About the last thing to be expected from
Pete Sixsmithafter yesterday’s lamentable defensive display at Man City was the see-it-both-ways equanimity of his own chosen headline. Mark Hughes was sacked for a run markedly better than ours. Pete keeps the faith up to a point. He reckons on seven points from the next three games being pretty much non-negotiable if the slump isn’t to become a crisis. Where have we heard that before? …
The feeling on the coach home from the City of Manchester Stadium last night was certainly the former: a full scale, 3D, Todd AO, Cinemascope, horror show, redolent of Hammer Films in all its gory, bloody detail.
As we ploughed through heavy snow in North Yorkshire and lethal roads in the vicinity of Ferryhill, one or two began to voice the opinion that at least we looked better going forward and the problems at the back were not insurmountable. I wonder.
Let’s go down the horror show road first. I have to say that I have rarely seen a display of such ineptitude as shown by Nyron in the first half. I assume that he was selected above Bardsley because he is quick and he would be able to keep up with Bellamy. Unfortunately, you can’t keep up with a winger if you are two yards in front of him, or if you are pulled into the middle. If you do that, you are responsible for giving away goals. Nyron was responsible for three of them. The penalty was a soft one, but home teams get them and we should be asking where was our full back when Bellamy got the ball?
If Nozza is to see his contract out, use him as a mentor for players coming up from the Youth team or for players joining the club. Make him Reserve team captain, give him an office at the Academy, but for goodness sake, don’t let him near the Premier League ever again.
McCartney was little better, being bamboozled by Wright-Phillips for the third goal. His distribution is woeful and his tackling and positional sense questionable, even at the best of times. He is a mere shadow of the player he was first time here, and it seems amazing that he was voted player of the year by West Ham fans a couple of years ago, above the likes of Tevez and Parker.
Two full backs is now a priority, as Bruce clearly does not rate Bardsley, although he would have at least clattered the obnoxious little troll known as Bellamy. Nyron never got close enough to extract revenge on the odious little Welshman for all the goals he has scored against us over the years.
The Boys On The Sofa were waxing lyrical about what a great game it was. It wasn’t. Citeh’s defending was even more comical than ours at times. Toure and Onouha were abysmal and contributed to our three goals by being unable to mark anyone or clear a ball effectively. But Citeh do have pace and Bellamy must have though all his birthdays had come at once when he realised that Nyron had all the positional sense of a traffic cone.
So, a dismal performance. In places yes, but there were some straws of comfort to grab hold of.
Mensah had a decent game alongside Turner and they did well amidst the wreckage down the flanks. This has to be our best defensive pairing, although the very harsh, done by the book, red card Mr. Marriner gave to Turner will mean further reorganisation in those positions. I can’t see him changing his mind. Turner caught Barry with his elbow; it’s a red card, although more sensible refs than Marriner (and there must be at least 10,000 out there), might have left it at a reprimand.
Cattermole did well on his return and, although understandably tired at the end, pushed us forward whenever he could. His presence allowed Henderson to get forward as well and he was rewarded with a fine goal and another decent performance. It’s good to see a player of his quality and aptitude emerging from the Academy. Let’s have a few more, please.
At time of writing, we are still in tenth place (although this could change depending on Sunday and Monday’s games) and I would happily settle for that in May. However, the recent slip in form is teetering on the edge of a slump; 1 point out of the last 15, five points out of the last 30, 1 point from the last eight away games. Last season we hit a bad patch from March to May; hopefully, October to December is this seasons equivalent, with a revival in the New Year. Our next three League games are very, very important; seven points is the minimum requirement if we are to arrest the slide and not get into a relegation tussle.
On a more upbeat note, we found a new venue for pre match drinkies, Uppermill, the principal town in the Saddleworth district. The landlord of The Wagon opened early and plied us with his excellent Robinsons beers. Sobs even managed a half of the ferocious Old Tom and, as a result, slept all the way home.
Aficionados of the film Brassed Off (of which our esteemed proprietor is one) will know Uppermill and its surrounding villages as the venue for the Brass Band contest where the Grimley Band drink more beer and hit more bum notes, culminating in Stephen Tomkinson’s trombone falling apart. It’s a lovely part of the Pennines, now in Greater Manchester, but still claiming loyalty to Yorkshire. I can heartily recommend the Robinsons Unicorn and Dissy Blonde in The Wagon, and the Meat and Potato Pie, Mushy Peas and Red Cabbage in the Riverside Café.
And finally, I hope that all reading this enjoy their Christmas, however they celebrate it, and that 2010 is a good year for them. Football wise I will be pleased to see the back of 2009!!