Date:Wednesday October 3 2007
I slept pretty badly last night as my sleep was disturbed by flashbacks of the horror show performed in front of another crowd of over 13,000. So McCall's decision to issue a public apology is definitely welcome. As the final whistle went I was sorely tempted to camp myself outside the players entrance and demand they justify their performances to me, particularly the so-called man of the match.
Stuart was subdued on the touchline throughout the game and although that is his style I wonder whether it imposed himself on the game as much as he would like. Speaking to the Telegraph and Argus, McCall gave his take on the game 'we're giving teams victories and it's not acceptable, they were two absolute joke goals to give away. [I certainly didn't see the funny side of them if that's true] That's six we've given away like that in the last three games - teams have not even had to work for them.'
City's dire performance made the Lancashire side look like Barcelona and Stuart recognised that by saying 'Accrington were the better team all over the park but I think that comes from going 2-0 up and being given the goals. It's only human nature to go into your shell a little bit after that.' Going into the shell when playing in a cauldron of sound like Valley Parade was last night is unacceptable. The truth is that they were just too lazy to be bothered to reward the fans with any effort (certain individuals aside). However, once again the players were exposed as being unable to play as a team. When we got the ball on the ground and played for each other then we looked pretty good (our best moments came from having the ball on the ground). But all too often we reverted to long ball from defence to attack, where we lost it on the second or third pass.
Our central midfield worked hard but weren't given a chance to boss the game because Mark Bower thought he was Steven Gerrard and Peter Thorne and Dave couldn't retain the ball or even win a 50/50 ball, they certainly can't win any headers. So when Stuart says 'you have plenty of nights like these in football' I'm not sure I'm entirely sympathetic. His players need to buck their ideas up, or he needs to do some serious work on the training ground to stop the ludicrous tactics we seem to employ. Fortunately though 'it just makes me more determined as a manager to make sure I get it right here. I'll give everything to do that. I can promise our supporters I will be doing everything in my power, and so will the staff and the players, to turn things round.' And call me a sucker, but I believe him.
After more individual mistakes cost us another game (accounting for our haul of 0 points from the last 9 in which we have conceded 8 times) Stuart isn't going to turn on his players, and it was cheering to see the Valley Parade faithful defiantly supporting the players even though they provided nothing to cheer (perhaps BfB had inspired the atmosphere after a telling prematch article) and the manager said 'I don't like criticising individuals and I'm not going to start now, but we are giving away too many soft goals and all areas will be looked at. I'm saying it every game but we've got to look at where the mistakes are coming from and try to eradicate them.'
Truth is that although we made mistakes that led to goals we also continue to make mistakes that prevent us from scoring. Somehow opposition sides get time and space in the attacking third whilst that never happens for us because neither striker works to collect the ball on the ground by coming deep whilst the midfield tends to drop too far back and not give the defence any options when it comes to distribution.
Of course I'm going to be angry and be able to criticise. Our performance last night was incredibly bad. Stuart's final word on the matter sums it up well 'we were poor all over the pitch. It was an absolutely disastrous night.'
Good luck you brave souls who travel over to Milton Keynes. I do not think you're in for a fun afternoon.
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Date:Wednesday October 3 2007
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