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Pressing the Self-Destruct Button

This result disappoints me more than the outcome of any game this season. This was a game we could have - and should have - won, but we gifted the game to Aston Villa, thanks to an unnecessary foul by Berra in the box, a dreadful clearance by Jarvis and a moment of madness by Henry. And it`s dumped us into the relegation zone. Oh dear, I have just heard that Bolton have gone 1-0 up.

After the high of the Spurs game and the low of the FAC match against Birmingham City this was a crucial game for us. And we started poorly, conceding a penalty in the 11th. minute, which Bent converted. It seems as though Berra panicked after failing to control the ball and lunged at the attacker.

However, this reverse seemed to galvanize the team and we dominated the rest of the half, scoring two goals in the process. Leading the charge was Kightly, who was playing a blinder. With prompting from Frimpong, a massive presence in midfield, he ran Clarke ragged down the right flank. In the 21st. minute we scored. Frimpong drove forward before passing to Kightly, who turned inside and perfectly threaded the ball home past an AV player and beyond the reach of Given.

We could have gone ahead in the 27th. minute when Henry`s shot was blocked on the line by Albrighton. Two minutes later Edwards missed a sitter, merely heading Jarvis`s cross into the hands of the AV goalie. Fortunately, he atoned for his miss shortly afterwards, steering home a powerful header by Johnson from a corner.

At this point WW were tearing AV apart and, pessimist though I am, I thought we could go in at half-time two or three goals to the good. It wasn`t to be and AV came out and scored in the 52nd. minute. Jarvis picked up the ball near the WW corner flag but, instead of controlling it, he took a wild swing. It ballooned up in the air and Clarke, under it, headed the ball on to Keane, who hit it beyond WH`s outstretched hand. Perhaps Wayne could have stopped it but it was just one of those days.

Even worse was to follow a minute later. Frimpong, whose partnership with Henry, has transformed our midfield was hit in the face. Unlike most contacts between players this was genuine and after several minutes on the floor, he had to be stretchered off. Immediately, our team fell apart. It just goes to show how important to the team are key individuals. To add to our misery, Kightly was seeing very little of the ball.

If the strength in the tackle and the dynamic running of Frimpong suggested Guedioura as a replacement, we were to be disappointed: Milijas trotted onto the pitch. All impetus disappeared. Finally, in the 73rd. minute the red mist descended on Henry, who stamped on the prone Albrighton. The AV winger made a meal of the lightest of touches but there was only one outcome and off Henry had to go. Thank you very much Karl: that`s both our enforcers out for a few games.

We held on for ten minutes but were always struggling. Eventually Keane administered the killer blow, a screamer from 25 yards that went in off the crossbar. Who said he was over the top? Although the referee played eight minutes of extra time, we were never going to score and we were left with the bitter thought of what might have been.

So, what now? As a result of events on the pitch, our chances of survival have lengthened appreciably. While Kightly`s return to form will help us, the problem will be to get the ball out to him. And, we have been dangerously weakened in the inner midfield, an area in which shortcomings in the past have let us down. We are likely to concede a lot more goals in the upcoming matches. We can only hope that Frimpong`s injury is not as bad as it seems. He is vital to our survival. As for Henry`s action ... well, it was idiotic.

The defeat is also going to have an impact upon MM, who was coming under a lot of pressure as a result of the defeat on Wednesday. It upset a lot of people not only because we lost to an average Championship side but also because that`s what we looked like too. Somewhat unexpectedly, it caused a tidal wave of anti-MM sentiment, certainly on the websites. It was very reminiscent of the hostility the manager faced last October, which peaked during the course of the Swansea game. Incredibly, MM was able to play a 'Get out of Jail` card then and he survived.

This time round, he might not be so lucky. This surprises me, even as an MM doubter, because I had not reckoned on the strength of the reaction to the team`s poor performance in a competition which has become merely a side-show to the real business of PL survival. As I blogged after the match, I was philosophical about the outcome. While I would welcome a cup run, if only to extend DDV`s season (I bet he regrets his decision to ditch Swansea), it`s not at the top of my wish-list.

Incredibly, given the twisted order of priorities displayed by the board over the allocation of funds, they seem to be at one with me in this. MM fielded a side that looked weak at the back, fragile in midfield and toothless up-front. It was as if he wanted us to lose so that he could concentrate on the PL. In this respect, he had to win today to justify his policy ... and we lost. Never mind, about the two great goals and the exhilarating play for a quarter of the match. We lost and we are third from bottom, with a gap opening up above Blackburn, a point above us.

When combined with murmurings from the chairman about the unacceptability of our position, now made worse, MM might be in trouble. With further development of the ground being postponed, will money be made available to buy players, perhaps under a new manager. If the board has finally woken up to the precariousness of our position, perhaps they will open up the treasure chest, though they will have to oil it first. But do it quickly, there`s only ten days left.




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The Journalist

Writer: southbank60 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday January 21 2012

Time: 6:12PM

Your Comments

I thought what seemed to change the game was at half time,the change made by villa,Agbonlahor going off and Warnock coming on seemed to affect us and certainly Kightly and Jarvis were not as effective. It has happened a lot this year,us playing well and the opposing team making a tactical change and our coaching team not able to respond!. I really dont know what we can do,is it to late to change things?do we stay ' as is' and hope for the best?. Ten days of window open,too late surely to change managment team now?,I fear for us now, I really do. Can Merlin and Coco pull it off again?UTW.
Crete Wolf
I think it all depends on Frimpong's powers of recuperation. You're right about the importance of the tactical switch that AV made in the second half. Warnock did make the difference, though the loss of Agbonlahor weakened AV. He had the beating of Foley.
Southbank60
Im sorry but for Frimpong geting hurt we fell apart it is just unaceptable by MM or any one else. A according to MM these arePL players( not ) we were leading 2-1 at half time but as per normal can not keep clean sheet get beat 3-2 as i said in thread before trying to sign mancinnie from Hamburg and hes better than what we have sorry what a joke.
kiawolves
This must be it. this surely must be it for the thick skulled muppet... Alex forced into a defensive sub and STILL OUT-THINKS the muppet... Then there's the Frimpong Factor -on loan - he is clearly the spice we need... the lack of creative talent in midfield never ever made more clear. Mick Mcarthy, you have no intelligence, no tactical nous and you are tacking us down THIS YEAR. Please ***** OFF
AdMant
Warnock helped but I still felt we had another goal in us until Frimpong went off. That kid was every bit the arsenal player we expected today. He has tweeted that he's ok but has a badly swollen eye.Henry is a tit but will still be missed until JOHN comes back. Let's face it....Milijas is too slow and ade too inconsistent. The bright side today was Kightly, what a difference that guy made. Apart from the first 10 minutes he hammered the Villa with the help of PingPong. I have to say that it was probably the most balanced team we have played for a long time. I heard a s2 strong rumours today.........1 that MM had to win or else and 2 that Mancienne was back. Mancienne is by no means the answer to our problems and shows a real lack of ambition. Reference the first........who knows the answer.......STICK or TWIST. Either way, it's not looking good for premier league survival this season.
Rustmonkey
*JOH ......not John. Frigging predictive text
Rustmonkey
I don't want Mancienne back either but he is OK as an inner midfielder. As a FB or a CD he is useless.
Southbank60
I hope you are right Rustmonkey, and not about mancienne...
AdMant
Enough is enough. Bottom three. Pathetic. Good report Banks. The Organ can take Bubbles with him. Needs a major shake up cos since such promise a couple of years ago for this club, it has gone, for lack of better, proper tits up.
New York City Wolf
Bolton have beaten Liverpool just to make things worse,only Wigan below us now.
Crete Wolf
With regards to the game,I agree with all the above. Warnock and Frimpong were the changes that changed the match...with not just a little help from KH.It was the look on his face to the ref afterwards, as if to say 'It's ok ref, I can do that'.To do that across MM, is a complete betrayal of loyalties and hopefully will be regarded by MM in exactly the same way as if it had been, for example, Hammill.If we had ended up losing Frimpong for matches, then we'd be almost certainly doomed. I'd rather lose KH for three, let's put it that way.There's still virtually nowt being fed to Fletch on the ground and even less of any quality. It seems another window will close without the club's coffers being troubled too much, which means the return of JOH is crucial to any survival hopes, I feel. The last two league performances have been a vast improvement in terms of balance in the team, with Frimpong and Kightly head and shoulders above others in the squad who've been given their chances before them. I know we've been over this ground before and we can only speculate BUT I hold Morgan responsible for the lack of transfer activity, which has hamstrung MM's ability (or would have exposed his inability to) progress the team.With the now commonplace use of gagging orders,we'll probably never know. One thing we'll definitely never know is how this season would have gone had the owner given his manager funds to pick two more players, whose pay demands fitted the club's policy.
all4divisions
We've stumbled on the formula for success and if Frimpong recovers quickly so can our fortunes. However, in the long term we are going to have to secure own own Frimpong. Now this is the question that I want to ask: how far are such players exceptional and super-talented or can decent players be coached to perform in the same way. Could Guedioura be turned into our own Frimpong. The point I am making is the balance (in educational terms: I was a teacher) between 'nature' and 'nurture'. Some coaches seem to be able to bring on their players while our team cannot. Why can the managers at Swansea and Norwich perform wonders with squads that are no better than ours?
Southbank60
SB-Morgan had the options open to him in the summer to either back or sack his manager.He chose, in effect, to do neither.As for the formations previously tried in comparison to the one MM has stumbled on(it's quite fashionable, apparently-the formation, that is, not the 'stumbling on') I think the abject displays of KD have probably scuppered a few of MM's pre-season plans.It would have to be the purely negative version of 4-5-1(which he wasn't playing well, anyway) to accommodate Doyle and some credit is due to his manager for identifying the need for Frimpong in order to realise the more attack minded version of playing five midfielders.I think it can be improved on further with JOH in place of Edwards but it may well be too late by the time JOH's legs are ready for the demands of covering the amount of ground the role dictates he needs to.As for the performances of AG, i'm as disappointed as anybody that he didn't take his opportunity to play his role with the same impact that Frimpong has.His control of the ball (away to Man C springs to mind) has been amateurish at times and far too often the ball simply bounces off his boot and out of his control. How much of that is down to TC? I'm not sure any of it is. I'm sure TC can reasonably claim that he can't be held responsible for a PL player not being able to trap the proverbial bag.In a way, AG has been so poor, that he hasn't progressed past the point that we could attribute his faults to his coach; should he display a lack of awareness of his supposed role or be constantly out of position-right place at the wrong time, sort of thing.In a nutshell; I don't think he's performing even the basics (natural) well enough to be able to make much of the nurturing he's received, on the basis that he won't hold a position down long enough for us to judge.As for some key moments of play that changed yesterday's game(Berra's attempt to clear the player rather than the ball and Henry's red) i'm sure there's still time for them to be refered to as 'silly mistakes'. And, as we all know, we'll be alright if we can just cut them out.
all4divisions
At least for 45 mins we showed we could play football as for the penalty what the heel was Berra doing the Jarvis bad pass and the idiot Henry.But may be something good might come about as now Henry wont be playing and some one has the chance to shine Jonsson perhaps i mean thats why we bought him. Get JOH back if we can play like that we can still get out of this mess but im still worried if were looking at bringing Mancienne back the guy is not as good as what we have so what is the point. The three Ms have all said their is money to spend so why arent we spending it in stead of going for loanees who are not good enough.Like i have said in a thread before if Mancienne was that good why did we not sign him before it is a backward step he cant even get in to an average Hamburg team.
kiawolves
 

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