Sunday, 1 September 2013

Never mix the grape and the grain.

Well I wanted 3 points and a clinical performance against Hull; we got 3 points. That was scruffy.

Where’s the team that played against Newcastle?

Like Cardiff City’s first ever Premier League home game we must have been REALLY up for the Newcastle opening fixture because we just haven’t seen the team perform in the two subsequent games. At times, Hull City unzipped us down the middle and any better team / strikers would have buried City 2 or 3 times over yesterday.

Soft middle

Not only do we still look vulnerable in the middle of the defence but I’m really starting to believe that Fernandinho and Toure just cannot play affectively together. I’m not calling Fernandinho a fine wine and neither am I calling Toure and exceptional ale - but playing them together is starting to give me a bit of a hangover.

In the opener against the Geordies they looked quite good together. Having said that, every player came out of that game with a 7+ / 10 performance rating. During the opening fixture of the season one of 'em dropped deep while the other went forward and they seem to have a good understanding of one another. At Cardiff – and more obviously yesterday – not only did they seem unsure who was supposed to be doing what (leaving us looking even MORE vulnerable at the back with little protection at times) but we also lacked any creativity from the middle.

Silva looked isolated at times on the wing; he does WAY more damage down the middle and often had to drift inside to get anywhere near as involved as he should be during 90 minutes. Navas just didn’t see nearly enough of the ball either…and I put that down to a lack of passing and organisation from central midfield too (not feeding him the ball). It just looked all wrong.

He’s at it again

Dzeko – a player on fire for most of pre-season; a very good performance against Newcastle and a crackin’ goal at Cardiff – looked like he’d sent his twin brother to stand in form him yesterday…and I take it his twin isn’t a footballer. He was back to his old ‘couldn’t trap a back of cement’ ways again and I wasn’t surprised to see him substituted at half time. I need to get him out of my Fantasy Football Team soon…

So what needs to happen?

Point 1
We’ve got a break now and although that’s still not enough time to get Kompany back; it might be enough time for Martin Demichelis (assuming he’s going to sign tomorrow of course) to get used to his new teammates. Perhaps we need to play a full 90-minute, ‘behind closed doors’ friendly game (as much as missing personnel - due to International games - allows of course) to sort out some issues during the break.

I’m not blaming them for all of our frailties yesterday but if Lescott and Nastasic perform like they did against Hull when we go away to the potential aerial bombardment of Stoke City, then we’ll be in real trouble. As Mancini often did at places such as Stoke; Pellegrini too might opt to leave out Nastasic for this one. If so, that leaves a potential new central defensive partnership of Lescott and Demichelis at the Britannia Stadium on 14th September. That MAY improve things.

Point 2
Drop Fernandinho. I had reservations before we even signed this fella (comment at the very bottom of this post from way back on 2nd May 2013) and although he doesn’t look like a terrible player; I’m yet to see what we paid £30M for. That's 30…MILLION…QUID!

Anyway, that’s not why I want him dropped. It’s either him or Yaya in the middle for me and Yaya just gets the nod.

We need to bring Silva inside and in a 4-4-2, that’ll be:

Nasri                           Silva                Navas


That looks a bit more like it.

Not happy with Yaya sitting deep? Well in that case then stick the more-mobile Fernandinho in. This is exactly why we should never have sold Nigel de Jong…and is why I don’t necessarily agree with letting Barry go out on loan either (I’m just not a Garcia fan…and Rodwells injury record is there for all to see).

Having said all of that, there is a 3rd option that I discussed with my mate after yesterday’s jittery match. As well as some fine performances on the flanks last season, Milner produced some good performances in the middle too. His pace and, in particular, his energy levels could see him perform a ‘sitting deep’, sweeping-defensive role to great affect.

However, for me, such is the need for Silva to be played in the middle; putting James in there would see both Yaya & Fernandinho drop to the bench and I just can’t see our Manager doing that. Point number 2, it would seem, is far more complicated than our fragile-looking defence issues.

A quick note at this stage: I thought Kolarov had a good game yesterday and that is high praise indeed from me…

Point 3
This is much easier. Swap Negredo for Dzeko and use this break to get Jovetic’s match fitness up to scratch (again, a friendly game will help if our new signing isn’t going away with his country of course).

Keep calm and carry on

When all is said and done we won a game ugly yesterday and we have 6 points from a possible 9; currently lying 2nd in the (early) league table before today’s games.

We’ve also probably got a new, highly experienced defender coming in; we’ve got Kompany to come back, Richards is only about 2 weeks away, we’ve hardly used the very capable, adaptable & useful Milner and Jovetic is yet to make his league debut.

Stoke is never an easy place to visit (particularly for us it would seem); the Derby ‘is what it is’ and we’ve then got an improved Aston Villa away. But I’m confident that we’ll settle into a solid unit soon and can see us getting 7 points from the next 9 at the very least. We’re in good shape and I have a theory - and a feeling - that we’ll perform much better against teams who open up and come at us a little more [than Cardiff & Hull] from open play. At home, Stoke & Villa will do just this and, I’m sure, so will Manyoo when they visit the Etihad…

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