Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Deja vu

On the fan scale there are two extremes. At one end we have the knee jerkers. After a result like tonights in the Carling Cup, they call for Rafas head. There was one in the pub that I was watching the game in tonight. At the other end of the spectrum we have the superfans. They won't hear a bad word said against the manager, no matter what. I feel that I am somewhere in between. You won't hear me calling for Rafa's head but I do believe that he has made mistakes along the way. Being knocked out of the Carling cup isn't a disaster but the manner of the defeat at home was terrible.

The defence was as amatuer as a primary school team. Again we tried to play football, again we defended like children and again Arsenal picked us off with every attack. I have no problem with trying to play football but we have to be able to defend too. Paletta doesn't look anywhere near ready yet. Sami suffers when playing against pace. Aliadiere, a player I don't really rate, and Baptista, a player I rate very highly, tormented Sami. There is no point in playing him against teams like Arsenal. He is fine for matches like the Bolton one where the danger is primarily in the air. Peltier looked exposed as not yet ready for this level. Warnock was probably our best defender on the night but he still isn't of the required level for a premiership title. Dudek was poor again. Thanks for the memories Jerzey but it's time to go.

Arsenal's youngsters and reserves were much better than our youngsters and reserves which wasn't a major surprise. I think that this is something that Rafa is trying to change with his purchases. Wenger has a great eye for talent but he has had to pay a lot for his young stars. Our transfer policy seems to be changing from just local talent to include young prospects from abroad like Antwi, Astrit Ajdarevic, Insua and an Argentine winger called Leto who is currently being linked to us. If we can couple these young signings with local British and Irish talent like Jamie McCarthy, we should be able to build a strong team for the future. Rafa has said that he wanted to sign players like Walcott and Denilson but couldn't compete for price with Arsenal. Hopefully our investment will come off and we can sign the stars of the future too.

Both Garcia and Gonzalez came off injured. That leaves us a little short of left midfield options. It will probably be one of Riise/Warnock/Aurelio for now. The Lucas Neil transfer should go through in the next seven days according to the Lancashire Telegraph. I think that he'll be first choice left back for the moment if he does sign.

I think that it's time to refocus on the league. I hope that the team can forget about these last two results and concentrate on Watford away. This should be very winable. A good three points will get us back on track. A clean cheet would be a bonus after conceding nine in two games.

The Italian league comes back from it's winter break this weekend and Roma travel to Messina. In Spain Barca have to go to Espanyol hoping to bounce back from a draw last week. Good luck to both.


Eoin said...

hey Mal,

bad time to be a red. I really thought after that Bolton result that They would beat Arsenal twice, both games being at home.

Hard to pinpoint where it's gone wrong, Benitez certainly is a good manager, but might not be the manager to win them the Premiership.

I think he has signed too many average players, though Alonso and Bellamy would get into almost any side. They need a world-class centre-back, even if it means spending 20m and signing nobody else for a year.

I thought Rafa was right to defend Dudek in the interviews, but if he really believes that jerzy wasn't at fault, then he's delusional. I think he may have played him to put him in the shop window for a sale, but that has backfired if it was the case.

I guess right now that you'd accept 4th in the league, cause the other 3 look a lot better. On saying that, a few more results like Bolton, and things should be ok.

Mal O'Brien said...

Don't know about us neading a CB. Dagger and Carra look to be getting a decent partnership together as our league form has shown. Second best defence in the league, only 3 goals conceeded at home. I think we need a top quality winger. The ones we've signed are good but not brilliant. Utd have shown with C Ronaldo what a difference top quality penetration on the flanks can make. I reckon that we should be able to get third place. Arsenal may have battered us here but they're still inconsistant in the league. Wouldn't be surprised if blackburn beat them at the weekend.