Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dull Hull

A 0-0 draw away to Hull was a suitably drab way to end to finish what has been a dour and depressing season. We did manage to hit the woodwork through Gerrard and their keeper made a string of good saves. But we didn't have it all our own way and Pepe had to stay alert to keep us in it. In the end we got what we deserved, 1 point. Our dire away form continued, we've only 5 "road wins" this season which is a damning indictment. The only notable aspect of the match was the fact that 16 year old full back Jack Robinson made his debut as a second half sub to become our youngest ever player. He's being tipped as one to watch but it'll be a while before he's ready to challenge for the first team on a regular basis.

With the season now over and no games to look forward to, some might say thankfully, it's time to take stock and figure out what went wrong this year. It's been shocking, on and off the pitch, in a year in which I expected us to challenge or even win the league. Obviously we needed to strengthen the team with the departures of Xabi, Sami, and Arbeloa. Their replacements had mixed results. Johnson had a pretty good season, injuries aside. Kyrgiakos did well, better than expected for a £1m signing. Xabi was sorely missed. Mascherano and Lucas isn't a midfield that can dictate play. Aquilani was a big gamble by Rafa and it didn't come off. I think he's shown some good form since Christmas but he was much more badly injured than initially expected and took a long time to gain match fitness. Rafa could and should have given him more game time this year. I expect we'll see the best of him next year and he'll prove to be a good signing in the long run. His problem is that he'll always get compared to Xabi, which is a high standard to meet. Maxi was a great signing and has slotted in perfectly. We got a bargain there for £1.5m. It's a pity we didn't buy him in the summer as we could have used him last Autumn.

I was and remain a Rafa fan. I still think he's the best man for the job. Some fans, in growing numbers, think sacking him would be a panacea for our ills. I think that's pretty short sighted and misses the point. The only reason to sack him is if you think we can get somebody better in to replace him. Who might that be? As long as the two Americans remain our owners we're fucked. Whoever the manager is will have to cope with debt repayment squad sales and being undermined at board room level. My fear is that they will push Rafa out and get a yes man in who won't call them for the cheat, lying theives that they are, like Benitez has since Athens. He's the only one in there fighting for the club and the fans. Yes, he's had a bad season this year, really bad, but I think he's enough credit in the bank to deserve another go next year. If next season is as bad as this one then it's time for a parting of the ways. For now, I'd keep him and keep hoping that we get investment sorted before the September 1st.

Mascherano is putting contract talks on hold. I fear he'll be sold and he probably won't be the only one. Sad and sobering times.

I'll be taking a break over the summer unless there are some big transfer deals or a bit of investment news over the summer. Keep it red.

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