Were we really surprised by the Cambridge result? Disappointed, yes, but surprised? Not really.
I may have mentioned this before but let’s not forget that up to now our new manager has had to play with the same players who couldn’t scrape a win in 15 games under Bruce, and essentially a squad that has been in a four and a half year relegation battle with Bruce and Benitez at the helm. Let’s just say confidence is hardly soaring.
Browsing through the blogs and YouTube videos the frustration is already starting to build and rather surprisingly Howe is already taking flak from the fans.
Obviously we don’t want to be losing to League 1 opposition but if I’m honest I’d have to say I’m not one of those fans who thinks “a good cup run” is a necessity for a team fighting relegation. I’d prefer a schedule with fewer games, hopefully giving us a better chance of staying up, a task which is difficult enough without throwing in pointless injuries.
I think it was the great philosopher Mike Ashley who once said, “It’s all about staying in the Premier League”, and shockingly, following their visit to the dressing room after the match, it would appear that our new owners agree.
Trippier had a solid start and had his performance been given by any of our other defenders I think it would have received considerably greater plaudits. He was strong in defence pushed the ball around well and banged in some decent crosses, but adding one defender and expecting to see a difference is a bit like having another go at the Alamo with one extra crack musket marksman, and expecting a victory.
The team was generally received as being strong. But who are we trying to kid? With no Lascelles, Clark, Fernandez or Dummett, and Krafth thrown in at center back we were always going to struggle against any team, regardless of which league they are in. While I may make a habit of having a go at our back four (five, six, seven or eight) I wouldn’t have expected Lascelles and Clarke to have had too much trouble with the Cambridge offence.
The absence of Wilson clearly demonstrated our total reliance on a single individual to be able to find the net.
We had upwards of 25 attacks on goal and failed to score, while Cambridge had a couple and scored with one of them.
I’m not a big fan of Eddie Howe but it’s hardly fair to blame him because he has inherited a squad with only one striker.
That said I would have thought that our number one Championship striker Dwight Gayle might have even started. Horses for courses. I can only assume he’s sick.
If there is any point at all to this ramble, what I am slowly getting round to is that I recently suggested that we would possibly be better off pouring our early resources into strikers rather than defenders. King Kev told us “if they score 3, we’ll score 4”.
We had more than 2 dozen chances to score and couldn’t convert one. We gave away one goal and it was “Game Over”.
One defender isn’t going to achieve the required change, while one quality striker would have certainly made all the difference against Cambridge. It’s all very well wanting to get onto the front foot more, which we have clearly done, but once you are there you need someone who has at least a rough idea where the net is.
I hope that our exit from the FA Cup has rearranged our priorities a little.
I hope this coming week sees a proven Premier League Striker through the door.
I also hope that our fans figure out that Howe is not the problem. The players are the problem.
I think even Gordon Ramsey would take one look at these ingredients and head straight for the Chip Shop.