The boss takes the flak
After arguably the worst performance of the season, Ståle attempted to deflect fans` anger away from the players by taking the flak himself. As he admitted, "I had to look myself in the mirror and see what I have done wrong in the preparation or the tactics because this shouldn`t have come now at this point."
Of course, the manager, if given a free hand, has to shoulder ultimate responsibility for what happens on the pitch but the players are also accountable for their own actions. Something has gone dreadfully wrong: in comparison to Peterborough we looked listless, lacking bite up front and half-hearted in defence. There seemed to be no pride in wearing the shirt.
At least, earlier in the season, we played well for at least half the match, even if we eventually threw games away we ought to have won. Yesterday, we enjoyed over half of the possession but squandered it by poor passing, an inability to move into space and general lethargy. That`s typical of our current performances. There`s no pattern to our play: we`re so predictable in our tactics and so slow in our build-up play. Even when we create chances, as yesterday, we cannot put them away.
What has gone wrong? Why has the Solbakken revolution been derailed so quickly? Apologists point out that it takes time to carry out such a comprehensive overhaul of tactics and formations. I agree, but how much time do the players want? What have they been doing over the course of the past four months? It`s not rocket science and this is their very well paid, full-time job.
Has Ståle lost the dressing room? Rumours abound that there is friction between the manager and some of the players, whether on account of his abrasive approach or because they are incapable of executing his tactics is not clear at the moment. But, it has to be resolved ... and quickly!
I was willing to give Ståle a season to change the ethos of the team but I wanted to see progress by now. Instead we have gone backwards. With the transfer window mere days away the board has to consider the options available and act decisively. Either it has to back the manager to the hilt, giving him sufficient funds to bring in players, who can perform in the way he wants them to, or sack him. But if we do look for another manager, we do not want a repetition of the fiasco that accompanied the end of the MM regime.
I want Ståle to succeed because his approach marks an advance on the outmoded tactics of our previous manager. They`re the ones which would enable us to survive in the PL but are they suitable for the Championship? Look at how MM has turned round the fortunes of Ipswich.
This is what makes next week`s match so intriguing a prospect. An Ipswich win would be a retrograde step for us because it would seem to suggest that MM was right. He wasn`t, as our struggles in the PL proved. But how to square the circle is the task of the board. Luckily, we have money to chuck at the problem and I hope Ståle has already made a list of the players he wants to sign.