Don’t worry, I won’t finish that sentence. David Haye has ruined it for all of us.
Anyway, one thing I’ve always been concious of is falling into the trap of turning this blog into a written transcript of supporter hysteria. You know, the kind you hear when walking away from the game, whereby exaggeration is key to getting any point across. Everything is “one of the worst” or “by far the best” you’ve ever seen, and contrary to any rational thought, the referee was definitely on a crusade to piss you off. That’s not to criticise it, mind – I do it too during the course of a game.
But even after a day of thought, some things are still worthy of that “exaggeration”. Like the game yesterday.
I genuinely can’t recall seeing a game at the Ricoh where the entire 90 minutes was dominated by a team as Leicester did. The funny thing is, that’s not to say they caused us too much hassle. They didn’t really. There were moments when they got in behind, but what I mean is more in terms of the rhythm and tempo of the game. They were in absolute control throughout.
From our perspective, aside from the occasional corner (which are still as dangerous as a bubble-wrapped Roy Cropper), there wasn’t a period in the game when you could say we were on top, or were the side carrying the most attacking threat. We just didn’t have any.
This all came down to ball retention, and the single-mindedness of our tactics. It was long-ball in its purest form. We can all see the lure of Clive Platt when he’s up front by himself. I’m sure he makes a very compelling case for anyone on the pitch to get the ball to him. Every single time though? Come on, that’s ridiculous.
We started the game with a team, which on the face of it, should have provided a positive balance of strength and attacking ingenuity. Clingan and Carsley in the middle of the park provide a very solid core, with Clingan more than capable of receiving the ball and picking out a pass. This didn’t happen. Partially because of the way Leicester kept the ball from them, and partially because they were completely by-passed by our own long game. Annoyingly, they didn’t seem too bothered by this and were encouraging the defence to look for the punt at every opportunity.
McSheffrey and Danny Ward on each wing were there to provide pace, width and supply to the front men of Clive and the languid Jutkiewicz. In theory, anyway.
It became clear early on that Plan A wasn’t working, with McSheffrey being hauled off for high-earning reserve, Michael McIndoe. You’ve got to give McIndoe his due, while he excelled in his ability to run with the ball in an exceptionally straight line (out of play), his most telling contribution was the cross for Platt’s goal. Totally against the run of play, and the team’s disinterest in celebrating sort of summed up the performance up to that point. It was a local derby, but they weren’t up for it.
The second-half followed the same pattern as the first, with Leicester running rings around us. Needless to say we aided this by giving them the ball straight back at every opportunity. I’m not going to criticise Clive, as individually he’s been one of our most consistent performers so far this season. I can’t help be concerned by the style of play his presence on the pitch is inducing though. Is it managerial instruction, or do our players lack the confidence to hold the ball and look for the short pass? It’s noticeable how every team that has played at the Ricoh so far this season has built from the back, with the keeper only kicking long as last resort. Such a contrast to our own style.
Once Leicester were gifted their equaliser through a clumsy mix-up in defence, there was only one team that were under instructions to go on and win it. I think that was the most frustrating part of the day. While I got the impression against Portsmouth (and even Watford) that we were very keen to win the game, yesterday there appeared to be little appetite to force the issue and make sure we won. I hate to say it, but it was Coleman-esque. Yes, Leicester played good football and that was a contributing factor, but that shouldn’t mean that when we get the ball, we can’t keep it as well.
It’ll always be easier to pick out flaws than it is to find positives, but it’d be wrong to claim the game yesterday wasn’t concerning. We know we’re a work in progress, and it’s great that we’re getting results, but I don’t want people to be blinded by the points on the board at this stage. We haven’t played particularly well since the opening game since Portsmouth – that’s a fair judgement, and an important one.
I’m sure Aidy’s not daft; I’ve heard enough from him to make me believe that he’s an idea of where he can take us. The worry we have is that we haven’t shown any sort of form yet, and while Lady Luck has been on our side recently, it’s not going to last forever. Sooner or later we’re going to have to step up and make things happen for ourselves. There’s the real test.
Once more, over to you lads. Woo us.