One question I imagine Martin Jol is asking himself a lot is “why have my players stopped defending?”
It’s all well and good everyone going “Jol out” all day every day but as per the post-sacking player interview cliche, there’s an element of the players having let him down, too.
One by one:
Stockdale is an inexperienced top flight goalkeeper, so no blame to him here.
Sascha Riether is, if you listen to the message boards, the second coming of Cafu, so he can’t be to blame.
Amorebietta (can a song to the tune of De La Soul’s “Eye Know” be worked in here at some point?) was an important player for the fabulous Athletic Bilbao.
Brede Hangeland was Sir Roy’s main man at the back.
John-Arne Riise has been an important player for Liverpool and Roma. Kieron Richardson played for United and Sunderland and was generally well thought of along the way.
Then before them you have players like Scott Parker, England’s player of the year quite recently and every club’s dream combination of effort and ability.
Steve Sidwell is not everyone’s cup of tea but he’s had a good track record and our dive only started when he got suspended last year. Georgios Karagounis is old but experienced.
You would think that whatever training or tactical brain farts the coaching team is wafting their way, these players with their collective know how would still have the experience and ability to defend. Bad coaching or man management can’t single handedly destroy the intellectual faculties of all these people.
So what’s happened to these people? Have they all got too old at the same time? Is the team structure really ruining their competence? I don’t buy it completely. Hangeland was in a back four under Roy Hodgson that would’ve seen how to shut down the best. He is a bright man; he would know the difference between now and then. He could use this knowledge to work with teammates to make things better. Parker’s seen it all and done it all. He can recognise a team struggling and a team doing well. Can’t he diagnose this team’s shortcomings and personally decide to help out at the back or something?
Or are they all just running around like headless chickens because they haven’t got a precise framework to work with?