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£100 parking fine from Oxford last Tuesday
at 19:11 21 Jan 2020

Anyone else ditch their car in the Hilton car park and receive a fine? Apparently it's not accessible to football fans. Given the inadequate parking facilities (and by that i mean there were none) i've asked Oxford United to pay the bill. If you received a fine you can tap an email on to mine to help the cause; wishful thinking maybe...
[Post edited 21 Jan 19:27]
at 07:49 15 Jan 2020

He's not having a very good season is he? A wing-back isn't his natural role and he works hard at it and to be fair, his positional play has given us stability but he doesn't seem to know whether to stick or twist half the time now.

When he has the ball at his feet he seems reluctant in his ability to get by his man for fear of losing it and leaving us exposed and when he gets a cross in more often than not it's too deep or wasted. A couple of occasions last night he could of gambled knowing full well Chambers would win the header against the full back and he was flat on his heels. Can't remember the last jinking run into the box he did to commit his opponent - they tend to be into blind alleys if anything now. Ironic he got booked for probably his best full blooded tackle of the season too!

Not sure what to make of him really. Anyone else?
How many should Norwood really have...???
at 08:55 13 Jan 2020

Some people called it out after the Bolton game and questioned Norwood's finishing. Saturday was another example of it. When you watch him and Judge's shooting in the warm-up, Judge is far more clinical and when we look at the sitters Norwood has missed during the season, i think that's a fair assessment. How many should Norwood have by now though?

Peterborough x 1 - missed penalty
Bolton x 2 - 2 great 1 on 1s
Wycombe x 1 - header from 3 yards
Rovers x 1 - hit the bar from 5 yards
Accrington x 2 - a 1 on 1 and a swivel from a few yards out

Some easier chances than others but all golden opportunities to be on 17 for the season by now. Have i missed any and will these cost us?
The front three
at 21:22 11 Jan 2020

Some of their exchanges today were sublime. Norwood takes a lot of credit for some great one-touch deft lay offs to bring people into play. Each one of them could have scored 2 or 3 and bagged a few assists each. There's been a lot of commentary about our squad not being good enough but there's the proof it is now some are being given a run in their best positions. Too many superlatives to mention today.

Thought Huws took a long time to settle into the game and assist aside, showed a lack of composure at times. Wilson's penalty giveaway was a schoolboy error and his distribution wasteful at times which has been a consistent criticism this season Thought Edwards did better in the first half and Opoku got the better of him in the second half.

Same side Tuesday night. Nothing to fear at Oxford. Should be a good un.
Approach to today's game...
at 10:00 11 Jan 2020

Edwards and Garbutt are key to making this as easy on ourselves as possible. If they retain the shape they did against Wycombe and don't over commit at the wrong times, keep the width and get good balls into the box early and frequently, this should be a comfortable afternoon.

Failure to do this, play to narrow or get caught on the counter and we'll get bogged down in a scrap.

Think we're all widely agreed we should keep the same starting 11 that finished ay Wycombe bar maybe one or two tweaks. The side should pick itself really given we're at home and Wycombe was a decent-ish performance.

If Edwards and Garbutt turn up and do the above, i'm gong with a comfortable 2 or 3 nil win...
The RB curse
at 08:23 31 Dec 2019

No such thing as a curse? This season may buck that belief, surely? The worst ever full back display I saw was Tom Eastman under Keane but there have been a few. However, looking back at RB performances this season we may be on for a new season low of woeful RB displays.

I make it 8 players utilized at RB this season: Emmanuel, Nydam, Cotter, Donacien, Edwards, Skuse, Wolfenden and KVY and KVY aside, they’ve all been pretty poor performances.

Emmanuel at Luton - terrible
Cotter against Coventry - out of his depth
Skuse against Rovers - did OK but never looked comfortable and at fault for a goal
Wolfenden at Lincoln - decent showing at Southend but poor at Lincoln and at fault for a goal
Edwards on a few occasions - dreadful and a liability
Donacien against Wimbledon - terrible although has improved
Nydam - injured
KVY - injured

KVY is the only player with any real credit and he’s out for the foreseeable. Why has this position consistently been an issue for Town for a decade?
More tactical naivety...
at 21:22 29 Dec 2019

Tactical blunders are becoming a common theme, especially this month. Today we played a high press as we knew they like to play out from the back and at times we hunted in packs well but as soon as that ball went long they broke better than we could recover and we looked ragged for it. In my mind that’s because of the high press. Anyone else see it that way?
at 17:08 29 Dec 2019

I’ve been to 15 games this season and watched 5 on iFollow. There are some fundamental things in the games I’ve seen that aren't being addressed.

- Holy is better in goal than Norris.
- Dozzell is anonymous when playing in a two man midfield.
- Edwards hasn’t deserved to start and has never done anything to justify a start. He can’t tackle let alone defend.
- Judge isn’t a wide midfielder. He’s a number 10.
- Garbutt is better at left-midfield than he is at full-back.
- Norwood and Jackson play better as a pair meaning balls into them and not channels.

All of these points I’m sure would be unanimously backed by anyone who’s watched us a lot yet we persist. We’re in decline and Lambert is now on a timer.
Spare wanted for Wycombe
at 10:12 28 Dec 2019

Anyone have x 1 spare for Wycombe? The old man has decided he wants to see in the New Year witnessing PLs lucky dip eleven.
I saw that as tactically naive...
at 18:50 21 Dec 2019

I made Pompey’s line-up a 4231 and ours a 532. Beg to differ but if that’s the case, why didn’t we maintain our 433 from last week? I assume in a 532 PL wanted to utilise the width to nullify their three backing up Harrison but we moved the ball far too slowly from the off to do this. Whenever we did get it wide, Pompey closed the space - did we remedy this quickly? No.

Using a 433 our two centre backs would have taken care of Harrison, their three behind him would have a free run at our full backs but so what? We’d be outgunning Harrison in the box 2-to1 and it would have left Skuse to do what he does best, pick up their more dynamic player and mark him out the game. Nolan and Downes could then get on the front foot and compete against their defensive two which they would have had the beating of and we’d have had three on four to stretch their back line as well as acres of space to drop into on a counter to move them around.

It’s all very well in hindsight but we were on the back foot from the first whistle. I thought PL approached every game to win? The above is a better approach to winning in my view unless I completely misread Pompey’s system?
11 degrees in Portsmouth...
at 14:27 21 Dec 2019

Good job Edwards found his gloves.
Nolan is "better box-to-box"
at 18:06 18 Dec 2019

Interesting comments from Nolan saying he's "beter suited in a box-to-box role". I've been saying as much for several weeks and that either him and Dozzell should swap over or he should drop in alongside Downes and let Judge come in and do the 10 role. I wonder what PL is seeing?

Also interesting to hear that the players aren't keen on squad rotation - obviously they wouldn't be but it's only PL who is. He's not stupid though, expect a more settled side now and fringe players to go out on loan in Jan.
Should Saturday’s side now pick itself?
at 09:12 12 Dec 2019

We should for the first time be able to predict this Saturday’s side surely? Given the predicament we seem to now be facing, we have to pick our best starting eleven with players who are showing form or good understanding on the pitch irrelevant of Rovers system.

The heart of our side is Nolan, Downes and now Dozzell (or Judge in his natural position given he’s scored and got two assists recently) but after last Saturday’s first half display this has to be our midfield three. As we’re at home we have to play two up front so Norwood and Jackson start which means we play three at the back; Wilson, Wolfenden and Chambers if fit. Done don’t think this system works but it provides what we need to get our best partnerships out there.

That leaves Garbut and Donacien in the wing back roles. Donacien being the only one out there I’d consider a square peg.

That side and system should be able to see off Rovers at home and is our strongest starting line-up based on what I’ve seen this season. It also provides possible bench players, Judge, Keane, Skuse, Huws roles to slot straight into. Thoughts?
PL developing hallmarks of MM
at 21:32 10 Dec 2019

This last month, apart from a few 45 minute displays aside, has been woeful. What’s worse is that PL seems to be developing the same hall marks of one of his predecessors.

There appears to be a belligerence developing toward the rotational system even though it’s clearly becoming farcical. Team selections are even more difficult to predict than they were under MM. Why does that matter? Continuity is key to success.

Pre-match interviews have become tired and difficult to watch.

The football has become disjointed and shot shy and as bad statistically as we’ve had for a while.

Cup competitions are treated with as much contempt as they ever have been.

All in the football has been better at times but PL’s stock is plummeting, there’s no two ways about it.
Squad Members Used
at 15:38 27 Nov 2019

Here's a quick look at last season's successful side who competed on multiple fronts and how many games they played in total (not including pre-season) and how many squad members they used (according to Wikipedia and a few other sources). 

2018 / 19 - listed by least squad members used:

Liverpool: 26 | 53 games - Salah 52 appearances
Watford: 27 | 46 games - Hughes + Doucoure 40 appearances
Tranmere: 29| 58 - Davies 46 appearances
Man City: 31 | 60 games - Ederson 55 appearances 
Leeds: 32 | 51 games - Klich 49 appearances
Sunderland: 40 | 61 games - Mclaughlin 50 appearances


2019 / 20

Ipswich 33 | 23 games - Edwards + Jackson 18 appearances

We've used every fit squad member with the exception of Ndaba and Wright. Make of that what you will but thought it would be interesting to have a look at this stage of the season given a lot of ongoing discussion about the rotation system. 
[Post edited 27 Nov 2019 15:39]
Cole Skuse
at 08:00 27 Nov 2019

What’s the consensus on the forum at the moment? I was a big critic of him under MM largely because of the way MM utilized him; I always felt he had a lot more to give and should have in that role but the shackles were on. He seemed to take on a new lease of life under Hurst/PL last season until his injury and he started this season really well but of late, he seems to be going backwards and fast.

The last three or four games he’s been largely anonymous. For his ability he should be commanding that midfield every week. My biggest criticism of him is that he never bosses it. Spearing gave a better example of how to run a midfield last weekend than he has recently and last night was disappointing again. In a game where our heads had gone and it needed someone to restore order, get the ball on the deck and get us playing again, it was his time to shine but he disappeared.

Sadly, I think it’s time to look at a different combination. Downes is easily ahead of him now imo.
The balance should be a ball winner, box-to-box player and a creative midfielder.
Playing one up front
at 12:52 26 Nov 2019

There's been a mixed reaction to this. Some prefer two up top whereas some prefer the dynamism of one supported by two wider players. If we did opt for one up top moving forward and that one was understandably, Norwood, who do people think would be the best two supporting players adopting the wide roles? Assume everyone is fit.
at 19:39 23 Nov 2019

Deserves his own thread tonight. What a class act. Oozed confidence on the ball; calm and composed throughout; strong in the air and happy carrying the ball out or pull off a trick or two in the final third.

If Webster is valued at 20 million I’d like to see Wolfenden’s price tag should we go up. He’s beginning to make League One games look like training sessions.
Looking good in the warm up...
at 14:45 23 Nov 2019

Much hungrier and sharper than Blackpool in their drills - Rowe and Downes especially.
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