Well somehow, by hook or crook, we actually managed to beat West Bromwich Albion, the bogiest of bogie teams as far as we are concerned.
In my match report I made a reasonably big deal of the fact that even though we managed to win we still played badly. A sign of a good team some might say, but it’s been going on for a while now and eventually our performances will need to be upped.
You see that is what is missing really – performance. Results haven’t been too bad although of course they could always be better. We’ve lost just two league games, away at Chelsea and at home to Manchester United, and those type of games are “write off” games as far as I’m concerned anyway. They are the kind of games where personally expect nothing so if we manage to get a result it’s a rather nice bonus.
However I must remember that this is a performance issue and not a results issue.
If you cast your minds back to the start of last season you will find our performances weren’t exactly sparkling either, yet we ground out results in an unspectacular fashion. The difference should be that we should have improved from last term, with essentially what is the same personnel.
So what is the difference? Tactics? Formation? Perhaps both of those have some bearing on things, but we did still spend time playing 4-4-2 last term, it wasn’t simply 4-3-3 all the way. Training? Maybe. Europe? Perhaps…
The team that played last season tended to feature in most games. I remember people saying how our starting lineup was predictable, how it was the same team week in week out with little or no competition for places. This season is different. Granted competition is still thin on the ground in certain areas of the side, but there is also the fact that it’s not often the same team of players gets to play together.
The main reason for that being Europe. We have played one team in the league with another team pretty much featuring in European games. The continuity and fluidity isn’t there as the team is being chopped and changed. Training must be harder also with Alan Pardew having to split his time preparing one team for one game to the detriment of the other team that plays in a few days.
Just my thoughts anyway. What do you think?