Villa, home: subbed after 70 minutes, lone striker, replaced by McBride. We scored almost immediately after he went off, then added another later on.
Boro, away: subbed after 64 minutes, lone striker, replaced by McBride. Not much happened for us that day.
Man Utd home: on in 91st minute in a game we’d lost horribly.
Reading away: on in the 83rd minute, scored in the 90th. A game we’d dominated but not put away. Nevland made it safe.
Liverpool home: on 76, bad game for Fulham, lost 2-0, can’t remember any impact.
Man City away: on 71 for McBride, straight after we’d scored a goal (seems unlike Roy doesn’t it?). Hauled down for equalising penalty. We scored again in the 90th minute.
Birmingham home: on 67 for Kamara, scored 87 to seal win.
Portsmouth: on 72 for Dempsey, we scored in the 76th minute to win 1-0.
Hull away: on 85, 2-1 down.
Bolton: on 85, 2-1 up.
(also Leicester in the cup when he scored but was offside)
It’s a pretty decent track record so far. Noteworthy that he’s started twice and been fairly invisible (not entirely his fault), then come on as a sub and done well. It’s hard to know the extent to which he was the beneficiary of a team hitting its stride or whether he was a vital part of that team hitting its stride. I think it’s fair to say that he did his bit.
Roy’s sub patterns much more varied, although I guess with McBride coming back to fitness this was a clear need, and Kamara got a couple of knocks I seem to recall. The Portsmouth sub (on for Dempsey) was a fairly attacking move.
In summation, you shouldn’t really read the above and spontaneously combust over his lack of use this year. He’s done a good job when called upon but there’s nothing there to suggest that his absence is costing us dear. One player simply doesn’t make that much of a difference, particularly a fringe player, however effective he might be.
My guess is that we’ll see more of Nevland as the season wears on, but that he’s unlikely to grow from his current role. We’ll probably see the odd start and he might do well and he might not (just like most forwards!) but there’s nothing here to get angry about.
Playing ten against eleven against a team that is leading by two goals wasn’t easy for us. When we went into the dressing room, the Manager changed things around and we pushed forward, pushing the right and left backs more forward and that changed a lot for us.
I’ll do the Telegraph density maps later in the week, but from them it’s clear that Simon Davies was operating as a second forward, playing, in total, further forward than both Zamora and Johnson. Now we get confirmation from Paintsil that the full-backs were pushing on. I noticed Paintsil roving in the second half, and thought he did that quite well, but Paul Konchesky worries me somewhat when asked to do too much attacking.
That could be construed as an admission of the lack of his squad’s depth, and certainly the absence of a specialist left winger was punishing, though either Seol Ki-Hyeon or Clint Dempsey could reasonably have been expected to be more visible than the ghostly Zoltan Gera. Chris Baird and Toni Kallio may also have been more reliable in the full-back berths than the negligent John Pantsil and Paul Konchesky. But not “definitely”.
“Definitely” was the key word in Hodgson’s explanation. By using it he left himself open to accusations of indecision or excessive caution. If we reflect on a record of success that extends well beyond last season’s great escape, we may instead deduce that his refusal to gamble on a substitution attests to the strength of his conviction in his methods, a belief, borne of his rich experience, that if you keep performing well you will eventually be rewarded.
Fair enough, all this. I think that, as usual, we’re slightly overreacting, but it’s a trend that does bear watching. Roy must have purchased the likes of Andreasen, Andranik and Etuhu for a reason; I’m sure if we’re patient we’ll see them.
The main thing is points on the board, and we’re about par for the course at the moment. No need to panic just yet.
Excellent piece in today’s Times. In short, you need to spend big to get a world class youth policy. Well worth a read, this, and shows just how far off we are in this regard.