To their credit they did not let us carve open a clear-cut chance in front of goal, our best opportunities coming from crosses and longer-range efforts. Praise is due particularly to their ‘keeper Simonsen for the full-length fingertip stuff, and also for impressively began his time-wasting with just 24 minutes showing on the big clock.
Hudd: The Debate Rumbles On…
In his defence, his passing ability was rather stifled by the soul-destroying lack of movement from team-mates, and also by the fact that it is pretty darned difficult to play an incisive ball behind a deep eight-man defence.
The case for the prosecution however, will point to numerous aimless balls punted in all directions, as well a curious determination to nip in the bud any counter-attacking impetus we had, by slowing down the game or conceding possession as we looked to scamper forward.
… And Niko Kranjcar, Don’t Think You’re Getting Let Off Lightly Sonny
Like Hudd, Kranjcar is a player of good technique ( he does strike a sweet long-range shot), which renders it all the more perplexing that these two insisted on so many touches whenever they received possession yesterday. The notion of slick, pacey one-touch football seemed a million miles away, and the problem was compounded by the frequent misplacing of passes, short and long, or dawdling on the ball to get caught in possession. This was Stoke’s cue to swing a leg and hoist the ball into orbit, for Dawson to head back, and begin the process all over again.
I and 30,000-odd fellow spectators can be notoriously fickle, and the grumblings of discontent tend to filter through sharpish at the Lane when matters are not going to plan. In such circumstances we need at least to see the players looking like they are playing with some urgency, so it is perhaps unfortunate that the Hudd and Kranjcar simply bear the appearance of sluggishness, even if they are working their socks off. Both appeared guilty of rocking on their heels too frequently yesterday, in common with various other team-mates.
Energy From Lennon and Jenas
It appeared that salvation might come from the unlikely source of Jenas, and he deserves credit for his earnestness and energy – but Gazza Mk II he ain’t, and his willing alone was not enough to fashion a clear chance.
While I have singled out Hudd and Kranjcar, the general lack of movement was galling, and we were also undone by the players working at cross-purposes throughout. Simple give-and-goes went awry as players gave and didn’t go, or both went at the same time, or generally were looking in the wrong direction at the crucial moment; and a Stoke player duly swung a leg, and Dawson headed back, and it all began again, as the sound of weeping began to emanate from AANP Towers.
Good news part two – we’re still in the top four, as the dropping of expected points is rather becoming the vogue amongst our rivals this season.
Good news part three – I think we’d all take a defeat to Stoke if it could be followed by a win at l’Arse…
As ever, all are