You have to be very careful sometimes about using statistics in football in my opinion.
You can at times make them say what you want them to say and they can be used to highlight or strengthen most points. Other statistics are simply downright glaringly obvious and unfortunately two wins out of the last 21 league games is one of the latter.
If you sit back and take that one isolated statistic on board it is a pretty frightening record don’t you think? Now, I am sure, if I could, I would hear the sound of the reasons or excuses why this might be from many supporters and I
agree, you cannot ignore the fact that we have an unprecedented list of injured players.
Just a quick thought on that though. I remember when Carlos Carvalhal was here and both he and the club gave out the statement that they wanted us to have two players in every position. The squad has been added to extensively over the last two or three seasons and we now carry a massive number of players in comparison to some of our competitors.
On occasions it has been comical looking at the squads on the reverse of the match day programme and seeing the oppositions finishing half way down the page and ours not far off requiring an extra fold out flap to accommodate them all. This then poses a couple of issues and questions for me.
First of all I’m thankful that we have got such a big squad of players, along with a number of excellent younger players that have all shown their capabilities at this level. Imagine what we would have done without that huge squad? But, and there has to be a but, if most of these players were brought in to the club as real competition for places, and not just as back up then there is a major problem, and I say major problem because that single statistic of two wins in twenty one says it all.
The players are either not good enough or they are not performing to their best because unfortunately that one statistic doesn’t lie. The old cliché has always been that the league table doesn’t lie and you will end up where you deserve to be. Again, I might not agree with that it in its entirety but we are where we are, and for good reason. The worrying element for me is that we just don’t look like we know how to get over the line and win a game anymore. The number of goals that we have conceded late on in games is another worrying trend and Saturday against Bolton was a real killer blow.
Being honest, did we deserve to win the game? I have my doubts but when you get into injury time you have to do everything you can to hang on and win such an important game. I will never single out individuals as this isn’t the place to do so but I do feel we have an unnerving attitude to allowing crosses into out penalty area from wide. It’s that extra yard, that extra bit of desire that will win you games and quite frankly it has been missing for far too long. There were nearly 27,000 supporters at Hillsborough on Saturday, just a few days after the debacle of the Ipswich Town game. I take my hat off to each and every one of you because what has been served up this season has been miles off the mark and you deserve better.
The way we set about nearly every single game has me wondering. We constantly invite teams onto us by playing this possession game in our own half.
The opposition grow braver and push onto us higher up the park. They know that there is little or no threat in behind and can therefore gamble more and more. We get deeper and deeper and either get caught in possession or end up
kicking the ball long, usually by the goalkeeper and have absolutely no chance of picking up the second ball because our midfield is still stuck in our own half. For me, it is just too easy for the opposition. We have no tempo, we don’t create many chances and overall we look dishevelled and out of sorts. The solidity that Jos brought in at the beginning seems to have gone as well.
We are constantly told that the players aren’t fit enough to play two games per week, they need rest and this week they get that opportunity. The flip side is that the teams below us all have games and we don’t, sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for in this game because, if any of them get a result, we could quite easily see our league position alter dramatically without even kicking a ball!
*Jon Newsome is the owner of prestige, sports and performance cars specialists, Automarques 21-23 Leigh Street, Sheffield S9 2PR