Yeah, I suppose there has to be some truth in that statement.
Being entirely realistic about the match given the players we’re missing, winning against a team of genuine footballing quality like West Brom was always going to be difficult. We don’t have a huge number of options to come in at the best of times – when those missing include Kieren Westwood, Sammy Clingan, Gunny and Leon Best, you’ve got to say your chances of winning against top of the league diminishes considerably.
So settling for a point in that context (even if it is at home) has to be alright…ish. That I can understand and accept.
I have to say though, there is one common judgement I hear which I struggle to understand the reasoning behind.
“They gave 100% today, that’s all you can ask”.
Forgive the simplicity of this, but is giving 100% really a valid source of praise for any professional footballer?
When I watch a player, the one thing I expect as a given is that they will give 100%. Full effort and commitment by all the players should be the absolute norm when they are on the pitch, not the exception. If they don’t, then they’re automatically marked down in the fan’s brownie-points column.
This is why I struggle to understand some of the praise that is being put the way of the players since Saturday. If you analyse the game properly, what you can say about our performance is that the players did work their socks off – but in terms of footballing quality, it was again very poor.
In every game a footballer plays, the one thing they should be able to say is that they worked their socks off / gave 110% / put a shift in /(insert any other effort-related cliché here). To me, this isn’t an optional element and what they should ultimately be judged on is what footballing impact they are able to have on the match. Of course you could argue that this rule is more relevant for some positions than others, but I don’t think any are entirely exempt.
Let’s look at an example.
Since he has arrived at the club, Michael McIndoe has failed to bring any real quality to the team, and his impact has been minimal (aside from a couple of relatively straight-forward assists). His overall performance on Saturday was again, below-par for a Championship standard left-winger. That’s the harsh reality of the situation.
His touch was clumsy, his vision was linear, he gave the impression of being scared and what is most troublesome of all, he doesn’t have the pace we were all led to believe he had. (All points which can be attributed to every one of his performances this season).
So, the fact that he ran around quite a bit and “gave 100%” doesn’t negate any of those points for me. Fact of the matter is, at the moment you could employ any player from a conference side to play instead of McIndoe, and they would offer you exactly the same effort and quality- only for a few thousand pounds a week cheaper.
I don’t want to get on at him. I’m just using this an as example of the pitfalls that come with being blinded by workrate and thinking that will bring success. The very same could be said about Michael Doyle, Andy Morrell or Robbie Simpson. They would all run and run. But that should never be at the detriment of quality – especially in attacking positions. Absolutely not.
So while 0-0 draw at home to West Brom was acceptable because we worked very hard for it and defended resolutely, the overall quality of performance by many of the players was still a worry.
Quite early on, the team made a very obvious decision to bypass any passing moves through the midfield and focus the majority of their attacking play via long ball. As a tactic, I don’t deny that sometimes this can prove the most effective. But there will still be many occasions during the game when an opportunity presents itself that requires a more precise build up. This is usually a counter-attack, or a mistake by the opposition midfield.
I couldn’t see any indication that we would be able to capitilise on those situations on Saturday. I think that was the biggest disappointment for me.
Maybe I’m thinking too much like Roy Keane and have unrealistic expectations of the team. I don’t know.
But I do think it’s fair and reasonable to feel strongly about one thing; If we’re ever going to achieve consistency in performance, the problem of inconsistent effort is something which should be easy to remedy and should come from each individual’s desire to achieve with the club. Choose players with the right drive, that’s half the battle.
The harder issue issue to solve is the issue of inconsistent quality, which is always the bit which will land you in trouble if you fall short.
What we need to remember is that the effort element is only what most of the teams in the league are doing as standard anyway. So as much as Coleman likes to preach it, that alone won’t get you anywhere against the majority of teams. If you match them for that (which we HAVE to begin to do), in order to win you either have to have more quality.. or failing that, more luck.
I think it’s obvious which of those factors we’ve got more chance of influencing so I’d love to see us address it somehow.
Ahhh, the simplicity of believing you can rely on our players to try week in – week out. What a world it could be.