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Canary02 IV

Minor tinkering makes such a difference

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There has been one clear difference in terms of our set-up and formation in the last 2 games and that has been the midfield joining the attack. It goes without saying after the goals but when Howson in particular has pushed on we have presented a far greater threat than in the whole of the season. It''s long been the case as well. One of our best home displays was against Tottenham and in that game Tettey, particularly in the first half was regularly bursting forward and we shocked Spurs with our willingness to attack. The second half he stopped doing that and we carried less of a threat. Too many times we''ve seen Snoddy or Wes have to hold the ball for an age while the whole team moves up simply because when the attack started the opposition found it easy to mark the 3 possible passing options for one of our 4 attackers to find. A breaking midfielder makes all the difference.

Regardless of what a minority say, Hughton has made us defensively more solid, both with his signings and tactics but it''s been at the cost of attacking numbers. I''ve been a critic of Hughton, (and remain unconvinced) but IF these two games have proved to him the value of allowing an extra body to join the four forwards, we could have a very good season next year. To do that he needs to have trust in our players intelligence. Allowing them to attack doesn''t mean they will forget to defend when needed.

The margins are so tight that we''ve seen the results of the last games today mean we could have ended up anywhere between 10th and 17th depending on other results. Whilst a lot of people are getting excited by this because we finished 11th I pity the missed opportunity because there were so many poor teams that were in that 10-20th group and we had so many opportunities to rip points from them. Imagine where we could have finished. From where we were 2 weeks ago of course we''re delighted with 12th, but with the way we''ve seen our players can attack and create and finish chances when allowed to, isn''t it a crying shame that we''ve hid behind stifling defence all year long?

I believe something as simple as allowing a midfielder to push on when we have the ball could make the difference between what still remains a narrow escape, and challenging with the Swansea''s and West Brom''s around 6th and 7th places. I pray that Chris Hughton takes that message away and we can have a great season next year. Everybody likes CH as a man, and everybody wants him to succeed. He has the blueprint now, he just needs to follow it and everyone will fall behind him.

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