Date: 9th December 2019 at 6:00pm
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As the fallout from the abysmal defeat at home to Leicester yesterday, questions have rightly been asked in the match thread (and elsewhere) as to the players’ form, appetite and ability, as well as the decision-making and tactics of the Head Coach.

This excellent post from forum member crimsondonkey addresses three key areas on which we ought to focus ahead of the January transfer window.

I’m absolutely loving the “If only we had…” revisionism that’s starting to creep in as the doom-mongers get some personal validation from our poor performance yesterday, fans leaving early, and our current league position.

“If only we had played two different defenders from the start…”

“If only we hadn’t signed Wesley…”

“If only we had signed better players in the summer…”

“If only we had signed a better manager than Smith…”

The problem is: we are where we are. It’s what we do from here that matters most. Sorry guys but there’s no ‘do-over’ for the decisions of the past now, so going on and on about them is neither constructive nor helpful.

There is plenty we can agree on though –

  • We concede way too many goals to win matches – this needs sorting!
  • Many of the players brought in are young/ inconsistent/ not good enough yet (or might not make it at all).
  • We are tragically light and toothless up front, and this problem is twofold: Wesley hasn’t performed/ is a dud; we haven’t got ready replacements in the squad.
  • Deano isn’t performing well in terms of team selection/ subs/ tactics and changing the game.

We have a run of games now which we have to see a much better points return from –

  • Sheff Utd away
  • Southampton home
  • Norwich home
  • Watford away
  • Burnley away

Really, we need 9 pts from those 5 games to steer us away from the relegation trapdoor.

And so it’s what we do with what we’ve got now is important. But its increasingly obvious that doing the same thing every week and expecting a different result is very likely not going to cut it.

These are the things I’m hoping to see from the players and coaching staff in the next month – we can’t bring any new players in during this period, so it’s down to this group alone to sort it.

1. More flexibility from Deano

He’s either got to drop Wesley or change the formation and overall approach to get more from him, either by playing someone off him or getting other forwards close to him – no pumping the ball up as its clear he can’t handle those kinds of balls.

Maybe 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 (not 4-4-2 as I just don’t think we have the players to dominate the middle). I think it’s now time for Dean to try something different.

2. Tighten things at the back

We can’t keep giving away easy goals, especially from set-pieces, and expect to get results from games. This team is not strong enough up front to outscore the opposition toe to toe. I think our players are good enough, but they are not organised and protected as a complete unit

3. Get the real John McGinn back

It’s noticeable that when we play well, SJM is bringing loads of energy and running to the play, and this allows Jack to stay further forward where he’s most effective. I don’t know whether it’s instructions, fatigue or injury but we need the SJM we know to affect games, as it’s very noticeable that when he doesn’t turn up, the team looks flat.

It goes without saying that in January – and the beginning, not the end, we need top-class, proven reinforcements up front. It’s time for our rich owners to go and spend whatever it takes to keep us in this division.

If we don’t then I’m afraid that the pessimists will be proven right and we will take another drop to the Championship and we will have missed a terrific opportunity to re-establish the club in the top flight.

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