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at 09:37 10 Aug 2021
I love the new signings in general, very exciting, though we've left it badly late to sort out the crucial CB situation. However, while I'm pleased with the tougher approach generally, I'm uncomfortable with a number of aspects of it. The treatment of Chambers, the dumping of players in the U23s, and now the treatment of Jacobs and attempt to get Morell are all things that go against the grain. We can be tougher without being arseholes. I'm sure I'll get lots of flak but this stuff doesn't sit comfortably for me when they blather on about our history and values. Wouldn't have sat well with Sir Bobby either.
|First half: Tedium Incarnate|
at 15:55 5 Apr 2021
I know this is utter sacrilege at the moment, but I'm failing to see what difference Cook has brought to this lot. Still the same lack of shots on goal, the same poor passing and tackling and endless passing backwards to the backs to fiddle about with the ball in our half. If they can do it at the likes of Blackpool and Portsmouth, why not here? Everyone keeps blaming the players, but I see no new positive energy in the second halves, no great changes of tactics or substitutions; please, Paul Cook, make a difference this second half.
at 20:38 6 Feb 2021
I believe it was Kenlock today who unlocked Judge and sent him and us on the way to our win. He's been playing really well for several games now, but he's a classic example of a younger player given a huge amount of stick on here when he's been struggling. We really should lay off these younger guys, because ultimately the reason why they're not playing well is down to the Manager. I recall Herb referring to him in damning terms as 'not a professional player'.Well, he's not the greatest player in the world but recently he's been a distinct improvement on the vastly more experienced Ward. Not bad for an amateur.
|Crisis in refereeing|
at 17:48 7 Nov 2020
However poor, negative, safe and backwards-thinking we may have been, there is a real crisis in the standard of refereeing at this level. The EFL needs urgently to get a grip on this, though that is highly unlikely.
|Ifollow is c**p|
at 21:59 2 Nov 2020
Anyone else been having problems with Ifollow? In particular, having paid my £10, I couldn't get on to the Doncaster match until someone advised me to buy another ticket - it worked but only after missing 37' of the game. I complained to the Club, who've been lovely and said they would take it up with Ifollow due to the numbers of fans experiencing problems, but that I had to go to Ifollow. Nearly 2 weeks later I've had nothing but automated responses from Ifollow. I've now written to the EFL but don't rate my chances of a response. And that says nothing for the shoddy single camera-work.
|The great Maggi Hambling|
at 09:41 25 Oct 2020
Fine film last night on BBC2 about the great Suffolk gal Maggi Hambling. Cheered me up (a bit).
at 11:30 27 Sep 2020
There have been many on here who have heavily criticised Lambert - often quite rightly - but for now at least he seems to have tackled many of the mistakes he made last season. The rotation system has been abandoned for a settled team; the consistent 4-3-3-3 formation suits the players picked and gives a good balance; he's found a role for Dozzell and is getting the best out of him, as well as Bishop and Nolan. It will take longer than these few games to make a proper assessment but I think we should acknowledge what he has addressed. There are still issues in defence despite the record so far (is Nisiala really so great? Chambers is surely not our permanent RB and then what?) and most of our goals come from midfield rather than the central strikers, but we are genuinely playing some lovely football at times. There is a long-term management issue to be faced over Chambers (he's a fine leader but a very average player and there are better players now ahead of him), but we also have a squad of players with the right blend of age and youth who have the quality to get out of this division. I just wish he'd stop using the words 'brilliant' and 'incredible' to describe us in post-match interviews....we're not there yet by any means.
at 14:49 30 Dec 2019
I see all this talk about formations, systems, individual players but just one look at those highlights show that the entire defence and midfield seem to have no obvious understanding of the basic art of tackling. I know we're probably not supposed to mention an England player who we picked up from Cheltenham Town but Mings really understood how and where to tackle well, indeed in many cases to get the ball while clattering the man shortly afterwards. No-one in this team seems to get it, bar maybe Downes and Skuse. The team badly needs to get back to some basic skills. And then settle on our best 11 and squad of 18.
at 10:07 23 Nov 2019
I've pretty much given up posting on here and only occasionally dip in but unless I've missed something I'm surprised not to see more comment on poor old Jason and his troubles. So I just wanted to say good on you for opening up about it all and the very best of luck with everything you do, Jason. Very sorry to hear about it, but I'm sure you're on the road to recovery now and I'm sure all of us will be wishing you all the very best.
at 17:04 1 Jan 2019
Are we allowed to start criticising Lambert yet? He's said and done a lot of good things, but he's stuck with this defence pretty much throughout until he realised Knudsen was off, not tried any real alternatives or alternative formations, stuck with Gerken, and fiddled about with other positions to no avail. Today he draws attention to himself ranting on the touchline, looks like he panicked in taking off Chalobah, and fails to hold what we had or even build on it. Yes, the squad generally is poor, but this is actually no better than Hurst, there has been no significant improvement under PL after something like 11 games.
at 12:26 30 Dec 2018
I think Lambert's been in charge for something like 10 games now. While I think he's been right to pick a consistent team and pretty much stick to it, I worry that he seems incapable of turning things round in a game. Have any of his substitutions made any difference? At half-time at QPR with us 2-0 down and heads down, I thought he'd make some changes. He didn't do anything till Ward got injured in the 62nd minute. I like the way he puts an attacking set of players on the bench, such a difference from MM, but it's how he uses them. He's also never tried to revert from his formation - given the issues with the full-backs, he might have tried 3-5-2 for example, where Knudsen has played quite well. Of course, this may be simply down to the lack of quality in the squad, but I just wonder whether he'll be flexible enough within games to turn us around.
at 20:45 26 Dec 2018
This guy was absolutely abysmal today. Made mistake after mistake, missed so much on and off the ball. The standard of refereeing in the Championship is pretty poor generally, but Stroud takes the biscuit. A Premier League reject, he should be striding purposefully as fast as his trotters can take him to the Vanarama League.
|Chambers' idea that this team is better than the one Mick inherited|
at 19:25 3 Nov 2018
Sounds like lots of positives today, but also a lot of work for Lambert to do. Chambers' notion that this squad is better than the one Mick inherited, though, is well wide of the mark. You look at the team that beat Birmingham 6 years ago and it was chocca not only with talent but, crucially, experience. With Stephen Henderson in goal, Danny Higginbotham, Carlos Edwards, Cresswell, N'Daw, and two proper strikers in Daryl Murphy and DJ Campbell, not to mention those on the bench, that was a team that just needed confidence and a decent formation to start picking up points. I'm sure Lambert will sort it out but clearing up after Hurst will mean the January window will be really important.
|Hurst: The question-marks|
at 19:37 2 Sep 2018
So we're 7 games in to the season (including Exeter). Opinion on here seems to have moved from allowing judgements after 5-6 games to 10-12 games now, so perhaps this thread should summarise what we might call 'question-marks', especially as players incredibly are still coming in.
I should say that I fully support Hurst, I like a lot of what he says, and we're getting more positive entertaining and aspirational football than under Mick, and I think the football will get better and better. But the questions remain.
Hurst has brought in more than a full team's worth of players while losing 3-4 key people (not his fault) but there has to be a question over whether he has brought in quantity over quality and inevitably caused greater confusion as to what his best team is.
Bart is a shadow of his former self, our two-yearly Player Of The Year. This may well be mainly his own fault, perhaps a lack of adaptability, perhaps a hangover from the World Cup, but does Hurst also need to shoulder at least some of the responsibility?
Both Donacien (unlucky to be left out today) and Nsiala look like good acquisitions, but the CH problem that was exacerbated by the selling of Webster is still an issue. Pennington looks a fine addition but as a loan who I think is unlikely to be bought, he is short-term sticking plaster over a quite major issue for the team. Collins would be an even shorter-term temporary addition. Hurst has had to spend long long hours on this problem and it doesn't look solved. In addition, Chambers isn't getting any better, opinions are mixed about Knudsen, and as Lord Harry has pointed out they seem to have taken longer to adapt to the new style and system.
With all this in mind, there has to be a question over why Emmanuel has been deemed better off at Shrewsbury for the season in order to get games (having been Rotherham's Young Player Of The Year last season) while Kenlock instead sits warming the bench?
Furthermore, given all this, was the decision to make the highly talented Chalobah a midfielder when he seems to have been known primarily as a CH a good idea?
We have been over-loaded with too many central midfielders for a long time now, but was the decision to send a number of our younger talents out on loans and bring in others a useful strategy at this stage? Perhaps too early to say. But there has to be a doubt about Nolan in particular given his importance to the team (and Hurst), and based on his performances thus far.
The point about bringing in wingers was an entirely right and positive one and Edwards in particular looks a fantastic signing. But the jury has to be out on Roberts and Graham too.
Similarly Harrison and Jackson have failed so far to light up the League and don't look entirely comfortable as the isolated striker. However, Walters is a wonderfully exciting acquisition who may just make the difference in making this system work up front and become a hero all over again. His experience is important too given the number of players who have limited experience above League 1.
I really really hope Hurst has the answer to all these issues.
Anyway, the only way is up, and I believe that will be achieved. However, the number of loans now in place - short-term solutions - reflects the fact that in spite of this fresh strategy brought in by Hurst, the fundamental problem is the lack of larger funding invested by the owner - not only on the team BTW, but also on the maintenance and upkeep of Portman Road and its services. Put simply, we are a club that continues to sell is best players. Without that greater investment, I cannot see us ever getting promotion from this Division.
|Last night's Ref|
at 22:44 15 Aug 2018
Just for people's information, a number of us were disturbed to find that the referee last night not only had a string of bad press reviews but came from Devon and had local connections. So I wrote to the Football League. This was their reply:
'PGMOL operates an appointments policy based on a Referee's integrity, not where he comes from. In this sense, Devon is a large county, like others such as Cumbria and Lancashire, and referees can often travel over 40/50 miles and still be in same or nearby County. In this sense it would be entirely impractical to appoint referees around the country making them travel long hours than are necessary.
There are a number of integrity measures upheld constantly. For example, each Referee is excluded from any Club where he, or a family member has an affiliation or support that Club, or he has had any connection with that Club (e.g. played in the academy, or was a supporter in the past).
We can confirm that the appointed referee has no connection with Exeter City or Ipswich Town and as such was eligible to do the game.'
I asked them further about his apparent lack of fitness (he had been described as 'unfit and overweight' in a previous press review, so I watched him and indeed he spent much of his time in the middle third of the pitch, jogging or walking in and out of the centre circle). They gave me a 'contextual' response:
'The performances of all officials are constantly monitored by way of club and match observer, match videos or DVD and footage received by the referee coaches. Matches are also analysed by the Referees' Manager, a referees’ coach and the referee and, despite the perception of some, match officials are most accountable for their performances and these can impact on future appointments.
Ultimately, referees in the modern game are scrutinised more closely than ever before, whether by their coach, match assessors or Referees’ manager, to ensure integrity is maintained at all times.
PGMOL appoint referees with this criteria in mind and all referees train, and progress their careers by ensuring integrity is maintained at all times. Fitness tests are conducted throughout the season and in terms of ongoing referee improvements, the emphasis is on the development of referees and refereeing standards. The match assessor is asked to appraise the referee’s performance against the following competencies;
• Application of the Laws of the Game and disciplinary control
• Management of the games and players
• Fitness, positioning and movements.'
I'm sure all this is true, though this ref did enough to wind up Winder sufficiently to give him a yellow card; and it doesn't quite explain his extraordinary record of Exeter having won all the games he's officiated involving them.
But having said that, we deserved to lose anyway!
at 00:20 15 Aug 2018
I like a lot of what Hurst says and am pleased he's been so frank about the players. But, to be honest, work-rate and fitness are not really the key aspect of the problem. The key aspect is quality. Chalobah and Edun were the two quality players who stood out today, even though they faded in the second half, and Edun's superb run led to our goal. We had four lower league players in the team tonight and it showed. No-one, including Nolan, could deliver a defence-splitting pass. Which is why his thinking about possibly sending the likes of Dozzell on loan really worries me. And of the strikers I've seen so far, Morris, albeit in a brief period, has been the most impressive. Hurst has spent his time in the lower leagues where work-rate and fitness can count for a lot. But going forward, having lost two top-quality players, he's going to need to look for that quality elsewhere. Loans are a short-term fix, making our brighter youngsters fit and strong and playing them is likely to yield better results for the club long-term. We need quality, not quantity.
|A dose of realism|
at 19:56 4 Aug 2018
Today is way too early to be making specific judgements on players.
In the chatroom I got into a minor spat with Libero when I pointed out that as long as we keep selling our best players (eg Webster & Waghorn) we can never make real progress. By that I mean reaching the PL and staying there.
Ironically, Ive just bumped into someone who used to be involved with the Bristol City board, is a City fan and (incidentally) a long-term friend of Russell Osman. He was moaning that Steve Lansdown never quite spends enough to push City the extra mile. I said he should advise ME!
The point is this: I'm absolutely delighted to have Hurst, mostly what he says and does makes absolute sense to me, and he's made such a difference already to this lovely club. But I cannot see us making the progress we all would really want (and would put this club on a sounder financial footing) unless ME is prepared to spend quite a bit more. Not the ludicrous spending of Keane days - but more, considerably more than he spends now.
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