Three things we learned from the strange, scrappy draw against Preston North End last night.
1) No need to panic. Yet
Yes, it was a disappointing game. Or at least a very disappointing first half. We did improve second half and nearly snatched the victory at the death. Lesson though? Err… well, I`m not panicking yet. We are on one defeat in 9 games if my maths are correct! The game last night, disappointing though it was, would have been the sort of match we`d have lost over the last four or five seasons and we`d have seen heads drop all over the pitch.
It`s a very occasional thing when I can say I`ve been right about anything. However on the 442 point I was right. Without the playmakers Adomah and Jack Grealish, unless Onomah or Hourihane were able to step up to the plate (see the next point because they weren`t), it seemed obvious to me that Hogan would need a player to be up front with him, someone to feed off and to work with. So it proved because in the second half, once Bruce caught up with my, ahem, expertise, I thought we looked much better and Hogan was able to stop running around like a headless chicken (NOT a criticism of Hogan that, it was ridiculous how he was having to chase shadows throughout the first half).
Lets do the basics well if we don`t have the players to dazzle. The loss of Adomah, Grealish and then non availability of an obvious replacement in Andre Green meant we needed to adapt. It would have been great to have done that from the start. At least Bruce did go for it in the second half, with Hogan, Grabban and Davis on.
3) Step up to the plate.
It seems to me that some players just aren`t able or willing to step up to the plate. I`m not – I don`t think I am anyway – a great one for slating players. However, Hourihane blows very hot and cold and Onomah hardly blows at all for me. They need to sit down and have a long thing as to why they aren`t bringing more to the party. Hourihane, there is a good player in him and when he`s up to it and up for it, he`s good at going forward. A game last night though, he just gets lost. And our loan signing? I know I`m not alone (and I am really conscious of not looking for a scapegoat, there were a few poor last night and even John Terry made some pretty basic mistakes) but for Onomah, I`ve seen little to nothing from day one so why is he getting so much time on the pitch? Bruce was trying to gee him up last night but he didn`t seem to want to be geed (is that even a word?)
Wouldn`t Lansbury be a better option? Give him license to get forward, tell him to shoot on sight and also warn him, he`s got to do exactly what this point is all about, step up to the plate OR ELSE.
And O`Hare? I am not sure if he is coming back from injury hence a game early this week for the U23`s. If so, fair enough. If not, how is it better to play an on loan Spud than one of our own? O`Hare might sink, he might swim, I don`t know. What I do know though, is he will give 100% when on the pitch and will look bothered.
And there my Vital Villa friends, is my humble on what we learned v PNE. I also learned that the fans can only sing v the Blues and that saddens me. When we scored, the place improved. Before that, the atmosphere was dead. Who knows what another good shouting, loud, supportive atmosphere could have done for our performance?
Three things we learned the draw against Preston North End
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