Ole cannot resist the urge to tinker as unbeaten run is ended.


No doubt Ole had what he would consider to be perfectly valid reasons for deciding to make three changes to the side that beat Wigan for yesterday’s 1-0 defeat at Wolves, but it is not with the benefit of hindsight that I say I could not see the logic behind two of them – a look at the message boards soon told me I was not alone either!

Okay, even if the young Norwegian wasn’t injured (Ole said he had a minor injury in his post match press conference), Anthony Pilkington for Mats Daehli made some sense given the latter’s quiet start to the campaign. However, the presence of John Brayford and Kenwyne Jones on the bench means that they must have been dropped to make way for Mark Hudson and Adam LeFondre.

The general consensus seems to be that Brayford had been one of our best players in our opening three league matches – I did hear one or two criticisms of the defensive side of his game at Blackburn, but I didn’t agree with them and I saw nothing wrong in his performances in our two home games. It wasn’t just that Brayford was left out either, his omission meant that our best defender so far, Matt Connolly, had to move from centre back.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t think Jones had that good a game against Wigan, but his form, not to mention his goal scoring, so far surely merited him being given another start yesterday?  This seems especially true when you consider that our good spell at Blackburn coincided with the time when Jones was heavily involved in the game.

It was ironic that one of the players controversially brought in for the game scored the own goal which decided the match - Mark Hudson had a decent game overall though and the problems we had were  to be seen more in fornt of where Hudson plays.*

It was ironic that one of the players controversially brought in for the game scored the own goal which decided it – Mark Hudson had a decent game overall though and the problems we had were to be seen more in front of where Hudson plays.*

In trying to understand why Ole decided to shake things up despite the team having won three and drawn one of their first four games, perhaps a clue can be gained by his fairly constant comments following our matches along the lines of we weren’t good enough with the ball and we didn’t show much quality?

If Ole was thinking that his side might have been getting the results, but they hadn’t really been providing the performances, then I can understand that thinking to a degree – I would say we have only played fluently during spells in the Huddersfield game.

That said, even if you agreed with that reasoning and could support the manager’s desire to make changes, you have to scratch your head as to why he made the ones he did.

Clean sheets have been such a rarity during his time in charge that you would have thought that Ole would have been content to leave things as they were at the back after a Wigan side tipped by many for an automatic promotion place were kept out fairly comfortably on Tuesday.

I’ll preface my remarks regarding the change made up front by saying a couple of things about possession statistics. Firstly, I think I maybe give them too much importance because, let’s face it, every week there are plenty of examples of teams winning despite them having less of the ball than their opponents.

However, when possession works out at 65/35 against us as it did at Blackburn then I think that the sheer size of the margin of difference should be a cause for concern. Now, I feel that the department of the team most responsible for deciding the outcome of the battle for possession is the midfield and I believe that most people who have watched us so far this season would say that this is the most problematic area of the pitch for us at the moment.

Presuming that the change made to the midfield yesterday was a forced one, it seems odd that Ole looked elsewhere to make his other alterations. As it turned out, the possession breakdown was even more against us yesterday at 67/33. Notwithstanding my earlier comment about me placing too much importance on possession figures, I think they are embarrassing given the advantages our £60 million prize money for finishing last in the Premier League and our parachute payment have given us over most of the other teams in the Championship and the fact that we were two divisions above Wolves just over three months ago.

So, the stats say our midfield again failed to function yesterday. The worrying thing about this for me is that, for all the talk of our large and talented squad, I’m struggling to see who could come in and transform us in the middle of the park if we are going to keep on playing four men there.

If Kagisho Dikagcoi was brought in, we might see those possession figures turning in our favour somewhat, but would we have the flair and guile to open up defences with, say, him and Tom  Adeyemi as our central midfield two? Likewise, would switching Dikagcoi for Ademyemi bring an improvement on what we saw yesterday? I happen to think Joe Ralls’ good all round game might help matters, but I tend to believe he will only be used in League Cup matches if he isn’t loaned out.

Not the best of full debuts for Abthony Pilkington as he was subbed for Guido Bergstaller in the second half, but he was instrumental in turning the Wigan game in our favour when he came on and I beleive he'll prove his worth over the course of the season.*

Not the best of full debuts for Anthony Pilkington as he was subbed for Guido Bergstaller in the second half, but he was instrumental in turning the Wigan game in our favour when he came on and I believe he’ll prove his worth over the course of the season.*

All of this brings me on to Kenwyne Jones who, it seems to me, has to start in away games especially if we are going to keep on playing 4-4-2. If we are going to keep on being as bad at retaining the ball as we have been in our first two away league matches, then we need a target man we can knock “fighting” balls up to in the hope his strength will be enough to keep possession and bring team mates into the game.

Of course, there is an alternative – we could start playing three in central midfield. Usually, that would mean you only end up playing one striker and, with all of the hoohah about how many options we have up front now, that might look like something of an admission of defeat on Ole’s part.

There is a way you can play three in central midfield and two up front and that is to use the sort of formation that Ole employed at Spurs and Everton last season where we were a little unlucky to lose both matches by single goal margins. 4-4-2 hasn’t worked in our two away games in the Championship and I’m not sure that we had less of the ball in any of our games last season than we have done at Blackburn and Wolves – I’d like to see us try 3-5-2 at Fulham next week.

I suppose it could be argued that all of this is a bit of an over reaction when we drew at Blackburn and only lost by an own goal in added time yesterday, but the circumstances behind the winning goal shouldn’t be allowed to hide the fact that we were second best for most of the ninety minutes – we aren’t playing like promotion favourites and there’s little sign so far of our glut of new strikers being given the goal scoring opportunities to prove their worth.

* pictures courtesy of http://www.walesonline.co.uk/

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8 Responses to Ole cannot resist the urge to tinker as unbeaten run is ended.

  1. Graham says:

    As always I find myself agreeing with your summaries – and this time the last words in your final sentence are exactly correct. Getting the ball at the feet of one of our players in, or nearly in, the penalty area is something we just don’t do – yet .. constructive, creative midfielders needed. Too often when seeking to score goals we rely upon getting a free kick or a corner in the hope that this time Whittingham will deliver the ball precisely to the head of one of our taller players who has practised aiming headers. Yes – far more possession needed, but please not possession simply for its own sake : last season’s dire practice of passing the ball over and across and then eventually back for Marshall to hoof it up the pitch is creeping back. What a delight to see Fabio and Brayford realising that what they need to do is set off towards the net at the other end of the pitch .. oh for midfielders to do that – and Daehli does try to, so bring him back. A final thought – in his few minutes on the pitch Guerra has seemed to me to offer more than some of the others in our collection of ‘forwards’ …

  2. Big Al says:

    I just hope Ole has read this very interesting report. Consistency is a word that firstly comes to mind here. Yes Ole may be consistent in his tinkering but this bad habit of his must change if he is to be successful in team Management. One own goal is bad enough but three own goals! – Two by the Manager and one by a player is just not good enough.
    Good luck Ole there is in my view a need for change in this aspect of your decision making so ‘Just do it’ before it’s too late!
    Please don’t change a winning team if the players are fit and ready to play – a must in any sport. The other C WORD comes into play then – Confidence.
    Bluebirds bluebirds.
    Big Al.

  3. Rod says:

    You can have the best forwards in the world but if you do not win the midfield you do not get enough of the ball and your forwards simply don’t get the ball

  4. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks Paul, for your wise words.
    Our “Norwegian Ranieri” does not impress me.
    Dropping Brayford yesterday was criminal: not least because he is very much a confidence player.
    When he has a manager who thinks him “the best full back outside the Premier League” as Nigel Clough opined on a TV interview I saw last season, just watch him go.
    Alas, when he has a manager who is going to Molineux with no greater desire than to keep a clean sheet, and doubts his defensive qualities, and so VERY UNFAIRLY drops him, what will it do for his confidence?
    Answers to me on a virtual postcard please …
    And that apart, has it not occurred to Ole that often ATTACK is the best form of defence?
    JB’s amazing runs would have pinned them back.
    Ole, do not get the title of Tinkerman!
    Remember a tinkerman traditionally mended broken pots and pans.
    A damn sight easier, incidentally, than what a footballing tinkerman has to mend: broken CONFIDENCE.
    Oh and finally Ole: always play with a mighty target man of at least 6ft 2ins. Two dwarfs COMBINED together like Maynard and ALF, don’t – metaphorically speaking – get up much past Kenwyne’s chest.

  5. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks for all of your replies. I don’t think Ole is going to change and, trying to be fair to him, I suppose as supporters we only tend to talk about his tinkering when it works against us rather than for us – trouble is, at the moment I’m struggling to think of times when we have benefited from his changes!

  6. Matt N says:

    It could be worse. We could have Felix Magath in charge.

  7. The other Bob Wilson says:

    I was going to say that it looks like he’ll still be in charge for Saturday’s game Matt, but, if they lose to Brentford in the cup tonight, maybe not (no pun intended!)?

  8. Hazel C says:

    Hi Bob. I am writing from Amberley Publishing, and we are interesting in contacting you about a potential book project. Could you email me with your contact details so I can give you some more information?

    Many thanks

    Hazel Cochrane

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