Dear me, that was all a bit lacklustre wasn’t it? You can’t win them all (or even two in a row most of the time), but in stark contrast to the Derby victory, we looked second-best throughout Monday night’s game. We did manage to create some opportunities for Cody McDonald, and at times hurried the Ipswich defence into some dodgy passes, but that was about it really. Even when we got into good positions, we’d stutter and stumble our way out of them.
What struck me most was how surprised we seemed by Ipswich’s movement and passing, which given our own tentative start to the game, we were unable to ever really find an answer to. They gave us a right good hiding in those opening 20 minutes that’s for sure. At least Chopra fannied up every chance he had. I have very little time for him following his antics against us last year. Dives, elbows and non-stop whinging. What a pleasant man he is.
Unsurprisingly the TV blokes tried to make something of the chance Cody had to bring it back to 2-1 just before half time, but well done to Andy Thorn for not letting that influence his assessment; I don’t think that would have made a great deal of difference either. It was one of those games we never really got into. The tempo was slow without the ball, while the usually composed pairing of Keogh and Cranie were panicked in defence, and too many players ahead of them found themselves on the periphery of the action.
We’ve been underpinned by a solid defence so far, but that wasn’t the case on Monday and we were left ambushed on plenty of occasions. With Gael unable to compete against Lee Bowyer, Carl Baker drifting further and further from the action, and David Bell giving a typical ‘1 good pass followed by 5 bad’ performance, our only real resistance lay with Sammy. As against Derby though, he again found himself far too isolated, and quite how we went in only 2-0 down at the break, heaven only knows.
There was a slight improvement after the interval, with McDonald in particular regularly finding himself in promising positions. This was in keeping with his previous performance, where he wasn’t quite as involved, but was still able to cause the defence problems through his movement. Pretty much every chance he had was on his head, which in the scheme of the match wasn’t the best thing. If that first one had gone in, great, but you could see his confidence started to drop when he missed the next header. It was pretty difficult – a low stoop with minimal reaction time – but this is the guy who scored a crazy amount with his bonce last year, so I’m sure he would have expected to put it away. After that, you could almost see him begging for a nice easy one along the ground. Fernando Torres may beg to differ.
A telling contrast was in the left-back positions. With Carl Baker consistently making sure he is wherever the ball’s not, this inevitably draws defenders with him, leaving Hussey as the obvious option to receive it on the left. Hussey is still learning, meaning he is a frustrating so-n-so, because he sees so much of the ball and really should do a lot better with it. Like the team performance, he was tentative in possession, and most of his crosses lacked any real purpose or direction.
Compare Hussey’s performance with his opposing number Cresswell for Ipswich, and us Cov fans could only sit and wonder what it would be like to have someone who could deliver crosses of his quality, that consistently. I’d like to think Thorn will be really pushing Hussey to work on his delivery having seen what other players in the league are capable of.
I think it’s that consistency from individuals that eluded us against Ipswich. You might be able to carry a player or two, but there were far too many who didn’t play to the required level for most of the game – and when they did, it was a fleeting contribution.
They can learn from this though. Biggy’s so young, he’s going to have off days. Taking him off could give him a little kick up the bum and next time we see him he’ll be the lively bubbly fizzer of the ball that left so many of us cooing in pre-season. Same goes for Cyrus. You could see he was fed up just before he was taken off. I’d hope he can return to the training pitch and be ultra-eager to put things right in the next game.
Cranie, Jutkiewicz, Christie, Biggy, Keogh and even Clingan (although I had him as MotM) can all play far better than they showed in the game. I liked Thorn’s response – a bad night at the office – which I’d hope that’s all this was. There’ll be plenty of them this season. We certainly don’t want players who have done well so far this season dwelling on one bad game.
David Bell on the other hand – well, he should dwell on it. Ever such a lot. Desperately needs to get a bloody grip of himself. A couple of reasonable crosses amongst a whole load of crap is no good to anyone, man.
Back to it lads. Bring on the Royals.