is Fulhams home game with Stoke on saturday. All indications seem to be that Martin O'Neill is the favourite to be the new Fulham manager. I presume part of the reason that ROI have delayed appointing a new manager is because MON is aware of Fulhams interest. Fulham have a couple of easier games in the next few weeks and if they can get results, then Jol might just keep his job. If they dont, then there seems a pretty good chance O'Neill will go there. Which leaves Ireland looking at their options. Mick might cost them money, but Im not sure there is another manager who has a better profile who will be cheaper. Other than O'Neill. Perhaps Keane, but I cant see that happening.
Noticed it on the story about MM at the weekend too:
"Former Irish international centre-half McCarthy was previously in charge of Ireland for nearly five years from 1996 and took them to the second round of the 2002 World Cup where they lost on penalties to Spain."
Will offer a good contrast, with the left hand side getting its width from Cresswell and with a midfielder who will tuck inside, whilst the right-side has a full back who will sit back and give us the protection needed with a winger ahead who will attack.
MM doesnt seem to have an awful lot of confidence in Loach, think hes always wanted someone better and has replaced him twice as soon as hes felt able to (for Henderson last year and for Gerkin today).
Not sure what to read into the Hewitt decision. Either MM isnt happy with either right back hes got available, or this is simply about a different approach being required with Anderson playing instead of Edwards- the latter helps out the full back a lot, whereas Anderson is going to attack a bit more.
The pattern of the match was quite similar to the Reading game. A first half in which we matched supposedly better opposition, created some decent chances, but a second half in which we didnt get enough posession and the game slowly drifted. Neither Reading or QPR played particularly brilliantly, but the amount of second half posession was always destined to result in opportunities.
But I felt different leaving the match yesterday than after the Reading game. That difference was that, after the Reading match I felt there were lots of positives to be taken from a competitive performance against a favoured team, whereas yesterday, it felt that I was seeing us fall short for the same reasons a second time.
Central midfield is a problem. With Skuse on the pitch, we hold possession pretty well and hes a big improvement in that position on N'Daw. But the attacking issues that were very obvious last season are still evident now. When Skuse went off the pitch, we had problems with both possession AND attacking intent which is a pretty worrying combination. Joey Barton already had too much of the ball in the first half as it was, but in the second half he had so much time and we were constantly under defensive pressure. It was inevitable that QPR would create chances and it also resulted in us giving away so many corners and free kicks which was a concern when QPR are such a big team (they effectively had 3 centre backs on the pitch).
I couldnt blame Hyam for the lack of second half possession, but quite evidently the loss of Skuse was pretty huge. However, Hyam lacks that attacking instinct and I dont think thats something that hes going to add to his game, its not his natural instinct. The contrast with Tunnicliffe is striking, as he continually runs on ahead of the ball, looking to make runs into the penalty box- that sort of run should have got him a goal last week. Hyam is almost always behind the ball, wherever it is on the pitch. Aside from that, he doesnt have that instinct to shoot when that half-chance presents itself.
Hyam is one of our 2 defensive midfield options and currently Skuse is the better option. We need a better partner for him, I would give Tunnicliffe a longer chance, he looks ready. Long term, we have to hope that Wordsworth can find his feet at this level, because he does show indications that he is very comfortable on the ball.
Defensively, right-back is still a concern. I like Hewitt a lot as a player, but it is asking a lot to expect him to be ready to play that role for a whole season. Veseli as a backup is a similar question mark. They only have about 5 appearances at this level between the two of them. Fortunately, he wont come up against someone as good as Junior Hoillett every week.
Up front, McGoldrick and Murphy have a good combination together, good balance of abilities and with some more attacking support, both from central midfield and from the wings, then they will be fine. Given the way the game was going yesterday, I thought it made a lot of sense to get Taylor on and try and change the approach a bit, presumably get the ball into his feet and use his abilities with the ball to hold a bit more possession and perhaps create a bit.
But the team continued to throw the ball long, inexplicably, and Taylor barely had a touch of the ball for 10 minutes or so. Introducing Nouble was an obvious move- if the players werent going to adapt what they were doing, then we might aswell just at least get somebody on who can compete for those long balls instead. It was unexpected that it was Taylor that went off again, but in all honesty, if both Taylor and McGoldrick had played the whole game up to that point, it would have been a no-brainer to remove Taylor.
Two narrow defeats to two strong teams isnt bad on the face of things and we certainly showed we can compete. But ultimately, we were a bit short against both of them, probably deserved to lose yesterday (perhaps less so at Reading) and thats probably about where we are- a little bit short of that level. The frustration is that, having shown that we can compete, we couldnt sustain that for the whole game and actually get something out of it.
We charge £32 for a home game and there are lots of complaints about the price of the tickets. QPR charge us £31 for an away match and most of the complaints are that there arent enough tickets. Despite the fact that the average travel cost to QPR is going to be far higher.
In Harry from Baths notes (will have to read the rest later), this bit from a Boro fan stood out-
“I'm not panicking. I'm sure the club expected to be knocked back by the majority of the more audacious targets. I'm also sure that we had a contingency plan for when these players did knock us back. Just be patient.”
Just like the days when Jewell would be interested in Marvin Sordell, Billy Sharpe, Jay Rodriguez, Ricky Lambert etc. I doubt the word "contingency" was ever mentioned. Or the word "plan", for that matter.