The defeat at Chelsea was about as predictable as these things get. Chelsea absolutely battered us for long periods and while we held out for a time, there was no sense of controlled resistance. The final shots allowed tally was well into the 20s, which is a theme we’ve all identified and which can’t continue if the team is going to pull itself out of this hole. True, Stockdale was at fault for their opener, but he’s made a lot of good saves since his return to the side and the defeat wasn’t remotely on his shoulders.
There was a telling moment on Match of the Day where Cardiff’s two banks of four were highlighted and praised. I appreciate that we’re not that team anymore, but as Jose Mourinho is pointing out whenever asked about Juan Mata, no team is too good for hard work in defence. Fulham certainly aren’t.
Did you know that Chelsea outshot us 24-4? Maybe you did. But I bet you didn’t notice that they out tackled us 27-16, too. (I’m being slightly wrong-headed here, as we intercepted 20 passes to their 2, but still). Look at the whoscored.com team summary for the season:
As we’ve seen in recent days, the team has had ups and downs like this a few times in the recent past and on each occasion a downward swing has been followed by much better form.
We’re due that upswing now, and if it doesn’t happen we’re in new, bad, territory, and perhaps the angry men have been right all along (although we must remember that many were equally negative about Hodgson, Hughes, and Jol during better times – sometimes it seems as if being negative about a football manager is a minor hobby for many).
It’s easy to blather on about things not being well but here, again, is a proposed simple solution: remove one attacking player and introduce one defensive player. Restore some balance to the team by installing Derek Boateng in front of the back four. He might not be “the answer” but I was persuaded by Tony Gilroy’s interpretation of his performance at Sunderland. Sidwell and Parker are to be defensively minded, too. These three will be the core of the team, it’s soul. Get back to basics by becoming hard to play against. Grind out some results. Earn the right to play. It’s a long season and we have the players to come good, but at the moment we’re playing terribly. A minor tweak like this could make a big difference without sacrificing too much. Dunno. We’ll see. Chances are we’ll improve without doing much in the next few games so all of this could be moot. And certainly we don’t want to see Jol flailing around for ideas with a new 11 and a new system every week. So we’ll see. It’s not all doom and gloom, but we’re due an improvement.