Three gripes

Trying to rationalise yesterdays result.

We created (apparently) 18 chances including hitting the woodwork. Although the chances were never always clear cut and usually long range efforts, there's an undisputed argument that for the best part of the game we dominated in terms of possession and intent to go forward and score. Sunderland defended, we attacked. Okay so our version of attack is not quite the swashbuckling variant we have been accustomed too in recent seasons. Our movement up top is not the best. We tried to win the game and probably would have won it if Gallas and Kaboul did not brain fart in synchronicity to allow the equaliser from their first effort.

There are two gripes here. Three gripes. Probably more, but I'll go with the three for now.

Gripe #1 - Forwards, lack of. I know this is turning into a weekly excuse but there is a deficiency in our league games that is making the performance appear worse than it actually is. It's all about scoring goals, obviously, and if you don't you're not going to be winning many games. Even when we play just above average football we still endeavour to craft and create. But the issue remains because we don't have a robust tenacious forward in the side, it's akin to Zorro being asked to sword fight with a haddock in his hand. However, as witnessed at Bolton, we can score goals. It's the one dimensional application that places us under pressure and the longer the game goes on the more it plays on our minds.

Gripe #2 - Urgency, lack of. For around 70 minutes we asked all the questions. But it felt like we stood there speaking in a monotone drool slowly working through a power-point presentation made up of bland and boring graphs and stats. Where was the intentionally placed photo of a woman in a bikini in amongst the slides to brighten up the presentation? It's all a bit one gear, same speed with little variation. See end of gripe #1. Now perhaps I'm being a little harsh here because I know there are several of you (I've checked) that believe it was a 'frustrating result but not a frustrating performance'. I appreciate what you're trying to say here, but it is a frustrating performance because the players need to work just that little bit harder and we need to go beyond just 'asking questions' and just ram it down their throats a bit like Steve Jobs jumping around on stage during a key-note speech screaming 'IT'S MAGIC, IT'S MAGIC, IT'S MAGIC!'.

Okay, go on then, you've forced me into it. Here's another analogy. We're like an iphone 4. We look fantastic out the box but if we struggle to fulfil the most important function, then we're practically rendered useless. We need a new antenna (see gripe #1 again) because trying to hold ourselves up in an awkward manner is simply not working. Unless we're in Europe. Where reception is pretty good.

Last season we churned out results. Whether it was with or without key players. Our midfield in the past might have resulted in a migraine or two, so the irony of having a midfield now but nothing up top hurts. But even so, it's not like we're not creating chances. There simply has to be more urgency in our play. Get into the box, hassle, do or die even if its unwarranted in terms of it being a club like Sunderland (rather than a NLD). Works for United in the tenth minute of injury time. We need to make it work for us. Because with that attitude, if we did have a working forward, we'd be laughing proudly.

Gripe #3 - The basics. This is something that leaves me scratching my head. And it might be something that isn't looked at in terms of major reconstruction internally but there's enough to make me hope Harry does takes a look. It's the simple stuff. Like set pieces. The way we defend them is obviously something we all know is an issue. But I'll concentrate on the way we attack them, or should I say not attack them. Countless corners - no end product. Not suggesting we score from everyone but Christ, come on Spurs, make at least one of them count. We still don't appear to make the most of direct/in-direct free-kicks either. And in terms of desire the players have to understand that just going through the motions even if those motions are decent (in terms of passages of play) it's not always going to be enough to defeat the opposing side. Players have to adapt in game and add some ooh into the oomph. If Bale is being doubled up and there's no Lennon on the other side, swap it around for ten minutes. Force Sunderland into changing their shape. Reshuffle damn it.

Felt yesterday evening was a routine display where we just did the same thing over and over again. Enough to win it, excluding the mistake that meant we didn't. When we did score our goal it was from the first decent cross from Bale and vdV once more alert to the nod down from Crouch. There is more to us than this. Even with missing players and that need for a new forward. We are not this one dimensional. And let's be frank here, a man holding a fish might not be as cutting as a man holding a sword, but you can still smack someone in the face with it.