Like the majority of people I was hoping that the Leeds result would be a turning point in our season and we would kick on with a victory away at Bolton.
Yet again, not just the result, but the performance was a mere shadow of what we had seen against Leeds and we came away with the humiliation of losing to a side that was yet to win this season and rooted to bottom of the division.
Now lets put this into perspective. Any team can have an ‘off day’ when things just don’t go your way and you come away with nothing, just ask the Chelsea fans last weekend at Crystal Palace.
Unfortunately it is happening all too often this season and our performances at times are so inconsistent that it defies belief. Even going as far back as last season there are just too many occasions when we start too slowly, a lacklustre methodical tempo to our game, usually resulting in us going a goal behind and then it’s like the charge of the light brigade for 15 or 20 minutes in the second half to try and get something out of the game.
Sometimes we get back into it, sometimes we don’t, but the frustration has to be that we feel this is the right way to address a game and to play two halves of football in such contrasting ways. Carlos has said in the past that this isn’t our intention but how many times does it have to happen for somebody to learn from it?
As a junior learning the game, and even in my time as a professional, it was drilled into you that you needed to start the game with a high tempo. It is extremely difficult to raise the tempo of your pace of play if you start slowly, and yet we seem to do it nearly every week.
How many times have we ‘come out of the blocks’ from the referees' whistle and really had a go at teams early on? We seem intent on keeping possession in our own half, and time and time again I have commented on our reluctance to pass the ball forward, early, and with quality.
What infuriates me the most is that when we do revert to basically throwing the kitchen sink at teams we either lump it forward or at best play in the opponents half and then create more chances or opportunities in doing so. Don’t get me mistaken here, I am most definitely not advocating ‘lumping it forward’ at all, but I do feel that we fall in to this way of playing when we are chasing games and it really doesn’t help our cause.
If you look at the season so far it really is a model of inconsistency with us having won four, drawn four and lost four games. What is most alarming for me is that we have kept just two clean sheets in those 12 games, and only two out of 14 if you count the Carabao Cup matches.
A solid foundation is what a good side is built on and in all honestly I feel our defending this season hasn’t been at the level that we have seen over the last couple of years.
Confidence plays a big part in this, a hesitant decision usually results in a bad decision and this then compounds the lack of confidence and it becomes a vicious circle.
The difference between success and failure at times are very small margins, especially at this level and I’d love to see us get back to doing the basics better and to grind out a couple of results with clean sheets. Getting the confidence and understanding back is paramount.