I had an argument on Twitter yesterday following what I perceived to be our generally poor showing in this fixture. I remarked that I felt we lacked fitness, sharpness, desire and determination, had little creativity, a confused shape and were in defensive disarray against a supposedly inferior opposition. It was my usual positive stuff, you see. ‘Nonsense’, replied my follower, ‘this game achieved its objective – fitness, match time, playing with strategy and formation, giving everyone a runout’ etc etc.
I’m not convinced.
It is at least heartening to hear Allardyce admit that he was surprised and concerned by aspects of this performance. He is right to be:
“What is important to me is our level of performance, what we are as a team, and our technique levels. That did worry me, because our technique levels were way down on our standard so I was disappointed about that.”
I’m not sure we learnt too much yesterday. Defensively, going into a season with Joey O’Brien and James Collins in the first team squad has to be a worry. Collins will cost us goals, make no mistake about, it. The second yesterday resulted directly from his missed block tackle and the collective failure of the remaining defenders to close down the attacker. We certainly didn’t learn that Carlton Cole is absolutely not a premier league striker, we knew that anyway. Quite how this player is still being paid by my football club and remains in and around the squad is totally beyond me.