top flight. And this is supposed to be an area of the game which Sam has mastered. How could we have been fooled not once, but twice by a short corner? The ref may have got the decision wrong in awarding the corner,but our players have to get on with it rather than sulk like primadonnas.
Our playersí reaction to the decision is indicative of an attitude problem. Our players are forever moaning at refereesí decisions and each otherís mistakes instead of digging in. Is Sam unable to combat this petulance and childishness? Is he unable to instill and maintain discipline in the club? Every club has bad apples. Why is it that other managers seem to command more respect from their players than Allardyce does?
Once we conceded , and then fell behind, we never looked like getting back into the match Saturday. We showed no fight or resilience apart from Kouyate and perhaps OíBrien and Cresswell. Hopefully the arrival of Song will help address this. Compare us to Leicester and Hull who fell behind last weekend, but at least fought back. Or to Real Sociedad , who were 2-0 down to Real Madrid yet won 4-2 . Even Everton fought back after going 2-0 down at home to Chelsea. We just rolled over against the Saints. Which begs the question - can Sam motivate our players ?
The excuse of injuries rings hollow. There is enough talent and depth in the squad to cope . The exception is on the left wing , where apart from Jarvis we have nobody up to the task, if Downing plays on the right. Could Noble be forced to play wide right until Jarvis recovers, with Kouyate and Song in central midfield?
It can't be any worse than playing Vaz Te or Diame on recent evidence. How much time does Sam have to turn things around? Not a lot in my view Ė until the end of September perhaps. Starting at Hull, there must be a significant improvement, in a game we cannot afford to lose against a potential relegation rival.
Results against Liverpool and a recently-bolstered Man Utd may be less important than performances at this stage of the season, but we may need a point from one of those matches to stay out of the bottom three at the end of the month. Itís a long season, but to be marooned in the bottom three after six games is depressing , and is a real possibility if we fail to get a result at Hull.
Perhaps the closing of the transfer window will focus minds, especially that of Winston Reid who has started the season in a sub-par fashion. But Sam has nowhere to hide now. Circa £25million has been spent and the opening fixtures cannot be described as having been unduly harsh.
Nobody expects miracles. But people DO expect a proper defence of set pieces. And do expect us to not allow our opponents to pass the ball at will. And do expect to not lose home matches to mid-table opposition. Allardyce is running out of excuses and time. I can't see him seeing out his contract unless there is a substantial improvement over the next 4-6 weeks. I Ďm not holding my breath.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
12:14PM 28th Jul 2009
''Nice to read a bit of positivity instead of all the doom and gloom merchants, well done!
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