Writer: Mike Field
Date:Tuesday April 14 2009
'It's not good enough,' is how Zat Knight has described our defending of late - which to be fair is one way of describing how we've conceeded 11 goals in 3 games!
The picture gets worse if we go further back, it's actually 24 goals conceeded in the last 10 games, and whilst there has been 3 draws in that period I've gone as far back as our last win against Blackburn on February 7th.
Speaking to the E&S Knight has admitted that the defence has looked increasingly shakey of late and that they are guilty of giving away too many soft and sloppy goals, which have effectively buggered our Champions League aspirations.
Speaking specifically about the Everton match, Zat said:
"First half defensively we weren`t at the races. Second half we showed we can be a lot better.
"It`s frustrating, especially as a defender. That`s your main aim to go out there and keep a clean sheet and if they (your strikers) don`t score at the other end that`s not our problem.
"Our problem is the back. It`s just not good enough. We haven`t had a settled back four but everyone`s played together before so I think that`s just an excuse. I don`t know what it is. If I knew what it was I`d be the manager.'
To be honest Knight should give himself more management credit. Yes the defence has suffered hugely since we lost Laursen and it's typical that Davies looks better alongside Big Mart, as does Knight but together it just doesn't seem to work. The foibles of right back at left back, left back on the subs bench, midfielder/centre half at right back in many ways were covered by the presence of Laursen and it's blown up since he's been sidelined.
As I'm in the mood for a bit of irony, since Shorey was brought back into the team the defence has looked twice as good of late and the attacks that count from the opposition have actually been more rightside/central errors. Maybe Luke is having trouble adjusting again and the centre halves just aren't used to seeing a right back in the right place? Who knows.
Zat may describe it as an excuse, but it's a big one and a very telling one. After the reorganisation for Man U to accomodate a natural left back, it's just taking us a couple of games to adapt I think.
If we look at goals from Man U and Everton we each can score off at least one in each game that should'nt have stood and the defensive display was better than that against Liverpool.
"I think from a fans` point of view it was a great game to watch, but from our point of view it was a bit disappointing to score three goals and to concede three goals.
"If we score three goals we expect to win the game, but it wasn`t to be."
The secret there is you score 3 goals at home you expect 3 points. We can talk about match changing moments, Ash's first pen shout was clear cut, second was the right result as he was slipping before contact was made, and the 3rd pen shout just depends on which Saturday you play - and Delboy could've won it to boot with his chance.
For Everton, Cahill's goal was a blatant push, Fellaini 'the Elbow' again proved why he should have a 12 match ban, Pienaar's goal was sublime and they had other chances equally.
It was a great game, and I can't be too disappointed with the score. The signs from the team were better just like against United; the defence was much improved but not there yet and the attackers have found out where the goal is again, the last thing we want is for the defence to be rotated again now.
It's been our problem all season, for the final few games let the defence stay as they are and get an understanding together.
Date:Tuesday April 14 2009
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