Date: 31st August 2009 at 4:25pm
Written by:

avfc48 on the start to the season:

3 wins on the trot, top 4 beckons.

No?

Well if you watched it maybe not. Its accepted policy that when you are in the shit, you pick your best and most experienced players and resort to a defensive system

Well despite many fans crying out for a one up front system for some 12 months O’Neill kept to his own and we went a few games with even fewer wins. Fear of another slaughter at Anfield caused him to revert with one up front and it worked. Now I’ve watched the game 4 times, being the glutton for punishment I am and I still cannot believe we got away with it, but we did. Every player did their bit, obviously motivated by a game at Liverpool, perhaps with the booing at VP still fresh in their minds.

Davies and Cuellar who had played together only a few times and looked awful, were superb. Sidwell, and especially Coker were outstanding but all, Beye and Shorey included were remarkable Friedel, outstanding.

Against Vienna he reverted somewhat and it did not pay off, too many gaps between defence and midfield and midfield and forwards. He reverted again against Fulham a team renowned for their defensive tactics away from home and got lucky again. A superb corner from Young, met by Cuellar forced the Fulham defender trying to catch Gabby to deflect it into his net. Bit like the first goal at Liverpool. Then we sat back and expected Fulham to come on. We waited and waited but with no Murphy, and no first choice strikers poor Brad had a picnic in his goal mouth.

We created little, most ‘attacks’ coming from deep high balls, although of course we don’t play long ball football, oh no, not us, which as a tactic against one of the tallest and best defenders in the PL seemed a little daft, especially with Carew and Heskey on the bench. It was boring, defensive football can be when played at home, especially when the opposition did sweet fa to change it, but effective we were certainly on top.

Then Gabby in one of his forays to get the ball got the ball, controlled it, ran with it and an ex Villan Hughes backed off probably because he knows Gabby tends to run out of ideas if he has to think about what to do.

No one became excited then Gabby on his weak foot, his left, shot and what a shot. 2-0, fully deserved, but we were awful. Clarke supported superbly by Cuellar and Beye, he can head a ball, did what was needed. He did go to ground a couple of times in the wrong places but we got away with it against a team with strikers maybe he won’t be the England CB some think, I don’t know, neither does anyone else.

Shorey I thought had a superb game, some of his passes to Young and Milner were outstanding, but again, Fulham were so compacted in the middle of the park he was rarely called upon to defend.

Petrov didn’t look the business but did enough, Coker was superb, until he tired, obviously under instructions to run himself out, and Shorey did his bit. Milner worked hard but why all those high balls, managers instructions. He can do better, he did do better, one cross ball pass to Young would have made Barry weep (he’s getting rave reviews at Man City you may have noticed), so why so many lame high balls, not once did he make the byline and cross, not once did he try to run on and shoot, sorry once he did.

For now the result counts, when we were so far ahead of most of the other teams last season, the more wins we get especially at places like Liverpool the better, because of course we usually collapse later in the season.

Luckily the forthcoming fixtures, now we are out of Europe are too bad until Chelsea, so there is plenty of scope to gather more points. The players looked unready for the season, the booing has woken the manager up allied to the swing in the media against him.