Five (late) observations from Odense

Our recent performances have been more positive I think. We’re still desperate for that elusive Premier League win but I’m feeling much happier than I was a few weeks back. Tomorrow’s going to be a tough game to watch though. We’ll all be on edge the longer we go without scoring and should we go behind, well I think it might get ugly. Watching the Odense game highlighted the difference between European & English football. We had so much more time on the ball and dominated possession. Despite that Odense could rightly claim to have had the best of the chances. I know it’s a little late but here’s some more stuff that I noticed.

1. Matthew Briggs is fast turning into a real player. I thought he had a cracking game and was thrilled to see someone with real pace bombing down the left flank. He is almost unrecognisable from the 16 year old who made his debut at Middlesbrough under Dirty Sanchez. I think he played holding midfield that day and seemed destined to become a centre back, since then he’s thinned out, picked up some fancy footwork and found a barber with a sense of humour. I felt he combined well with Duff who looked much more comfortable on the left than he has on the right. Matty has been called up to the England U21s too, so bright days ahead for him I suspect. He might even be that full back England need to win the World Cup again.

2. ITV commentators (and I suspect every other channels) clearly get all their facts and figures from the pre-game press pack. For the second time this season I played “spot the UEFA stat” and chuckled away as they read facts from the sheet provided. I was counting the time after Sidwell came on before Peter Drury felt obliged to mention Steve’s own goal against Odense when playing for Villa. He lasted about 30 seconds. I’m sure it wasn’t like this in Motty’s day.

3. Philippe Senderos needs better studs. I’ve not been a big fan of the Swiss defender’s efforts so far but I felt he was having one of his better games until the comedy stumble in the second half. In normal speed it was hard to work out what happened. Initially I assumed he’d been injured but then he tried again to close the attacker down and slipped again. He pulled off his fine impression of Bambi on ice and got away without conceding what seemed to be an inevitable goal but that moment seemed to knock his confidence. From then on his performance was littered with errors. A pair of black boots with white trim, I suggest Philippe, and good old fashioned full length studs.

4. OB’s goalkeeper, Stefan Wessels, who Peter Drury gleefully informed us played briefly for Everton in 2007-08, looked remarkably like he’d been transplanted from an archve film of J.P.R. Williams playing Rugby for Wales in the seventies. Like a live version of the recent Match of the Day titles. All hair and legs.

5. Andy Johnson proved that hard work and persistence can sometimes provide just rewards. Though his end product HAS been disappointing at times he has impressed me with his willingness to run all day and work hard to find that crucial opening. Wessels should have done better with the first goal but AJ’s second was a thing of beauty and had me off the sofa and dancing round the room … again.

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