Hi folks, I’m back after a bit of a bloliday. The agent and the Arsenally little one needed a bit of attention, and work had been piling up around me.
Another reason I haven’t posted recently was that I was scared I’d produce something so vitriolic, so bilious that servers would crash and burn through the fury of it all.
It’s been a bit of a frustrating time, hasn’t it? Out of all competitions, some might say. Until Blackburn, we had control over our own destiny in that successive victories would have seen us win the title. Now, it’s out of our hands.
What gets me the most is the apathy of our non-performance against Blackburn. AW gave a very honest summary of the game:
We had a bad performance today. You don’t get away with that kind of performance against a Blackburn side who defended well. We had no change of pace, no penetration, our rhythm of passing was too slow – exactly how we don’t want to play. It’s disappointing, and I’m really concerned about the level of our performance today. Players have come back from international duty and they’re not sharp – half of the team has not recovered.
I wouldn’t argue with a word of that, but I will add two points which frustrated me more than any lack of pace or penetration.
Firstly, almost all of the Premier League teams had players playing in internationals in midweek. What kind of excuse is that? Everyone else had the same problem, but didn’t let it affect them. For AW to use that as an excuse struck me as desperation.
Secondly, where was the enthusiasm, drive to win, burning desire to win? It wasn’t there. And that has two causes. Teams need to be inspired by the manager, and it worries me that that didn’t seem to happen.
And, was there a vocal presence on the pitch? Was one player chivvying the others along, encouraging them, motivating them? No. We desperately need a player, or players who make their voices heard. Who inspire the others when the pace drops. Who finds motivation in the result that all the players heard that weekend – West Ham 2 ManUre 4.
Yes, it would have been dispiriting to have thought that United would lose, only for them to come back from 2-0 down and win against the Hammers with four unanswered goals.
But seriously, could no-one lift the players? Could no-one point out that a ManUre victory meant that winning was the only option for us? I don’t see any other teams who seem to suffer so disproportionately when things don’t go well for them.
Another thing that seemed to knock us off our stride was the injury to Samir Nasri. It looked nasty, and knocked the wind out of our sails after a good start. Kudos to Nasri for coming back on, but I did get the feeling that he wasn’t functioning at 100%.
With Wilshere also the target of some hefty Blackburn tackling, we needed someone to step up and urge the players on. We just didn’t have that.
And that wasn’t simply because Cesc Fabregas started from the bench. even with him playing we lack a vocal presence on the pitch. I think Cesc does inspire others to play well, but when we’ve been battered around and lost our flow, he’s just not the type of person to be vocal.
Fingers crossed, and we will have some more leadership when Vermaelen returns next season. I hope that we’ll sign someone who can inspire others and lift the team’s spirits in situations like Blackburn’s visit to the Grove.
In the meantime all we can do is play to the best of our ability, starting against Blackpool on Sunday. Can a team that hasn’t won since the end of February still go on to lift the title? It’s possinle, so I’ll keep on dreaming.