Top 4 Dream Over - O'Neill's Verdict
Now the anger has subsided, all in our showing today against City wasn't too bad, but it certainly showed the difference in quality between the two teams.
Ok at points it wasn't pretty but we defended resolutely and for all their possession, the time on the ball, shots and corners we did keep them at a distance and were very comfortable almost all match.
1 class goal from Bellamy at the end was really the only time they properly tore us apart. The other 2 goals were just amaturish defending and mistakes.
The scoreline really doesn't represent the match I watched but our answer, win, lose or draw is Heskey for Carew. That's our idea.
Yeah Delboy got another run out and was bright, full of effort and did more than Gabby managed all game but by then it was over. The fat lady had sung and given we have wingers who can't cross a ball all of our effort in the final minutes of the match never truly gave you the impression we would claw the equiliser out.
But for balance there are enough crosses that go into the danger area but we have such a static forward line and our midfield plays so deep that there's usually nobody there to capitalise on the opportunities that are created.
6 of one, and half a dozen of another sadly.
Fulop was rarely tested, our crosses were that high for the most part that we couldn't even pray for a deflection. Not only were they no where near our players, they weren't near any players sadly.
Which ties nicely to O'Neill's after match verdict and the comments he seems to make every time we have lost or drawn a match we should've won this season...our effort is second to non in the main. The commitment from most of the players would rank at 110%.
You can't fault that, that's not what lets us down and it wasn't the problem today.
His comments on the match do put a favourable spin on the game obviously, but he's not completely off the mark:
'We had lots of possession and Young delivered about four fantastic balls right across the 6 yard box. But we were unable to capitalise,' he told the Official Site.
Almost an analogy for our whole season really, so close but so far away still.
The summer promises to be interesting, I don't think O'Neill shows any signs of not being here, least from his comments lately, so the question becomes how do we strengthen and can we bag ourselves that elusive striker that can turn our draws into wins?
Do we get a bench that the manager has faith in using?
Do we get a plan B and maybe some rotation, and not just the talk of it?
Do we get rid of Heskey and keep Milner and will we see the goodbye of Ashley or better still the return of the player he always promises to become?
There has been obvious strides forward this season, but in so many ways we've also stood still and not learnt from the mistakes we made last season or even to be fair from the season before that.
We can't keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result, once we learn that with the obvious strengths in the team, the spirit coupled with what has improved and with what we do right and well, then we have a chance of reaching our obvious dream of Top 4.
Until then we'll keep getting close to it, but we'll keep holding ourselves back from achieving it.