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Beaten but Unbowed: Part 2

Beaten but Unbowed: Part 2

Well, we lost but in the cruellest manner possible. WH, who had kept us in the game in the first half, gifted MC a goal with a momentary lapse in concentration. Then, he failed to hold on to a shot and Kolarov tapped it in. If it`s any consolation to Wayne, Hart did the same thing, which indirectly led to our penalty and goal.

I was looking forward to MM`s team selection with interest, given the advice he had been given over the past few days by bloggers on the various sites. My first reaction was: where was Milijas? Possibly, MM did not want him injured for the vital game against Wigan next week or he did not think he would put in a sufficient tackling shift. Probably the latter.

As expected though, we lined up in a 4-5-1 formation with JOH slotting in behind Doyle. It`s his favoured position but it didn`t make it any easier to score goals. No-one even shot on-target in the first half, with too many balls being fired over the bar from a distance, a feature of our game that continued through the second half. I`m all for having a go but be sensible ... and keep the ball down.

The second half continued in the same fashion with MC doing most of the pressing and looking far more dangerous as they homed in on our goal. As in the first half, their passing and running were superb and they engineered numerous chances. Thankfully, their shooting was wayward and we survived.

Our defence proved more obdurate too, a welcome improvement on last Saturday`s showing. Johnson had his best game for ages and Berra played alright. Ward, as ever, was outstanding. Indeed, his over-lapping runs down the wing gave us one of our best attacking options. With Zubar running down the other flank we won`t need proper wingers (apart from the feisty Hunt) ... and we seem to play better without them at the moment. But, I`ve read that Zubes wants to play at CB and that could be a solution to a problem.

The midfield kept a tighter rein on their counterparts too, pressing them throughout the game. Henry was more solid, though he still gives the ball away with his sloppy passing. At last, Guedioura was selected for the first eleven. In the game, he buzzed around as energetically as ever, sometimes to good effect and sometimes not. He, along with JOH, were the worst culprits in the misdirected, speculative shots from a distance stakes (though it was his shot that led to our goal). Even so, it`s nice to see someone actually try to make something happen, even if he is sometimes rash, falls over his feet and gives the ball away. He recovers well though. .

Upfront, Doyle was his usual industrious self without looking likely to score a goal for most of the game. But, no-one did, until a rebound off Hart fell to Doyle, who was fouled by Kompany as he prepared to tap the ball in. Hunt coolly slotted home the penalty. Now, MC were on the back foot, as WW came sweeping forward. It seemed like a replay of last year`s match. Pity about Johnson`s goal at the end, as it denied us a grandstand final couple of minutes.

So, what did this game prove? It showed that we can raise our game when required , even if we had to rely on some uncharacteristically poor finishing by MC and the brilliance of WH in the first half. The problem is: we`ve been here before. If we can contain a team like MC for much of the game, why can`t we play with the same level of commitment, drive and energy against the Wigans of the PL. Perhaps, we will next week ... we jolly well have to. And, today`s game should give the lads a confidence boost ... just as long as it does not degenerate into complacency.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Saturday October 29 2011
Time: 5:59PM


Was highly impressed with your display on Wednesday when you played some decent football, but I'm afraid i won't be singing your praises after this one. Falling to the ground at every opportunity, kicking lumps out of Silva, climbing over our strikers and time-wasting. Who do you think you are, Everton?
29/10/2011 19:42:00
I wasn't much surprised by the selection of Edwards and was hopeful that AG would start.I didn't think this was a game for Ned,as much as I admire the things that he alone in the squad can do-amongst which is the ability to shoot accurately from distance.As SB mentioned in his report, the frequency of long range shots from AG and JOH, was only matched by the wildness of the attempts.It was one of the few on target, of course, that led to our goal, showing the importance of 'giving the keeper something to do'.I think the consensus on here was that we'd rather Hunt than Jarvis, on current form, so at least MM showed his willingness to pick a team specifically for the task in hand, as well as picking form over longevity.By why of explaining our awful form of late, MM fell back on that three year old mantra of 'we're not playing badly (we were), as long as we cut out the silly mistakes...'. The team, collectively and individually were playing poorly, not 'making mistakes'. How ironic then, that the excuse should be made good in such a spectacular way by WH,who had kept us in the game and was our man-of-the-match, up until the attempted dribble and maybe even after it.He spilled the initial shot for the second goal precisely where he'd have been told, since he was a schoolboy, not to.The thing is, I can accept genuine mistakes. WH can hold his head up, along with Ward, this season amongst plenty that can't.The third goal, though, was down to poor defending by Johnson. As soon as Balotelli turned him, I said 'goal'. RJ had got himself back in position by the time their Johnson scored, but was standing directly in WH's line of the shot.When things aren't going your way,eh Rog?Having that kind of play described as 'making mistakes', is what gets my back up. A back-pass to the keeper, that a striker gets to and scores from is a mistake. Being badly positioned to make a tackle and executing the tackle badly, is poor play. My opinion of RJ, so far, is that he's happy defending play in front of him but is ponderous and easily taken out of the game when he has to turn. We'll see.I thought AG was often poor in possession, although, in fairness to him, he is, along with Ned, Hammill and Edwards, a good few matches behind the others,due both to injury and non-selection, so hopefully they can get enough quality match time to bring them all up to speed.Wigan next then. I think we'll beat them,because I think we're better than them and with the rest of the big boys to play, it's a very valuable three points for us and more misery for them.I said to SB the other week that there was no need to panic, until we decide that there aren't three teams worse than us. I still don't think there's any need to panic...yet.
30/10/2011 11:50:00
A4D: you are taking over from me as the hatchet man. I agree with your assessment of RJ but thought that he did improve on previous performances. We badly need a CD with pace and mobiliy and at the moment only Zubar would fit the bill, leaving aside the potential recruits out there in january. If we go down the latter route- and I expect we will have to- it will be a great deal more costly than if we had made the deals in the summer ... or, to take a longer view, had signed Dann and Johnson when we initially negotiated with them.
30/10/2011 12:47:00
I wouldn't attempt to de-hatchet you,SB.I have, though, noticed your improved optimism since the LC match in the week.I thought we did ok yesterday, overall, against a not overly impressive City,it has to be said.It was a mistake that let them in for the first, but poor play for the other two.I think MM alluded to being not too impressed by RJ for the third. I may have misconstrued what he said but i'd much rather he acknowledge poor play and not throw the blanket excuse of 'making mistakes' over everything that goes wrong.Watched the match on a faultless sream of the Setanta coverage and raised a glass of smooth-pour to our panicky CEO as I did so. Cheers Jez...don't worry i've already pre-paid for the WA game.
30/10/2011 13:11:00
My typing not as faultless as the *stream*, I notice ;-)
30/10/2011 13:13:00
I would have accepted a 1-3 result against MC before the game but, as it unfolded, I began to raise my expectations. Numerous times I wrote down, 'Still 0-0'. It was therefore heart-breaking to see us go behind as a result of a moment's lapse of concentration. I don't think WH saw Silva coming, which doesn't say much about his peripheral vision. I was unhappy for him too because he had performed heroics in the first half. I hope it does not affect his confidence. It's a pity because I thought that the longer the score remaied at 0-0, the more our team would grow in confidence and redouble their efforts to keep MC out. At the same time MC would begin to fret and tense up, especially as the crowd would get on their backs. Their play would deteriorate and a sloppy bit of play would let us in for a 1-0 victory. Hey! it could have happened. Even so, what really counts is the outcome of next Sunday's match. I don't want to go under the knife a couple of days later with my last thoughts fixed on another desperate WW relegation battle.
30/10/2011 15:20:00
I'm not knocking your optimism,SB, far from it. I'm merely a witness to it.It's heartening to know that, even after all these years of knowing better than to, a fan can still muster optimistic feelings, away to the champions-elect, of all places. Fair play to you,SB. It does, however, in the absence of our New York correspondent, leave me as resident Dr Doom. I'm hopeful I can live up to the roll, either until you return to normal or NY swings by, at least.
30/10/2011 18:59:00
I am not that optimistic, A4D, because we've been here before. We can play the plucky losers to perfection and there are always positives to take from games against quality opposition such as MC. But, they are only positives if we can put them into practice against lesser teams. And that's where we come unstuck. Wigan did the double over us last year and, if we revert to the slipshod performances that the team has produced against QPR, NU, WBA and Swansea, they will do so again. It will be a dour struggle; they will park the bus on their goal-line and try to catch us on the counter with their pacy runners (why can't we do that?) Of course, their fans will be giving them a hard time, given that their losing sequence is worse than ours. Martinez will be taking some stick too: is he coping better than MM? We can- and should- win the game but it depends upon which WW side turns out. To give them a boost, in my report I chose to emphasize the positives in yesterday's game. But, next week is a different matter.
30/10/2011 20:11:00
Can't argue with a word of that,SB.Yesterday was always likely to pan out with Wolves, at best, filling the role of plucky loser.I don't rate Martinez, at all. I think we've a better team and manager, to be honest. We need to beat them, first and foremost, because we have some horrific sequences of games to get through.If memory serves, without checking, Dec and Jan could prove quite brutal.
30/10/2011 20:44:00
SB hope op goes well i know the feeling as for the game at least we showed abit more grit and determination if we can show same against Wigan we should win.
31/10/2011 10:21:00
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