Date: 8th November 2010 at 11:48am
Written by:

Oh dear! It`s Groundhog Day again. I`ve just woken up to the sound of our manager repeating the same old hard luck story. Let`s hope that after Wednesday`s match against Arsenal Mick gets to sleep with Andie MacDowell!

And we were so close on Saturday. To count down the extra minutes I always set my watch to timer mode … and the seconds were ticking away nicely, even though I had no idea why the referee had added so many of them in the first place. Then, I heard Jeff say, ‘Now, over to Charlie Nicholas`. My heart sank because I knew what was coming.

I was so disappointed that even my wife sympathised with me and let me finish the bottle of wine with my curry. Indeed, she said I could watch Football First at 8.25 p.m. I declined her kind offer; I needed another couple of hours – and even more beers -to compose myself. Even Cheryl Cole couldn`t comfort me. I bet Robert Plant, whose concert I viewed later that night, would not have sung so well had he performed live.

How many times have we thrown points away at the end of a match (or in this case at the end of each half)? In spite of protestations to the contrary, certain players never seem to learn the importance of concentration for the full ninety minutes … ah! … I have just realized the problem. They might focus for the allotted span: it`s the extra few minutes they haven`t sussed out yet. It`s got to stop. Good goal though it was, Park should never have scored it. He waltzed past several of our statues without anyone offering a challenge of any description, let alone a credible one. Ward missed him twice and Fletcher bought the dummy. Mick looked shell-shocked. We gifted Park his first goal too.

MM couldn`t even console us with his customary mantra of focusing on the positives. Manchester United put out a severely weakened side, including players, who were still suffering from the effects of a virus. It`s a pity that Park wasn`t one of them! That is not to say that we can`t put a positive spin on the match. We continue to make progress and create chances. Fletcher should have buried the one handed to him on a plate late on in the game. This is not the first time that he has ballooned the ball miles over the bar and he is clearly lacking match sharpness. He needs to feature in the starting line-up and get a few games in before he can function properly. Even so, dare we change such a promising formation?

Unfortunately, to accommodate Fletcher, we would have to sacrifice a midfielder. As it`s impossible to discard Milijas, such a move would leave us exposed defensively, emphasizing the crucial importance of fielding a solid back four. Ward should go, perhaps to be replaced by Foley when Zubar regains his fitness. Ward should have prevented Park`s second goal. Earlier in the match he could have given away a penalty, if not a goal; having carelessly allowed Bébé to dispossess him in the box, only his inability bodily to haul him back enabled him to get away with it (that, and the joint action of Berra and Stearman). If Milijas is a luxury we have to afford, Ward isn`t. Roll on January.

Wednesday`s match will therefore be interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, I think that the last-gasp defeat may finally have convinced MM of the need to act and to jettison all ‘passengers`. Secondly, it will provide a test of our resolve, as well as a genuine indication of our ability to compete with the best. If we can, we should be able to beat the lesser teams. Thirdly, it will allow me to check on the state of my pact with the soccer gods. I have honoured my side of the bargain; on Saturday, the Welsh R.U. team lost to Australia so it`s only fair that the Wolves win in mid-week. Don`t bet on it though!

Southbank60

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