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Jim Smith

It is and always has been about the midfield

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It was last time we were up and its the same again this time. Yes Sargent is hopeless and Tzolis is not ready but fundamentally we don't have a strong enough or creative enough midfield mix and its bizarre, having cited the need for more athletic players, that Webber has assembled the most powderpuff set of midfielders I can ever recall and probably, when judged against its peers in the same division, the worst set of midfield options in the division. There is no proper defensive midfielder and there is no creative playmaker who can dictate tempo and pick a through ball. 

I sat there at Charlton yesterday, watching another god awful performance and our midfield trio being bullied for long spells by a league 1 team. I had high hopes for Sorensen to help in that CDM position and he may improve given a run of games but so far him playing there hasn;t worked as I would have hoped. Kenny was reasonable, he often is and I can never fault his effort. PLM was absolutely appalling and so far as i can see adds nothing at all to our team. He is tall but weak and lightweight and should have also been taken off at half time.

Perhaps Gilmour, Normann and Kenny if played regularly together would have been vaguely passable (and Gilmour playing further forward could maybe be the creative option) but its still lightweight and if Webber does not address this issue as a matter of urgency now during this window then its pretty unforgiveable. At leats one, maybe two midfielders are needed urgently. 

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Couldn't agree more Jim. But I think the main issue is that Emi made us look far better than we actually were. Not just with his talent but with the tempo he set which the other players seemed to respond to. When he went we were left with, at best, an ordinary Championship team. 

We definitely need an Emi replacement but we probably sold him on the cheap at £33m so don't build your hopes up. I'm already resigned to a difficult year in the Championship next season. 

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You don’t think poor defensive positioning and goalkeeping errors have anything to do with it?  I suppose it depends what ‘it’ is.

To me football is all about the whole - when you’re conceding it isn’t just about the defence and when not scoring it isn’t just about the strikers, it’s all of it. 

Edited by Branston Pickle

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We lost Skipp and Emi and that was in the championship, we haven't got close to replacing them.

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33 minutes ago, dylanisabaddog said:

Couldn't agree more Jim. But I think the main issue is that Emi made us look far better than we actually were. Not just with his talent but with the tempo he set which the other players seemed to respond to. When he went we were left with, at best, an ordinary Championship team. 

We definitely need an Emi replacement but we probably sold him on the cheap at £33m so don't build your hopes up. I'm already resigned to a difficult year in the Championship next season. 

Emi was good in last season but it wasn't about him last time in prem. It's a bigger problem and more quality and replacements needed.

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11 minutes ago, Branston Pickle said:

You don’t think poor defensive positioning and goalkeeping errors have anything to do with it?  I suppose it depends what ‘it’ is.

To me football is all about the whole - when you’re conceding it isn’t just about the defence and when not scoring it isn’t just about the strikers, it’s all of it. 

I agree. Which is why had we sorted the midfield out the defence would look better and we'd also be scoring more goals. Its about shape of the team and players also having the confidence in what is around them (e.g. if they go forward there is someone to cover, centre backs not being exposed 1 on 1 so often etc). Skipp was really the glue that held our team together in the champ and Emi the creativity. 

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WE were very fortunate Dean Smith yesterday brought on our goal scorer and his provider as we were going up the hill 'huffin' an' a puffin' backwards......Otherwise people's keyboards last night and this morning would still be aflame.....

It's so frustrating to having witnessed our deficiency's and weaknesses two season's ago....and yet?.....No improvement....I mean we're all keyboard expert football managers but you need variety and quality in the squad - and for the life of me it's worse than the 2019/20 squad....Yeah our midfield is lacking in many areas.....

I just really hope we don't get hammered by the Hammers on Wednesday, and if we unfortunately  lose against the Toffee's on Saturday?

I personally think things will turn rather ugly....starting with dissension in the stands....

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If we don't buy in a DM who will sit, break up, pass it short and snarl then I honestly think this season gets gradually worse and worse.

It's criminal that we don't have at least two or three of these types in the squad ... we actually have ZERO!!!

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The midfield is a real problem with a real lack of defensive midfield options.     An injury free Normann is a good signing,   but there rest are so desperate that Rupp now looks like the best of the rest.    There is a timing issue with players needing time to adapt to the EPL tempo & or bought for a longer term investment eg 19yo Tzolis.  PLM simply hasnt lived up  to expectations and Gilmour is better than the moans but not quite the player we needed.     Add in a change of formation,  an over playing of lord mayors new clothes Kenny (who has always been out of his depth in the prem) and its easy to see why we are being over run and defensively inept.

 

However we must not overlook the failure to address the CB issue over the last 3 seasons.   The experienced pair (Hanley and Gibson) are positionally poor and, like Kenny, simply not good enough for the prem - the £8m spent this summer on Gibson at his age seems as much a waste of money as any other summer signing.    They are solid champs cbs but there has barely been a good performance from either of them this season with errors of passing and positioning every game.    Add in injuries and constant changing of pairings this crucial position needing stability and consistency is a weak base to the side.    Omo & Kabak are young,  inexperienced and full of potential but are feeding off the anxieties and lack of confidence from those around them.

 

These weaknesses undermine the attacking output too,  increasing the pressure on the strikers when a rare chance does come along. 

 

While we persevere with the like of Kenny, Hanley and Gibson we are doomed to continue to concede too many goals at this level.             

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8 minutes ago, ZLF said:

The midfield is a real problem with a real lack of defensive midfield options.     An injury free Normann is a good signing,   but there rest are so desperate that Rupp now looks like the best of the rest.    There is a timing issue with players needing time to adapt to the EPL tempo & or bought for a longer term investment eg 19yo Tzolis.  PLM simply hasnt lived up  to expectations and Gilmour is better than the moans but not quite the player we needed.     Add in a change of formation,  an over playing of lord mayors new clothes Kenny (who has always been out of his depth in the prem) and its easy to see why we are being over run and defensively inept.

 

However we must not overlook the failure to address the CB issue over the last 3 seasons.   The experienced pair (Hanley and Gibson) are positionally poor and, like Kenny, simply not good enough for the prem - the £8m spent this summer on Gibson at his age seems as much a waste of money as any other summer signing.    They are solid champs cbs but there has barely been a good performance from either of them this season with errors of passing and positioning every game.    Add in injuries and constant changing of pairings this crucial position needing stability and consistency is a weak base to the side.    Omo & Kabak are young,  inexperienced and full of potential but are feeding off the anxieties and lack of confidence from those around them.

 

These weaknesses undermine the attacking output too,  increasing the pressure on the strikers when a rare chance does come along. 

 

While we persevere with the like of Kenny, Hanley and Gibson we are doomed to continue to concede too many goals at this level.             

We wouldn't have been able to get Gibson to help us out of the Championship without an obligation to buy though.

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22 minutes ago, ZLF said:

The midfield is a real problem with a real lack of defensive midfield options.     An injury free Normann is a good signing,   but there rest are so desperate that Rupp now looks like the best of the rest.    There is a timing issue with players needing time to adapt to the EPL tempo & or bought for a longer term investment eg 19yo Tzolis.  PLM simply hasnt lived up  to expectations and Gilmour is better than the moans but not quite the player we needed.     Add in a change of formation,  an over playing of lord mayors new clothes Kenny (who has always been out of his depth in the prem) and its easy to see why we are being over run and defensively inept.

 

However we must not overlook the failure to address the CB issue over the last 3 seasons.   The experienced pair (Hanley and Gibson) are positionally poor and, like Kenny, simply not good enough for the prem - the £8m spent this summer on Gibson at his age seems as much a waste of money as any other summer signing.    They are solid champs cbs but there has barely been a good performance from either of them this season with errors of passing and positioning every game.    Add in injuries and constant changing of pairings this crucial position needing stability and consistency is a weak base to the side.    Omo & Kabak are young,  inexperienced and full of potential but are feeding off the anxieties and lack of confidence from those around them.

 

These weaknesses undermine the attacking output too,  increasing the pressure on the strikers when a rare chance does come along. 

 

While we persevere with the like of Kenny, Hanley and Gibson we are doomed to continue to concede too many goals at this level.             

This is why I love football so much. I agree with much of this but not about Hanley.

I think we have solved the CB position but they are never all fit. Hanley is our best "defender" by a country mile. Again yesterday he was the one blocking, pulling, kicking, heading. He needs Omobamidele alongside him for mobility and speed. Kabak has the turning circle of the QE2 and completely loses his position; he will never, ever be a decent PL standard CB. He is more likely to move forward to be a  CDM and that is where I would play him, in a kind of 5 at the back but with him stepping forward to make the space and link Gilmour. (incidentally, that's how Godfrey should play too, as evidenced by his latest performance on Saturday - he's not a CB either, never was). Gibson is, I agree, somewhat limited but a decent enough back up for Hanley but not the others. Sorensen is the Omo back up, and the Kabak back up at a push.

I'm not sure we've ever had Hanley, Kabak and Omo available as the 3 in a 5 alongside Aarons and Williams (Giannoulis isn't a left back at this level - I'm not sure Williams is either but he's the best we've got).

 

 

 

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I agree 100% James... the midfield is absolutely shocking without the ball and has zero creativity with it and that is all down to not replacing EMI & Skipp with at least the same quality. We have gone backwards and if yesterday is anything to go by, we will not "walk" the championship next year. 

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Normann,  Rupp, McLean / Gilmour are probably our best midfielders for what we need but I tend to agree that its probably the poorest in the division.

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20 minutes ago, sgncfc said:

 I agree with much of this but not about Hanley.

I think we have solved the CB position but they are never all fit. Hanley is our best "defender" by a country mile.

 

 

 

It is also what I love about football - how we see the game.  He was also the player 4 yards deeper allowing the attacking side to be onside for their best chance in the first half and out of position for some of their best chances

Actually - I am not uncomfortable agreeing he is our best CB;  that he may be is the my issue,  he isnt prem league good enough,  meaning the rest are lower class still.   Its a problem area that hasnt been resolved since the last prem foray.

 

As for Gibson,   good to get us out of the champs yes - but with a long term view he, and Hanley, needed to be squad players this season,  not the managers starting player choice.

 

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For me it is all about that midfield and its ability to win the ball and transition it forward.  Sort that out and our defense will be less exposed and our attackers will have more opportunities to score.  

I disagree about the CB's, although they are not great they are really exposed on every side.  The full backs are really wingback, and the CDMs are positionally poor with delusions of playing like pirlo.

Upfront Rashica, and Pukki are the real deal, not sure what we do around them.

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