The Players Were Poor & Redknapp Got It Wrong
Wednesday night wasn’t pretty to watch. We were systematically taken apart and not only had no plan B but looked at times like we had no plan A. With Chelsea losing and the Arsenal/City game ending in a draw we had one of those moments in a season where a team can really make a statement. Instead of currently being 1 point in front of Chelsea in 5th and 4 points behind Arsenal in 3rd we could’ve had a 4 point cushion over Chelsea and be breathing down the goons necks.
However, before you think this is a massively depressing match review let me put the result into perspective. We lost, but none of the teams around us won so it didn’t hurt as much as it might have done. It was out first defeat since losing to Bolton on 06th November, or if you prefer, our first defeat in 2 months. If we can react well from losing and go on a similar run we’ll enter March still in the chase for the top 4 position we so desperately want, we’ll probably still be in the Champions League and we won’t have lost to United or Arsenal. Teams lose games. That’s nothing new and this season it’s hardly surprising with any team, although Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to Wolves last night was a bit of a pools breaker.
Like everyone else we’ve had a tough festive period and the only other team before Wednesday nights games with a 100% record, Man City, managed to play a game and not get a shot on target at all. As the saying goes, you can’t win them all. I’m going to break this review into three sections, Everton, The Players and Harry Redknapp.
I thought they were excellent. When we played the reverse fixture earlier in the season I was very critical of what I called their “non football” and “anti entertainment” strategy. I believe football is all about entertainment and as such when I see teams play with little or no attacking endeavour I don’t like it. On Wednesday Moyes did what he should’ve done a long time ago and played with two strikers. If I was an Everton fan I’d be slightly annoyed that my team couldn’t play like this all the time. They were agreesive, but on the whole fair, closed us down high up the pitch when they could and attacked quickly and directly.
In Fellaini they had a player who just held his position in midfield and let those around him push on while he helped keep tabs on our attacking threat. Something we didn’t have at any point in the game. Coleman, for the second time, spent the second half tearing us a new one and deserved his winning goal having spent large amounts of the game helping to shackle Bale and then being released to attack seemingly at will once Bale went off injured.
Try and think of a Spurs player who had a good game? You can’t can you? The entire team was knocked off their game and just weren’t at the races from the first whistle. I could highlight players who were worse than others, in particular Jenas, who I felt was out of position for both their goals but also offered little in attack. However, that really wouldn’t be that fair because Modric was poor too. As were Lennon, Bale, vdV and Crouch. There were moments from them all but not enough to warrant a special mention and reprieve.
Defensively we were all over the place and a lack of cover from the midfield meant whenever Everton got past Modric and JJ, which wasn’t hard, they had a free run at the back four. Both our central midfielders were very square so if Everton found the right pass it was simple to bypass our midfield. They all gave the ball away too much throughout the game but more so in the second half meaning we came under wave after wave of Everton attack.
No-one stood up to be counted once they crossed that white line and while I believe the manager has to take responsibility for the game, the players are equally to blame. We needed a leader. No, we needed a few leaders. We needed Dawson to command the defence, Modric to sort out the midfield and keep possession while vdV spearheaded the attack. We could’ve also done without Gomes having one of his flappy mental nights.
It’s an interesting stance that many fans have when it comes to Redknapp, one which I don’t agree with. As I watched on a very hit and miss live feed of the game I tweeted a few times about a lack of substitutions and tactical nous, even as early as half time when it was obvious we needed someone to either sit deep or someone on the pitch more accustomed to breaking up play and protecting the defence. The response I got from most, not all, but most, was that Harry Redknapp has been the best manager we’ve had in decades and we shouldn’t question him because of one defeat.
Harry Redknapp IS the best manager we’ve had in decades. The success the team has had on the pitch highlights that, but no-one at the club is infallible. Even the great Bill Nic made mistakes and I’m sure fans of the time would say so. Most of the time Redknapp gets it right. He’s got a wealth of attacking options and some world class players in the side so he picks them and sends them out to play football. That’s about it really, as both he and vdV have confirmed in the past, but that’s fine when it works.
On Wednesday it didn’t and it was clear fairly early on that it wasn’t working. Ok, so we managed to equalise and if Crouch and Bale knew what offside was, we should’ve gone in at half time 2-1 up which if we’re honest would’ve been fortunate to say the least. So, even though we’ve been overrun in midfield and already conceded a goal because both of our central midfielders were too far forward after 3 minutes, we’ve somehow managed to go in on level terms.
No changes were made at half time, either to personnel or system and unsurprisingly Everton continued to create the better chances. Then Bale got injured which when you look at our bench and you see Niko as his obvious replacement that’s one injury we don’t want. In fact if you look closely at the replays of Bales substitution you can see Coleman in the distance licking his lips in anticipation of a foot race with a player slower than David Beckham. Again within a few minutes it was obvious we needed to change something on the left but we did nothing.
Then 2-1 down and needing a goal came one of the strangest substitutions I’ve ever seen. I’m no fan of Pav but he’s more likely to get a goal than Keane and why would you risk the possibility of injury when he’s so close to being sold for an amazing £7m?
I’m more than happy to say what a fantastic job Harry Redknapp has done at the club but against Everton he got it wrong. Who’s to say had he picked the right team or at least changed it when it wasn’t working anything would’ve been different. The players, who to a man had poor games could’ve been the same and Everton might’ve still won but at least we would’ve given it a go. The “we’ll score one more than you” philosophy is great to a certain extent. It’s why we’ve been entertained so much this season but when things aren’t going quite the way you want them to, we’ve got to learn how to make a change and one that will effect the game in a positive manner.
I started this off by trying not to be too negative and I really don’t mean to come across that way if I have. As I said, teams lose games and losing 1 in every 12 games I’ll take every season for as long as I live. We’re a team still learning, players still learning, a manager still learning and a set of fans who have been so spoilt in the last 18 months that we’re devastated when we lose an away game to a decent side.
The futures still bright and it’s always been lilywhite.
Submitted by THFC1882
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