Date:Friday February 12 2010
Do We Really Want to be Portsmouth or Man City?
As usual after a 'poor' result I expected to see the usual 'Martin O'Neill Out' posts, but I'd like to put things into perspective.
First, as pointed out by others, these 'poor' results are part of our best run for years. That we think taking only one point from Manchester United is 'poor' is evidence of progress.
We didn't play well in a footballing/attacking sense, but we are not yet in the Manchester United and Barca league and won't be for a long time yet.
It was disappointing not to keep up the football that led up to Carlos Cuellar's goal, but in the real world our play is to a large extent dictated by the quality of the opposition. We can't look at our performance in isolation; we played what is arguably one of the best teams in the world - full of class players, experience at the very top level and on a hot run.
So how many managers would turn down 4 points from ManU this season? How many times have we played out of our skins against them only to lose in extra time? Who has been frustrated that we didn't know how to 'win ugly'? I can't argue with those who suggest different substitutions would have had a different outcome, but let's face it, it's easy to criticise decisions because they have obviously gone wrong somehow - you don't criticise successes.
But in real life we can't tell whether different substitutions would have been more successful. MON could have made the changes suggested by others, only for us to ship a goal in the last minute and lose. Whether we agree or disagree, we have to judge the manager's performance on results, and our results so far this season have not been bad.
When we get to the question of squad-building and transfers, I'm excited when we're linked with top players and I'm disappointed if we don't sign them, but it irks me intensely when Villa fans pre-judge our signings before a ball has been kicked. Of course some of MON's signings have been duff - name a manager who hasn't signed duff players.
I find it hard to reconcile the flak MON took for signing Richard Dunne and James Collins with the performances they've put in. Both players were trashed before they'd even pulled on a shirt, but look at how they've played. James Milner is amazing (Gareth who?) Ash has enormous potential. Fabian Delph is a star in the making.
On the whole, I'm very happy with most of MON's signings - hands up those who would rather we'd signed Robinho? As for the pace of it all, I'm impatient too. I want the players being signed by ManC or Barca, and I want them NOW! But like the man said: be careful what you wish for ... You probably envied Portsmouth a couple of seasons ago when 'arry was signing quality players hand over fist, and how many were jealous when they won the Cup? Now ask yourself if you want RAL to bring in a high-spending manager buy rapid success.
Pompey fans do not deserve what they're going through now, so how many of us would swap MON for 'arry (or DOL), knowing what high-spenders can do to a club? Buckets of cash don't guarantee success. Was I dreaming or did that hugely expensive Man City team just lose to Hull City? And didn't Spurs, with all their elegance and 'football', just lose to Wolves? On the whole I'm more than happy with our progress and I prefer our measured pace to the sh*t-or-bust approach we see at other clubs.
So where will we end up this year? Who knows.
This may be a controversial viewpoint, but I believe it is the PLAYERS who have to step up for the remainder of the season. For all of a manager's influences - selection, tactics, substitutions, man-management, motivation - we have taken points from the best, and there is no reason the same players can't do so against lesser teams. Every game is 'difficult' in the Prem and points are hard-earned. If we have the right attitude when we're playing teams below us, we won't be far off when the season finishes.
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Date:Friday February 12 2010
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