With a deluge of snow this past week or so there has been a noticeable lack of points and more worryingly lack of performances in contrast.
The trip down to Bristol City was a banker to be called off but you could easily see why they did everything they could to stop this happening. On a day when the Somerset police asked the public to only travel in extreme circumstances it did make you wonder, but when you are in that position as a player there is only one thing to do, get on with it!
I didn’t make the trip down there but by all accounts the performance was pretty much what we have seen on a couple of occasions recently, particularly Millwall and we were on the end of a bit of a spanking.
What has really surprised me over recent weeks is that when Jos Luhukay came in as the new manager it was plain to see that he had got us a lot more organised defensively and we became difficult to beat. Granted, you cannot just go through the season hoping to live off drawing games but there was a solidity about us and we looked like we were defending as a unit and had an understanding of what each and everyone was doing.
Over the last few weeks this solidity has disappeared completely and we are now shipping goals at a worrying rate. Now, if this was because we were suddenly playing some expansive attacking football and creating chances galore you could stomach it a little easier but we aren’t, in fact we now seem to have this strange notion that we should play possession football in our own final third.
As I stated on the radio at Millwall,Jordan it really is kamikaze football at times and we hardly seem to pose much of a threat going forward. How many times do we need to be caught in possession in our own half to learn our lesson? When Jos was asked about it in his interviews he just stated that we don’t play long ball football. This, possibly lost in translation or understanding is so wide of the mark it is worrying.
When we play possession football in our half, with little if any tempo the opposition will become braver and braver in pushing onto us. This in effect makes us play deeper and deeper as a team and all of a sudden instead of having the ball in relative easy unopposed possession we have strikers and midfielders bearing down on us and making it virtually impossible to play out.
The absolute very best ball playing footballers on this planet might just be able to get away with this on a regular basis. This inevitably invites the opposition onto us more and more, they win the ball higher up the pitch and we then find it impossible to ‘get out’.
We then end up doing exactly what the manager doesn’t want and that is for the keeper to stick his foot through it, usually under pressure and they usually win the first header and because we are so out of place they win the second ball and come straight back at us. This was so obvious against Ipswich in the first half, we had very little on offer as an attacking threat in the first half and it was pretty plain to see that Ipswich hadn’t come to throw men forward and have a go at us.
When Lucas Joao came on at half time for the ever struggling Rhodes there was at least a spark of energy and brightness about us. The lad has done incredibly well over the last couple of months and it really is a shame that he hasn’t had a constant run in the team. Whether this is due to fatigue or possible injury we aren’t sure but Joao and Adam Reach are the only players I see with an ounce of confidence right now and thank goodness for them.
The manager has spoken about a lack of confidence within the camp, its not rocket science to see that it is sparse throughout the squad but how do you improve this? You improve it by not losing games for a start, which I appreciate is easier said than done at the minute, but get back to basics. Lets have a clean sheet, which gets us a point, then hopefully a decent performance that gives you something to build on. Start playing football in the right areas. This takes bravery from the players, not sticking your head on someone’s boot bravery but the type that Adam Reach and Lucas Joao have shown recently. Play forward quicker, show some urgency and tempo when we have the ball but do it in the right areas.
We are in a real scrap now, only helped recently by the results going our way and if we are to improve there has to be a significant change of mind-set and
approach to the rest of the games in my opinion. The visit by Bolton this Saturday now takes on such significance that it is unreal. We need three points, no two ways about it and a performance to go with it would help!
Jon Newsome is the owner of prestige, sports and performance cars specialists, Automarques 21-23 Leigh Street, Sheffield S9 2PR