29 October 2012


From the outside, a point picked up on the road is a good one. Blackpool are a great team, they have been for a while, and Bloomfield Road, with it's heavy pitch and seemingly narrow width, is no-doubt a difficult place to go.

But Albion were rubbish on Saturday. Really, really rubbish.

As mitigation, the aforementioned pitch is very un-Amex like. The ball bobbles, you have zero time to think, and the low sun must be frustrating (Blackpool, smartly, choose to play with the sun on their backs). Albion, however, still failed to register a level of composure and dynamism in Lancashire, and were extremely lucky to escape unscathed.

It seems that tiki-taka has evolved, and where once the voice of the stands was in support of pass and move, we know have to get used to a contemporary hoof-ball system. We have seen glimmers of this before of course. Greer walking the ball out of defence and playing Quarterback to whatever galloping forward is prowling along the 18 yard line. There's two key things with this; 1) You need a decent quarterback and 2) You need a striker who can hold the ball up. In Greer and CMS we don't seem to have either at the moment. The skipper launching poor balls to the classically strong and voluminous Championship midfield or Mackail-Smith whose second touch seems to be the cliched 'tackle'.

And it doesn't stop there. Crofts and Hammond were in classic crab mode, and Buckley was left isolated on the ball, starved of support from our increasingly conservative midfield both outside the box, and when he did penetrate the Tangerines full backs. Barnes huffed and puffed but his role is increasingly ambiguous.

At the back Albion were often caught out. Blackpool's talented players found time and space but the home fans were left aghast at how many chances their team spurned. El Abd, Bruno and Bridge were solid but Albion were worked extremely hard from all parts of the pitch; overlapping full-backs, meandering midfielders, aggressive and persistent attacks. Such was the onslaught that Albion lost their heads, and vast parts of the match were peppered with scuffed clearances, unforced errors and the rare terror of misplaced and underhit passes.

Poyet was smart in bringing on Orlandi for Bridcutt with 15 minutes to go, but the damage was already done. After our goal went in (comedyfending is not a purely Albion show), Albion sat back like we were playing Barcelona and the inevtitable equaliser came with about 16 or 17 Albion players in the box, plus Gus, Tano and the coach driver. The further introduction of Dobbie killed the match as both sets of fans spent the last few minutes watching him, scratching their heads and wondering when we'll see him play the way that had the home fans give him a warm and rousing round of applause upon his entrance.

There were a couple more chances at the death, but it didn't change the reality of this most Halloween of performances. These things go in cycles though, and Albion should be fired up for the game against Leeds. Last season saw patterns of wonderful and woeful Albion matches, what matters this season is that those dark times aren't allowed to infect and fester. Two home games on the bounce will show if Poyet has found the right remedy to make this season a healthy one at least.

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