After a highly nondescript performance at Everton on Monday night, I was expecting some form of response today. To say that didn’t arrive is an understatement, with us slipping to a 1-0 defeat against a rock bottom Baggies side.
Before I get into it, one thing I will say is that the minority who boo’d at the end should hang their heads in shame. Yes it was way below what we’ve come to expect (all thanks to a real upturn in form of late), but we’re staying up, we’re currently in the top 10 and we’ve just recently delivered four straight home wins at St James’..
It’s inevitable that we won’t win every week at this level with such a limited group of players. Yes they weren’t at it today, and it was a frustrating watch from start to finish, but boos? Give over.
Today was pretty shite, but listen – we're 10th, we're staying up and we had just won four on the spin at St James'..
— Black&WhiteBarmy (@BlackWhiteBarmy) April 28, 2018
Now to the game. Based on the first half, it felt like a game crying out for Slimani. We kept getting the ball out wide but never put it into the mix, and rightly so – Gayle wasn’t going to have much joy against two 6 and a half-foot centre-backs!
Slimani eventually came on, but did little to impress. He cut a frustrated figure as he went straight down the tunnel soon after the final whilst, and it may turn out to be the last time we see him. A 3-match retrospective ban looms after an alleged kick out at West Brom defender Craig Dawson.
It’s a shame really. I genuinely think he could’ve been a big hit and a player perfectly suited to Benitez’s system, but a mixture of injuries and a lack of sharpness (and time to impress) will make him out to be a pretty awful signing in the end.
It was just one of those days for us though, featuring no end of misplaced passes, sloppy touches and a total lack of cutting edge in the final third. It was a big chance missed to consolidate our place in the top 10, but it’s also a timely sign to Mike Ashley that we are still a side severely lacking in quality.
With Leicester losing, a win today would’ve put us level with 9th place, but on the flip side, Palace (who stuffed them 5-0) are now putting the pressure on our place in the top 10, moving up to 11th (3 points away from us).
I don’t buy the idea that we played without any sort of effort or commitment today, but we did lack the intensity and solidarity that we’ve prided ourself on over the last few months.
We were incredibly sloppy and some may have had one eye on their summer holiday’s – something that won’t be tolerated given each place in the league worth is worth £1.9m.
Today was an avoidable slip up and sloppy performance, but results today have actually confirmed we now can’t go down – and staying up was the ultimate aim.
Anyhow, on the day our safety has been officially confirmed, I won’t be too downbeat about this one. It’s highlighted the importance of signing quality players this summer – something that may actually help Ashley realise the importance of backing Rafa this summer.
Onto Watford away next weekend!