Back to the Drawing Board
Forbidden to do anything because of the operation, I have moped around the house for the past nine days, existing on a diet of novels, rock CDs and crosswords. I cannot ride my bike, drive the car or go to work. Hey! My wife even refuses to allow me to go shopping or visiting DIY stores or garden centres with her. I am in a bad way.
I haven`t had a WW game to occupy my thoughts either and, judging from the lack of activity on the site, other members have been feeling equally bored. Even so, to show that every cloud has a silver lining, I have been allowed to view a lot of T.V. footie.
As a result, I watched the internationals, which gave me another opportunity to assess the form of some of our players. Of our ROI representatives, Doyle performed the best, if as an advanced midfielder rather than as a striker. Of course, had Keane passed to him instead of shooting wide in the second Estonian match, he would have scored. Nice to see Ward get a goal but, like Hunt, he was inconsistent.
As a Welshman, I enjoyed Wales`s match against Norway ... but it did have its bizarre moments, though perhaps we should now get used to WH making uncustomary slips! It`s worrying. Even stranger, was the form of Vokes, who scored two great goals.
Having finally discovered the location of the opposition`s net, his form would have created an even greater headache for MM today, had the manager not ducked the issue by loaning him out to Burnley. Now, Mick only had to decide on the formation: 4-4-1-1 with Doyle or Fletcher upfront (a dilemma in itself) or 4-5-1 with Doyle and Fletcher as dual strikers. He chose the former, which I agreed with at the time. I have more doubts now.
I have to be particularly careful what I write this week. I am not worried about annoying MM or other fans with my honestly expressed views but rather I have to avoid antagonising my wife, who is typing this report (Wife: he`s done that. I was happily shopping online for clothes at the time). I have found out to my cost that I cannot type more than a few lines on the keyboard before my shoulders seize up.
Then I almost blew it. My suggestion that I could dictate notes to her while we watched the match, was met with a snort of derision and the threat to withhold the car-keys from me on my projected return to Molineux on 3 December (she`s hidden them, along with the keys to the bike-shed).
This report is therefore largely based upon my memory of the match, which unfortunately has not seriously taxed my recall faculties. Simply put, Everton deserved to win because they controlled the midfield, turned us at will on our right flank and pumped loads of crosses into our box. WW, on the other hand, made errors in defence, gave away the ball in midfield and dithered in front of goal.
If WH had not been on top form, we would have shipped a few more goals. Berra also saved a certain score when he sprinted across the box and executed a perfectly timed tackle. He actually played one of his best games for us and was far more solid than RJ. Indeed, Johnson had to resort to pushing, a fault which led to Everton`s equalizing goal.
Ward, on the other hand, continues to impress at LB, while showing his versatility by playing equally as well at RB (and as an overlapping winger). The move, prompted by Stearman`s injury, led to George`s appearance of the pitch. Had MM not heeded my warning made in a previous post that he should never play George at full back again? To prove my point, his winger immediately turned him with ease. Everton would have scored had Ward not flung his body in the way. George also gave away the penalty (though it has had Berra`s name on it for weeks).
Whereas the return of Foley and Zubar will ease our problem at right back, we desperately need cover for Ward at LB, another CD and an enforcer in midfield. Henry has improved over the past few games but he still makes mistakes. His passing is poor and he gets caught on the ball.
There`s too much sloppy play elsewhere in midfield as well. JOH was not as effective as he had been against Wigan, whether as a playmaker or as an offensive force. Milijas did not impose himself on the game either. Edwards was full of honest endeavour but lacked sharpness in the box ... that is, except for his reaction to the brush from Felliani. Hunt buzzed around but to no great effect. Jarvis, with something to prove, only once tried to round his man.
Upfront, Doyle ran gamely but never had a chance to score. When Fletcher came on it was too late. We have to improve our service to our front runners. On this showing we cannot provide adequate crosses from out wide or thread balls through the middle. After the Wigan match I had hoped for a better cutting edge but all it did was prove the existence of an even worse team than us in the PL.
Fortunately, results elsewhere went our way (thank you, WBA) but we have a tough time ahead. It`s not that our lads cannot play well enough, it`s just that they lack consistency. They are still too prone to error: they tend to dither on the ball, are often incapable of effective movement off it and regularly make wild passes. They`ll have to take another dose of the back to basics medicine that they admitted they needed last year. Where`s the progress?