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Ray

Second best Goal Difference, but this means what?

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That sounds OK but at 16 Newcastle’s goal difference is double ours and at 18 our goals conceded are twice that of Brighton and Huddersfield and we are second in goals scored, one behind Newcastle on 26, 9 more than Brighton and 12 more than Huddersfield.

What exactly does all this mean and what exactly is it a reflection of?

I’m not sure I can answer that, however it does appear for us to score goals we have to concede them, or is it for us to concede goals we have to score them??

Are we too gung ho, possibly, do we lack game management skills, possibly, are we great when it comes to creating chances and converting them, possibly, are we awful at defending, possibly, or is it a combination of all the aforementioned.

Personally I think we are doing well, but given the quality of our squad, could do a lot better and I have some sympathy with the; We are where we are despite the manager thread, that said the players really need to accept some responsibility, but, if they are told to do a thing then assuming they are going to carry out orders, they will do it. I can but assume Pinto for example, was told to keep bombing forward both last Saturday and last night once we were 2 – 0 up, because the Rotherham goal and the second goal last night were pretty much as a result of him being caught up-field and leaving a space at RB, which was exploited on both occasions. Is he responsible, well only if he has been told to stay back and ignored the instruction, otherwise no and the responsibility lays elsewhere.

I do have some concern(s) as most of you will know, but an example of what I consider an area that could be addressed is as follows; if we are going to play Jacob M on the right, who is still learning about defensive requirements, then perhaps having Pinto bombing on should be used more sparingly, but then do we score as many? There are other areas I believe could be improved, but as I often say, what do I know?

Whilst it is in essence a simple game, it is also a ‘funny ol’ game’, I’m not sure I have the answers to the questions I pose, but then I don’t get paid £000’s per week to solve the conundrum.

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I''m no expert, but i''m guessing that it means that we score a lot more than we concede, which over the course of the season means we will win more than we lose & gain a fairly big amount of points

Also 7 of those were in 2 games (Newcastle/Birmingham) - take away those 2 games & we have conceded 11 in 11, scoring 23 in those 11 games - averaging 1 a game conceded, over 2 a game scored

Look at Ipswich - they have only conceded 9 goals all season, but only scored 10...

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Goal difference is great, but only makes a difference once in a blue moon.

It remains all about points won, one defeat in 9 games says that while we may concede we are do score more than we need so we should carry on as we are esp given most teams simply try to make it hard for us.

what is more worrying is the ability we have to wobble when ahead - 4 times in 2016 losing a two goal league (is that a record) is a trait we need to lose and a team not just a defensive issue.

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It''s surely a question of balance. Whichever way you look at it, we are second in the table with second best goal difference, so on balance things look ok, but if we want to finish top, we do need to improve - no question.  So looking at it positively, AN is doing ok, the team are doing ok, but we can improve. Imo it is better to be in the frame of mind that says "can do better" rather than "we are the best".  The first one means we will always strive to be better, the second is more likely to lead to complacency. We are only as good as our league position - and that shows we are not the best....yet.

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Newcastle have way more funds than us, a better squad and a Champions League manager.

If we want to finish top, we need to do a bit more than ''balance'' things. Unless you mean also balance the 10''s of millions they''ve spent and could spend in January.

Reality is, we''re doing very well. When the transfer window closed the same old posters claimed we had a midtable squad with our strikeforce etc etc. In fact, I had that exact argument with a couple on here yet they couldn''t come up with 8 teams better than us, but hey ho.

Our squad hasn''t changed, yet the same posters are now endulging in wet dreams regarding the possibility of being able to moan and criticise. So now we''re second we''re under performing and the manager is holding us back.

3 months ago the squad wasn''t good enough. Now they''ve been proven good enough the manager isnt good enough? Maybe the manager has given them the boost to be good enough? Maybe they were always good enough and so was the manager?

It''s frustrating throwing away leads but the attacking football we''re playing does lend itself to that on occasion. It happened under Lambert too, y''know.

I find it hard to sympathise with these posters because Ray''s reason for us losing is that we didn''t adjust and still had Pinto bombing forward.

Jims ''despite the manager'' thread last night said we sat back way too much and invited the pressure.

Which one is it?

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Some reasoned replies but hogesar probably sums it up best with "Which one is it?" but btw hogesar we didn''t lose, we won and we drew, but may be we should have won by more against Rotherham and won last night, who wants to be a manager eh! Rhetorical question as given what I write and read on here the vast majority of us think we could be!

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last night needed howson but unfortunately he was unavailable. at 2-1 up he would have come on as opposed to naisy and we would have seen that game out.

I think we need to believe in ourselves more. we seem to go into our shell the moment the opposition puts pressure on. at times it seems like it''s Klose vs the opposition. I don''t think our midfield strength lies in discipline and defending either but then I wouldn''t sacrifice the attacking strengths for the more defensive side.

to me it seems a balance/psychological thing. similar to how it was under Adams but with a better attack to mostly cover our softer shell.

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"do we lack game management skills"

what might they be (other than a meaningless cliche) ?

if any team possessed them then they would not lose, or even concede a goal

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Not sure I agree about Howson TJ.

He is an important starter for us and if fit I would probably have started him ahead of Jacob.

However he has been part of wobbles in the past and is as prone to drifting in and out of games as most of our squad. Would he bring extra leadership? Maybe but again we dont see a lot of the geeing up of players on pitch from him.

it is a genuine conundrum.

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It means adapting your style of play according to the state of the game. So if you are winning two nil away from home you stop bombing your full backs forward and look to catch the opposition on the break because they have to score to avoid defeat.

It also means slowing the game down by keeping possession in non-threatening areas like across the midfield and near to the corners.

We aren''t good at this IMO.

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So if we stop bombing our full backs forward at 2-0 what do we do when we have the ball. How do we change the set up of a side picked with players to play with pressing full backs? Won''t we just be defending our box and praying?

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Hi Nutty,

I would then play a strict 4 - 5 -1, frustrate the life out of the oppo and possibly catch them on the break. Full backs are initially selected to defend, if you don''t want them to do that then you may as well select two wingers on each side? I wouldn''t necessarily change personnel initially but revert to Plan B (as outlined) and should the need occur revert back to Plan A or even Plan C.

Mourinho did it on Monday, albeit he went there not to lose, great to watch? No, but...

Does any plan guarantee success, of course not but it may just tip things in our favour slightly, would I do it after 10 minutes, probably not cos you''ve got them on the run if you''re 2 - 0 up by then, so press home the advantage, it''s all a balancing act I guess.

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I agree that full backs prime role is to defend?

Do we think Pinto or Olsson are good enough defenders or disciplined enough to play that role?

They are great to watch as attacker, but imo their defending lacks focus and awareness.

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Hello Ray
I get what you''re saying but after Hughton the club told us they''d listened to the fans and would play "the Norwich way" in future. To this end the signings made since then have been made with this in mind. Those players then train every week to play in this wonderful "Norwich way". Now I think there''s very little difference in the end result whether we play the Hughton way or this so called Norwich way. But I do think the players would be less effective playing in a role alien to them. I''m guessing this season we''ll finish where we deserve to. If we''re the best side we''ll be top. second best then second etc. The only way to better that would be to get more from the group of players and maybe the answer to that is in your realm of expertise.
Now I need a favour Ray. Please could you help us out on Rays Funds by picking the Norwich match selections for the game at Brighton on 29th October? I''d love it if you could.

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The table says we''re the second best team in the league so far.

That''s about it really!

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Hi Nutty,

I would venture to suggest that if they have reached the dizzy heights they have then these players must surely be able to play more than on way, and if not why not? Surely they should be able to adapt to a style during the game and hopefully they train more than one scenario, again if not why not?

I agree, imo, currently the whole is not greater than the sum of the parts, in fact it could be argued it is even less than the sum of the parts and I firmly believe our ability to perform at an even higher level lies in solving that conundrum.

In answer to your ''favour'' request; of course I will, would you be kind enough to remind me what is required from me.

Cheers

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[quote user="Ray"]Hi Nutty,

I would venture to suggest that if they have reached the dizzy heights they have then these players must surely be able to play more than on way, and if not why not? Surely they should be able to adapt to a style during the game and hopefully they train more than one scenario, again if not why not?

I agree, imo, currently the whole is not greater than the sum of the parts, in fact it could be argued it is even less than the sum of the parts and I firmly believe our ability to perform at an even higher level lies in solving that conundrum.

In answer to your ''favour'' request; of course I will, would you be kind enough to remind me what is required from me.

Cheers[/quote]
You have huge confidence in the ability of our players Ray. You''re a man after my own heart! But don''t forget an eminent sage on here earlier today called me "king of the happy clappers" a crown I''m proud to wear and one you will not wrestle from me without a fight.
I think the players on the pitch last night would find it difficult to change mid-game to two banks staying behind the ball shutting up shop. I guess if the subs were used tactically at half-time to enable that it would just about be possible if we went : -
Martin Bennett Klose Olsson
Pinto Tetty Thompson Dorrans Brady
Jerome or Oliveira
But it would be inviting pressure with no real outlet.
Carrying on with the comparison I made to the way Hughton set up his teams would also be unable to cahnge mid-game when they were 0-2 down. But it is worth saying that after we had conceded two last night and got ourselves back in the game either side could have won at the death.
I''ll contact you with the details for 29th Ray and thank you for saying yes.
 

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[quote user="Ray"]Hi Nutty,

I would then play a strict 4 - 5 -1, frustrate the life out of the oppo and possibly catch them on the break. Full backs are initially selected to defend, if you don''t want them to do that then you may as well select two wingers on each side? I wouldn''t necessarily change personnel initially but revert to Plan B (as outlined) and should the need occur revert back to Plan A or even Plan C.

Mourinho did it on Monday, albeit he went there not to lose, great to watch? No, but...

Does any plan guarantee success, of course not but it may just tip things in our favour slightly, would I do it after 10 minutes, probably not cos you''ve got them on the run if you''re 2 - 0 up by then, so press home the advantage, it''s all a balancing act I guess.[/quote]Two comments: 
(1) as I see it, "full backs are initially selected to defend" precisely reflects the mindset we all need to discard as outdated, every bit as outdated as "a No.9 is initially selected to score goals". Every player in the team has defensive responsibility, just as every player (including the goalkeeper) has a part to play in mounting attacks. We need to stop thinking in terms of "defenders", "forwards", attacking midfielders", "defensive midfielders" etc. and instead think of players'' roles when in possession and players'' roles when possession is lost. 
(2) the other thing we all need to learn to do is appreciate and enjoy watching well-fought tactical battles, such as was played out at Anfield on Monday. In my book one of the most gripping and enthralling matches last season was our (ultimately fruitless in terms of points) rear-guard battle against Man City at the Etihad. Does "good to watch" have to mean end-to-end, all out, throw-everything-you''ve-got-at-them style attacking? No (and I don''t really believe you think so either Ray!) 

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Westcoast,

1) I agree but disagree, yep defending and attacking are the responsibility of the entire team, however there is a reason McGovern plays in goal and that''s because he is better at it than the other 10, extreme example I know but the same applies all over the pitch. So when I say full backs are initially select to defend, perhaps I should have said, they are selected because their defensive capabilities are better than the other team members, it doesn''t mean however that they should not attack but that defending is their prime responsibility.

2) I agree watching well fought out tactical battles are superb to watch and the Chelsea v Barcelona games of a few years back were brilliant, albeit Chelsea were outplayed in terms of possession, they weren''t out thought nor were they beaten, quite the opposite. I''m one of those guys who can watch a 5 day test match when there appears to be very little going on, but if you know and love the game then it is fascinating. All that said I would rather watch a game of ''scintillating'' football, as long as we win of course!

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@Ray
Yes Pinto is in there because he''s better in that position than the others, but that still doesn''t mean his prime responsibility is to defend. His prime responsibility is to do everything required of him playing in the position assigned to him in the team structure. I accept that playing a back four places MORE of a defensive responsibility on him than if he were playing as a wing back ahead of three at the back, but that still doesn''t mean his his primary duty is to defend; it''s to defend when defending is necessary and to attack when appropriate etc. etc. 
Seeing the full back''s primary duty as being to defend is uncomfortably close if not identical to seeing defending as the role of the back four. It invites the sort of midfield mindset that, as you say, has proved our Achilles heel season after season in both the EPL and Championship. LDC''s observation about Tettey and Dorrans jogging back, leaving the defending to others, suggests precisely such a mindset. 
Unlike virtually everyone else on this board, I see the priority as being to strengthen our midfield. The experience of the past several seasons suggests to me that your confidence in the ability of our players to adapt to different playing styles and requirements is misplaced. We need, as a minimum, a more disciplined upgrade on Tettey, and a defensively better-versed distributor and ball-carrier than either Dorrans or Howson (not to mention better protection for the full-backs from the midfielders in front of them). If Martin and Klose had proper protection, both from attacks through the centre and from wide, we''d soon see an end to the sniping at RM and a better appreciation of his onfield virtues.

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Westy, the way I see it is that there''s two ways of winning a football match. One is to score more than the opposition and the other is to concede less than the opposition. Hughton''s philosophy was the second. Alex Neil''s appears to be the first. There''s no doubt that a lot of posters on this message board always seem to want the philosophy we''re not using. I thought that was because winning was ultimately the deciding factor but obviously that''s not the case this season. I hope Neil sticks with the current philosophy, even though sometimes we won''t score more than the opposition, because if for no other reason we''ve signed players to play in this way.
As for the PL. Well last season Alex carried on trying to outscore the opposition with mixed results. Then he changed after Newcastle and tried to concede less. It worked for a while but was less exciting to watch. We will be cannon fodder in that league whatever philosophy we lose until we have a team good enough to consistently get results using one of them. I see the club addressing this by trying to keep together players good enough to get promoted whilst investing in youth for the future either to play as part of the budget or sell to fund the manager with a bigger budget. 

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@nutty
Your dichotomy is seductive but ignores a salient fact, namely that there is a relationship between your chances of winning through scoring more goals than the opposition and your liability to concede. It isn''t really one or the other at all. Yes, you win if you outscore the opposition, but there are well-established stats showing just how difficult it is to win like that if you also concede, and it gets progressively more difficult the more you concede. So if you concede two and have to score three you have upped the ante against winning compared to if you concede only one and have to score two, and so on. Hence the value of keeping clean sheets; keep a clean sheet and you win if you score just once. Furthermore, if you keep a clean sheet you get a point even if you fail to score. The strategy of prioritising scoring over defensive solidity is the last resort of the defensively inept. 

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That is true. And maybe my post suggested the two philophies are poles apart when really it''s just an emphasis either way. However there''s absolutely no point in spending millions on a player with Pinto''s qualities and then not using them.

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[quote user="westcoastcanary"]@nutty
Your dichotomy is seductive but ignores a salient fact, namely that there is a relationship between your chances of winning through scoring more goals than the opposition and your liability to concede. It isn''t really one or the other at all. Yes, you win if you outscore the opposition, but there are well-established stats showing just how difficult it is to win like that if you also concede, and it gets progressively more difficult the more you concede. So if you concede two and have to score three you have upped the ante against winning compared to if you concede only one and have to score two, and so on. Hence the value of keeping clean sheets; keep a clean sheet and you win if you score just once. Furthermore, if you keep a clean sheet you get a point even if you fail to score. The strategy of prioritising scoring over defensive solidity is the last resort of the defensively inept. 
[/quote]Perhaps... just perhaps it is the nature of the way you play to score that you leave yourself vunerable to letting in goals.To suggest that somehow you can play like the binners and win regularly is ridiculous.What usually dictates how you play is usua;;y the squad you have agaunst the opposition squad.The idea that City with a very strong squad should defend at all cost is absurd.

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Westcoast,

I think we are waging peace on each other and it is semantics that are the issue., To keep this as short as poss, yes I agree it is the responsibility of all to defend and some are naturally better at it than others, which is why they are no doubt selected as the back line. I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment that we don''t actually defend as well as we should do as a team, picking up runners, protecting the wide position, etc. and this is I suppose is a reflection of our midfield performance. That is not to say it is a reflection of the ability of the players, perhaps more how we set up and what they are told is required of them.

It is not beyond the capabilities of footballers or managers to adjust to a completely different game plan, just look at Man Utd on Monday and tonight and surely this can be achieved during a game, if not then I really do have concerns about our playing and coaching staff.

Finally, I agree improvements are needed for next year in the Prem, can this be achieved with our current squad, I don''t know but I''m certain they can improve on current performances.

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