Martin’s Musings from SAFC 2 WBA 4: ‘unlucky Simon Mignolet’

Back to the drawing board?

There were those of us who thought we may have turned a corner at Craven Cottage, but today that corner only took us into a cul de sac. To me – Malcolm Dawson – it seemed as if nothing much had changed from previous home games and the first half was another dose of “Groundhog Day”. The midfield was static, the team lacked purpose going sideways rather than forwards and it was only after we were two – nil behind that we showed any attacking threat. Was it a penalty? I’ll watch the replays tonight but it was certainly a needless one (M Salut, watching on TV, saw in Liam Ridgewell an accomplished diver at work). Those around me were less than happy but the manager remains upbeat.


Dear Colin,

We gave some crazy goals away today but there was a big fightback from us in the second half.
For the second goal, Simon [Mignolet], who has been faultless for us all season, was very unlucky and from there we had an uphill task. 

We were trying to force the issue for most of the game and that left gaps at the back, which West Bromwich Albion were always going to try and exploit. 

The fourth goal came because we had everybody piled in their half looking for the equaliser. 

There were some unlucky instances in the game. Things like that are going to happen throughout the course of the season, but they do tend to even out. 

Jake has cause for gloom

We reacted strongly in the second half. We put absolutely and utterly everything into the game and almost forced a third goal just before they scored. For them to be awarded a penalty when we had the impetus didn’t help. At 77 minutes we were still in it and it did knock us back. But we came back again, we showed some spirit and fight and now Tuesday night is a big game.

They’re all difficult fixtures, there’s no easy game. After having our confidence restored on the back of our recent performances I thought we might have been able to get the win today. That confidence did show, but we were hit with those goals at a crucial time. 

We’ll be ready to go again on Tuesday. 

All the best,

Beware of forgeries
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24 thoughts on “Martin’s Musings from SAFC 2 WBA 4: ‘unlucky Simon Mignolet’”

  1. Tuesday night will now be a key game for SAFC. If MON sticks to his tried and tested formula and we win then it will keep the critics ( and on his current record they have a point) at bay until the next winnable game.

    If we lose then things are going to get very hot for MON and if the rumours regarding his personal life are founded then it may be a loss is too much for him.

    If he changes things and we win then nothing changes and the emphasis shifts to the next winnable game, discounting the big boys. If we lose then things get hot for MON.

    Football is fickle, a winning run of three games would do much to repair the damage, if not exactly removing the cause. Additionally the table is still very tight and six points would push you up to upper half.But I share Jeremy’s and Plan ‘B’s unease regarding the unwillingness of MON to change things and this echoes previous comment from Villa fans.

  2. Di Matteo just missed out on getting MK Dons up in his first year. Took WBA up at the first attempt and was sacked. He took over a team that was stinking the place out and won the FA Cup and Champions League as a caretaker boss. He had an admirable record. This is not the time to change the manager but the manager needs to make things happen and soon. His record is frankly bloody abysmal. 1 win in 20. That would have even got Sbragia the unsackable the axe under Quinn.

    If things don’t improve soon then we will be looking for a new manager. It makes me laugh when people talk about continuity as if managers who were doing a good job get the chop. With the notable exception of Chelsea, this doesn’t tend to be the case. Chairmen get jumpy when the team is bad and they rarely win. If O’Neill got his cards in the morning he could hardly complain, given his record.\

    Nobody is calling for his head; not yet at any rate but were it anyone other than him the situation would be very different. Some points on the board rather than reliance on goodwill would be welcome. That has to start on Tuesday night.

    Liverpool didn’t sack Hodgson or Dalglish because they were doing well. Quite the opposite. Rodgers isn’t good enough and he will be going the same way soon enough.

  3. We need to get behind MON. He’s a good manager with a good record. And who else is out there who could do a better job. Only Harry Redknapp and we’re facing him on Tuesday.
    No-ones going to touch Hughes with a bargepole and R.Di Matteo, I don’t think so. He has worked well with world class players but unproven with lower quality teams.

    We just can’t change horses all the time. Look at Liverpool fans – they’re sick of the changes. Bringing a new manager in and splashing money around does not guarantee success. (unless its big-big money of course — which we don’t have.)

  4. I don’t think that any one of these players who are doing poorly at present is doing so intentionally or as a result of lack of effort. Booing isn’t going to get them playing any better, but the frustration of the supporters is understandable.

    It wouldn’t take a lot to lift the fans. All it takes is someone to run with some purpose at the defence early on and make it clear we mean business on Tuesday night. Get the fans behind the team. The team need to do something to lift the fans as there’s been very little to get worked up about for a while.

  5. I posted this on the other stream but more seem to be reading this and I am looking for some support on Tuesday.
    The thing that worries me most following Saturday is the number of idiots who think that booing the team and, in particular Adam Johnson, will improve their performance. Either that or that their right to express their opinion is more important than everyone else’s right to enjoy their team trying hard and earning points. Johnson had a good game at Fulham and went a long way to winning that game. He also started Saturday brightly but 1 mistake in giving the ball away and everyone was on his back. If the keeper had saved the shot, as he really should have done, then Johnson’s error would not have mattered, yet immediately idiots are booing him. Mignolet has been great this season but how many sides in the league are going to come back from the keeper giving 2 away. The fact that we very nearly did and were basically a dodgy penalty or a close offside from a great recovery should, at least in hindsight, be positive. If sections of the crowd start the game on Johnson’s back then we are stuffed. Booing players during a game is a self-fulfilling activity and I, for one, want nothing to do with fans that do it. We all need to stop it at source by shouting down the idiots, starting on Tuesday.

  6. I’m in agreement with all of the comments above. What concerns me is the lack of will (even in a struggling team) to shake things up a bit. Apart from removing McClean from the starting line up (several months too late in my view), he doesn’t seem to want to make any more changes to the starting line up or on the bench either, for that matter.

    The finest definition of stupidity I ever heard was to keep on doing the same things time after time and then sit wondering why the outcome remains the same. That is what we have here.

    McClean was persisted with regardless of his form, and yet David Vaughan (by far the most creative player we have) is left out after his hernia operation. Colback is a tidy enough player but makes Butch Wilkins look like Johnny Giles. If he can go backwards, then backwards it goes. The only time he will move the ball forward is when he can’t pass it behind him. We are in dire straits, that’s for sure. If he hasn’t got the personnel to make the needed changes then O’Neill has to carry the can for this. Why has he signed McFadden on a short term contract is he isn’t ready to play? If he isn’t fit to play then why is he on the bench?

    There are a lot of questions about O’Neill for me right now. I suspect that there is certainly some truth in the rumour. I think he may walk on Tuesday night if we get beat. Who would replace him? I would have liked Di Matteo to have gotten the job after he was sacked by WBA. His stock must have risen considerably after his unappreciated exploits at Chelsea. Martinez possibly?

  7. Mark Hughes is available…

    (That’s a JOKE!! Not a very good one but a joke nonetheless)

    Maybe if MON has been to Short to offer his resignation, that’s a good thing — in that it might show Short that he’s serious about not being able to do much more with the team as it stands and needs, reluctantly or not, to do some judicious buying in January. And some equally judicious selling; one can at least partly offset the other. Unless Short has no grasp whatsoever on reality — and I doubt if that’s true — he must see the logic of this. He has a responsibility as owner either to bolster his investment or see it lose status and value. I’d prefer it if he saw this as more than a simple, cold-hearted business decision but if that’s what it takes, so be it.

    • Personally I don’t think it is all down to the personnel. We have a much better squad than twelve months ago. I don’t see a mass purchase of players as the whole answer, though I don’t dispute the squad could be improved.

      To my eyes it is the lack of creativity and desire to create meaningful attacking options that is at the root of our current malaise. The whole team is static, there is little or no off the ball movement and for players like Colback safety first means that short passes go square or back. He isn’t looking for the defence splitting pass.

      Likewise, the whole team seems to either look to play in tight triangles or just to hoof long range. This is a coaching point and to my layman’s eyes this is the problem. Possession at all costs then when all else fails try route one. It is only when we fall behind that there is any sense of urgency or desire to create space and get in front of goal.

      I am still pro O’Neill but Arsenal and Villa fans earlier this season highlighted on this site, what they saw as his limitations. Maybe they had a point. Maybe O’Neill should be looking to improve his coaching staff as well as his playing staff and maybe he could look at alternative ways of setting up his team at the start of the game.

  8. There is little doubt there are serious issues with this team but I still believe that MON is the man to turn this around.

    I also agree with Pete that there is no smoke without fire and the rumours of unrest may have some foundation.

    What is concerning is that there is nobody who I believe is better than MON currently available for managerial duties so should MON resign then who would be the main candidates ?

  9. We invested heavily in two players in the summer. Some of the other boards represent views that Johnson is improving. Not for me. I agree with Stuart’s comments above. We are stuck with the players that Bruce lumbered us with. MON was lucky to have McClean to unleash on unsuspecting defenders last season. It worked for half a season, until the unsuspecting defenders realised how easy it was to nuetralise him. Take McClean out of that equation and we would have had more of the same that we endured under Bruce; the same torment we are suffering from now.

    We were unfortunate on several fronts today. WBA are on a run, galvanised by Steve Clarke’s insistence that his players go to ground easily and put pressure on opposing defenders by getting them booked. The imbecilic Mike Dean helps their cause unfortunately by giving them everything they put their hands up for.

    At this point I’m not sure whether the real problem is the absence of a creative midfielder or the lack of imagination from the manager. Maybe the former impacts on the latter. MON is on record as saying that he doesn’t like signing players in January. He needs to get to like it. He should have acted last January and was painfully slow in the summer. Mr Short does need to ensure there are funds available as the signings of Cuellar, McFadden and Saha suggests that the coffers are empty after splashing the cash on Fletcher and Johnson.

    • Agree whole heartedly with you on this one Jeremy.

      One three things that I would add would be

      1)that signings in January are crucial, but they have to be the right signings. We need to try to discover someone to make the midfield tick, a player that can up the tempo, bring others in to play, that sort of thing. These types are a bit thin on the ground in England so we need to look to europe for a hungry new comer, eager to make a name etc;

      2) We need to try something diffrent in our standard of play between now and January, because presently its not working;

      3) without the cash available 1 becomes irrelevant and 2 becomes our only course of action because replacing MON is not an option.

      Right now I would settle for the midd table safety zone at season closure with the hint of things looking good for the following season. We have to instill in the current squad a can do win mentality and start asking a lot more of the players, too many are sitting in their own comfort zone, more questions require to be asked and lets the the response between now and January.

      • I agree wholeheartedly with point 1 CSB but I just don’t see O’Neill doing it. He has his way, and that isn’t it. We’d all love him to do what you’ve suggested, the question is will he? Let’s not ignore the fact that he’s been very slow in the market so far and chose to only sign the 4 players, which makes you think he must have been happy with it.

      • Well if doesn’t do it then he and we are in trouble it’s as simple as that.

        There has to be more attcking intent, Colback et al needs to get the ball forward/ carry it forward, start trying to open things up, I actally think he is capable of this but we do not know what the team orders are.

        MON must by now have a very good understanding of the teams mentality and ability. Come January, money willing, he needs to get the key ingredients ?(striker, creative midfileder). This is even more paramount with the loss of Cattermole.

        Inaction in the transfer market in January is not an optiion, unless relegation is the goal.

  10. Martin needs Mr Short to back him in the transfer window. Woefully short of attacking quality. I hope we kept the receipt for Johnson, I want us to get a full refund! Larsson did well today I thought. Other than that, we had nothing in attack and our midfield can be best described as “gritty”.

    Time for a clear out of Bruce’s dead wood, as long as they remain at SAFC we are going nowhere. Short needs back MON in the transfer window or sack him, because whatever MON is doing at the moment isn’t working.

    I hope MON is writing his list to Santa as we speak…..

    • Can’t disagree with any of this. I have seen no signs that this squad have either the quality or the ” bottle ” to turn things round. Even 2 or 3 loans in January might help, as long as they are leaders on the pitch.

  11. I don’t, no, I can’t, believe these rumours are true, O’Neill can pull us out of this slump and I’m sure he wants to see the job through. Keep the faith children, a thumping win against old ‘arry’s QPR and you’ll wonder why you ever doubted Martin.

  12. Espn have rubbished reports of MON going but they have said E short is here to have meeting to discuss the position we are in the table well mr short ime no Einstein but we are 3 points above relagation the same place we were in a year ago he turned us around then so he can do it again you will have to dig in your pockets again to buy another centre forward to help Fletcher and 2 midfielders to make things happen keep the faith …

  13. Difficult days. If he does go (and Talksport were citing “continuing family problems”) where on earth do we go from here?
    Rumours often turn out to have a glimmer of truth about them.

  14. I saw at least two positives today. Firstly they are not switching on the sprinklers before kick off and at half time any more and they have got on top of the litter problem and there were no carrier bags swirling about to take my mind off the game.

    Apart from that ?

    I agree it’s far too soon to think of replacing O’Neill but why do we have to go two down before we attack with any purpose?

  15. Just been listing to talk sport and breaking news MON has offered his resignation can’t believe my ears if he goes those muppets at the stadium of light the players I am talking about want to hold there heads in shame I am absolutely gutted there is only one place we will go if he goes and that’s DOWN .

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