There have been some damning comments around the world of online Albion this morning. Gus Poyet isn’t helping: “If we cannot even score from a penalty how are we going to score a goal? I am getting really bored of managing a team like this one." Personally, I’m just happy I managed to get back from Leicester on a Tuesday night without having to leave the match early and run for the train station (last train to London is 2159, incidentally). To be honest, we’re not that far away from being a very good side - I think the fact the league leaders last night were injury time wasting the ball in the corner says more for our team then anything I could. But we have picked up some bad habits over the past 2-3 seasons. Unlike the comments on the Argus website, I’ve tried my utmost to offer constructive criticism, and a way forward.
I’m not going to pretend we know all the statistics around this but ever since our last title, Albion have struggled throughout to blast a penalty in the actual net. There was Barnes last night, there was Harley at Millwall (apparently he scored them for fun at Exeter), and countless others I’ve desperately tried to remove from my memory (seemingly, I’ve done a good job). Solutions: smash penalties down the middle or, failing that, get the players to expect the goalkeeper to save it and be quicker at following up
Er, one goal in five games. We haven’t scored in six of the 13 games we’ve played this season. Only CMS looks like scoring. We haven’t scored at the new Filbert Street since Adam Virgo in 2004. Solution: get a loan in; offer a better goal bonus; stick it in the mixer (see below)
Stick it in the mixer
I’m loathed to cover this point for fear of it being misconstrued and I understand GP’s tippy tappy loyalty but we need to get the ball in the box more often. I’m not saying lump it in the area all the time, I’m just saying that it is the only logical thing to do when you have a dangerous free kick / corner and the entirety of your team is waiting for a cross. On at least four occasions last night, Albion played it short, lost the ball, and suffered from a counter attack. It’s enough to make you cry. Solution: stick it in the mixer
Conceding deflected goals
Almost every goal we’ve conceded over these past five games or so have come courtesy of a deflection or some other hideous bit of unluckiness. Yet I can only think of one such slice of luck in our favour this season (Wayne Bridge’s Falmer free kick). But, really, it’s because other teams spend so much time in our box. Sam Allardyce at Bolton used to bang on about percentages, and, despite his hideousness (as a man and the way he makes his teams play), he was right. The more the ball is in the area, the more likely you are to get a slice of luck. Solution: keep the ball up their end
We only start kicking them in second half injury time
Many games this season have seen our, ultimately, lightweight Albion side get bullied for 90 minutes. Yet when it gets late in the second half, our annoyance shines through and we start kicking the opposition. By this time in a match, conceding free kicks is simply playing into their filthy time wasting hands. But if we offer a couple of early doors late challenges ourselves, then maybe other teams will act as scared of the opposition as we do. Solution: get into ‘em, fuck ‘em up (early doors)
The lack of Plan B
In the post match interview, even Gus seemed perplexed as to how his side could be so lacking in urgency having conceded so early: “It looked like we were happy to be losing 1-0 because we kept passing the ball and not committing forward until we told them.” But this is, really, a GP problem. He has instilled this calm tippy tappy mindset in his players and now gets upset when they carry it out. Solution: GP can’t have it both ways
Tomas Kusckazazkczk’s distribution
Say what you like about our smoking extraordinaire Casper Ankergren’s goalkeeping skills but his feet are better than any other keeper’s I’ve ever seen. The way he taunted the strikers at Peterborough and Charlton when we won the title was exemplary. Kusckazazkczk appears to be practising for when Falmer is chosen as a 2015 Rugby World Cup venue - he found touch on at least four occasions last night. Solution: get Kusckazazkczk to train with Casper behind the bike shed
Looking back over that list, there is one thing I’m more critical of than the team last night: TSLR. The fanzine fuckers forgot to bring any copies, making our distribution more akin to Michel Kuipers or Michel Kuipers II (Mr Kusckazazkczk). It means we’ll be frantically selling issues at Blackpool to make up for our ineptitude. Apologies to all that wanted one last night. Solution: bring some copies of TSLR042 to the Pleasure Beach
Almost all of these problems were with us last season which is why it’s such a shame that they don’t appear to have been addressed. This is what winds fans up the most, and those supporters last night deserve a good moan if they want to for travelling that far for an evening match. But lets have some perspective here kids, despite not winning in five, we’ve not been hammered by anyone and have been unlucky not to secure more points. We know we’re only a play-off hunting side and, even with this recent form, we’re still only two points off the play-offs. Fix the above problems and we’ll win the League.
So is there trouble in Gus’ paradise? Not from where I’m standing - we’re just expecting too much, too soon.