Home Run Ends With A Whimper
Bristol City 1
• Pearson 79
Friday, 30th December 2011
Match Report :
I waited deliberately until the morning after before I wrote this report, I was actually quite annoyed when I left the ground and I've been able to get a little perspective since then.
I was not annoyed because we lost, although it's been quite a long time since I've actually watched us do that, I was more annoyed because there were some very obvious things wrong yesterday and nobody seemed to be able to do anything about them?
Anyway, more of that in my conclusion, here's what I thought of the actual players.
Player Ratings :
Davis - made some great stops on several occasions, however couldn't hold onto the ball when it counted. I may be being a little harsh here but, from my angle, I felt he could have held on to the ball when it was fired towards goal, certainly for their offside goal, possibly also for the one that counted? 6/10, still a great shot stopper, keepers these days should remember you can also catch the football, it is allowed…
Richardson - He was adequate defensively, not being caught out often and providing reasonable cover for our rookie centre back just inside him however, offensively he was very poor. He just couldn't seem to find a decent cross, he got in lots but they never looked likely to cause any kind of trouble for the city defence. 6/10, lots of endeavour but nothing to show for it and lacking in that little bit of quality yesterday.
Martin - he did okay, he didn't look as flustered as he has done when starting on previous occasions (not all of them I admit), dealt with the aerial stuff pretty easily as we would expect from someone of his height. Doesn't think as quickly as Fonte and doesn't provide the same range of passing ability to bring the ball out of defence and transition into attack, he made Hooiveld nervous but that's not his fault, just that he's not José. 6/10 a reasonable starting performance but he's still got some learning to do.
Hooiveld - as I said before, he looked anxious yesterday, a stable centre back pairing is absolutely vital, we saw it with killer and Claus years ago and we certainly have a similar synergy going on now with this pair. Anyway, his performance was okay, I felt he could have helped out Kelvin a little more with the ball bouncing out but again, adequate best describes his performance. 6/10, subdued could also be used as a description, not as dominant as we are used to.
Fox - targeted all night by Bristol city long ball, dealt with that reasonably well but his delivery from set pieces was, by and large, rubbish. Nothing delivered from corners or free kicks had that magic required to make sure it arrives where it needs to be. Defensively did much better than the last Bristol city performance, offensively poor and in our current fashion of play you cannot have poor wingback performances. 6/10, should do a lot better.
Lallana - just when I thought he might be getting back towards what we need he gives a performance like this, slow, uninspired and irrelevant. None of those three words can usually be used for him but he should have been substituted much earlier than he was as his performance yesterday did much to slow down our attack and nothing to deliver anything that troubled Bristol city at all. 4/10, every game should be what you are measured on, what he was in the past is what he needs to become again, something is going on with him and I don't know what it is but it's not good for Saints?
Schneiderlin - if you could have two contrasting performances in a row showing brilliance and ineffectiveness in turn, you could not get better examples than Schneiderlin playing against Crystal Palace and then against Bristol City. His tackling was tenacious, that was really the only significant way in which he demonstrated again what he showed us the previous game, his passing was off, he found it very difficult to find space and Cisse completely dominated midfield removing his significance from the game utterly. 5/10, stemmed their attack but created nothing.
Cork - a very combative performance again, he puts it about a bit for a slight individual and is becoming much more effective even though he shouldn't be able to win as many tackles as he does. Not as effective in working with the offensive play down the wings as the last game, it showed and he also needs a lot of shooting practice, as do all of our midfield. 6/10, not the worst of our uninspiring midfield performance yesterday but is capable of so much more as he has so ably demonstrated previously.
De Ridder - a good performance, he seemed willing to run and run, had the beating of several of their players (although he still needs to learn he doesn't need to beat every player in the opposition team before releasing the ball) and was by far our most useful, dangerous and willing attacking player yesterday. When other players have bad days some players step up, yesterday was the day he stepped up, it's a shame he didn't have enough others that did the same to make his performance worthwhile. 7/10, MOM although yesterday that's not necessarily much
of an accolade, needs to be more consistent in his delivery, a new name springs to mind, Sporadically Super Steeeeve… What do you think?
Guly - a truly insignificant performance from Mr Do Prado, he disappeared off into the territory he occupied during the Portsmouth game and didn't really look like he was going to deliver anything like he did in the last game for us. I can't really think of a lot more to say, he was superfluous although not helped by being asked to play 20 min on the left wing. 5/10, he tried but nothing came off for him yesterday, disappointing.
Lambert - so often our talisman, yesterday seemed to just be a target man and although he delivered in that role reasonably well, he had no one playing off him in any significant way to make it worthwhile doing that. His frustration started to show and I don't blame him, not his best performance for us but he had no support except for Sporadically Super Steeeeve, 6/10, huffed and puffed, never showed much likelihood of blowing the Bristol city house down.
Connelly - introduced far too late in the game, when they did put him on they then continued to pound balls airborne into the middle of their defence, not sure why? Felt sorry for him but they have played without him so long that they don't now how to play with him any more. 5/10, did nothing although I hoped he would, not helped by tactics and late introduction
Hammond - I was quite surprised he didn't start, although it would have been difficult to drop either Cork or Schneiderlin after their last impressive performances I was surprised Nigel didn't introduce some more combativeness to our midfield for the Bristol city game. Anyway, charged around when he came on but without Morgan’s ability to see a pass (somehow negated today) and with very little time to do anything about anything was largely ineffective. 5/10, the game had gone and it wasn't coming back when he came on.
Holmes - I suppose he was the only option we had that might have changed the game being as Connelly didn't work, then Nigel puts him on (a left winger remember) as a right back, I have no idea what that was intended to achieve but it was predictably ineffective. 2/10 for what he brought to the game but 5/10 because he had no time to affect anything and he was played out of position, it's not fair to judge him bearing those things in mind.
I've got to hand it to Nigel, he obviously really believes his "believe in yourself utterly and everything will come out right" mantra, he demonstrated it very ably last night by completely believing in his own tactics and disbelieving his own eyes when nothing he tried worked.
We had several issues going on last night but the two major ones from my point of view were :
- We have to be flexible enough and intelligent enough to realise when an approach is not working and adapt our attack to learn from this.
- The other thing was the players, they just looked jaded, considering there was a reasonable timeframe between games I can't even begin to guess why this might be the case without veering off into babbling guesswork best found elsewhere.
Our strength has always been our ability to play football, Bristol city, like Reading on another occasion took our football away and didn't let us have it back again… They denied our team space, time on the ball & most damningly an easy way of attacking them (why can't we do things differently when the original tactics don't work Nigel?)… Anyway, we let them get away with it.
Bristol City are half a good football team, offensively they have a very good lineup, support players do well and their substitutes bring something different to the mix.
Defensively they are weak, I know we didn't exploit that yesterday but you could see pace and movement would have carved them to pieces, it is to our shame we did not have those attributes available to bring to bear.
We desperately need alternative personnel, several of them, to be able to change things and to be able to adapt as required to circumstance.
We need an alternative to Guly & Lambert upfront, we urgently need TRUE pace out wide and above all we desperately need someone who can find our attackers from the midfield without heading to the wings and the inevitable ball in to head that so many championship teams can deal with very easily…
We shall see, it doesn't seem unreasonable to invest now for a chance of a minimum £90 million payoff… if the money is available, and I'm not suggesting we mortgage the future here, it would be nuts not to…?
02 Richardson (Holmes 88)
13 Fox (yellow card)
04 Schneiderlin (yellow card) (Hammond 80)
20 Lallana (Connolly 77)
33 De Ridder
01 James (yellow card)
06 Carey (yellow card)
18 Wilson (yellow card)
21 Cisse (Kilkenny 66)
27 Adomah (Clarkson 90)
37 Pearson (yellow card) (Woolford 86)
10 Maynard (yellow card)