Villa get a right “doing” as Cardiff’s rampant front three wreak havoc.

“Arguably, that’s the biggest doing I’ve had in the Championship” – these were the post match words of Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce after he had watched his very expensively assembled (by Championship standards anyway) team endure a painful ninety minutes at Cardiff City Stadium that left them grateful to have only been beaten 3-0.

I’m afraid my nerdish tendencies got the better of me after reading about Mr Bruce’s doings and so I looked up how his first season in management, at Sheffield United, went in 98/99 – there was a 4-0 loss and a couple of 4-1 defeats as he steered the Blades to a respectable eighth place finish back in the days when the Championship was called the First Division.

So it didn’t take me long to discover a bigger defeat for the Villa manager in this league, but I would suggest that he was making a point about the manner of the defeat against City, as opposed to the margin of it.

I’ll come on to City’s performance shortly, but, for now, I’ll just say that, of course, any euphoria has to be tempered by churning out the old standard of “it’s way too early to read much into what this means the next nine months have in store for us” – it’s a cliche, but it also happens to be true.

Any analysis of yesterday’s match also has to recognise that there may not have been a more fragile team away from home in the whole of the Football, and Premier, League than Aston Villa in the last two seasons. In 15/16, a Rudy Gestede goal gave them a win at Bournemouth in that club’s first ever Premier League match, but, after that, there were four draws and fourteen defeats as they finished at the bottom of the table, seventeen points away from last but one Norwich.

Last season, they were able to end their run of more than a year without an away win with victory at Reading in October and there were further three pointers at QPR and relegated pair, Rotherham and Wigan. However, there were also thirteen defeats and their total of just fourteen away goals was the lowest in the league.

Villa were pretty strong defensively on their travels though with no one outside the top six bettering their twenty eight goals conceded – there was the one 3-0 loss at Brentford, but, otherwise, they were beaten by one or two goal margins.

So, Villa may have got too used to losing away matches in the Championship last season, but they generally managed to stay competitive – which should be the least you might expect at this level for a club with their history, support, finances and enormous first team squad.

From what I saw of Villa away from home last season, there seemed to be a lack of belief that they could get back in the match once they went a goal down – their 1-0 defeat here back in January exemplified this failing of theirs, as, despite plenty of possession in the second half, they very rarely suggested they had a goal in them as we held on pretty comfortably to the lead gained through an early Joe Ralls goal.

Steve Bruce seemed to have taken the right sort of steps to overcome this weakness in the summer with the signings of experienced performers who had been effective in the Premier League for at least a decade (John  Terry and Glenn Whelan) and someone like Ahmed Elmohamady who has a couple of Championship promotions behind him.

On paper anyway, a back four consisting of serial tournament winner Terry and internationals Alan Hutton, James Chester and Neil Taylor with eighty one times capped Republic of Ireland man Whelan patrolling in front of them presents a formidable barrier which would enable the others in the team to concentrate on coming up with those goals Villa lacked last season, but, once again, there was that very poor reaction to going a goal behind.

Given what happened on the pitch, Vincent Tan’s presence at his first home match in two and a half years became something of a side issue. In an interview before kick off, our owner took the obligatory swipe at the Andreas Cornelius signing and also reiterated that he would be willing to sell the club if the right offer came along – predictably, that received plenty of media attention, but I would have thought that what Mr Tan said is true of about 90 per cent of the clubs in this country.*

So, any assessment of how good City were has to carry a recognition of how poor our opponents were when you consider that, just like at the start of last season, they were tipped for a top two finish by so many pundits in the media – I’m sure that Villa fans would be feeling that the addition of old heads Terry and Whelan, which was supposed to have added the nous and resilience the team lacked in 16/17, had only made matters worse.

As mentioned earlier, for all of their frailties away from home last year, Villa weren’t in the habit of being thrashed, but that’s what happened to them yesterday. Okay, my definition of a hammering tends to be something a few goals worse than 3-0, but this takes me back to my contention about Steve Bruce and his admission that yesterday was, perhaps, the worst defeat he had suffered in the second tier as a manager – it was about the way his team were beaten, rather than how many they lost by.

Judging by the scathing nature of the comments I’ve seen on Villa messageboards about the beleaguered Bruce and his underachieving team, there is a feeling that another season of mid table mediocrity, or worse, awaits unless drastic changes are made, but what I would say to supporters of what I’d call the biggest club in the league this season is that they should hold their horses for a little while yet – you may have been second best by a long way yesterday, but how many times this season are you going to come up against opponents as aggressive, vibrant, fit and effective as Cardiff City were yesterday?

Okay, there is a degree of the sort of arrogance you may expect from a supporter who is not used to seeing his team play with the sort of total control they showed yesterday involved there, but, essentially, it is a serious question because we were very, very good.

I almost said we looked like a promotion side there, but just managed to remember that I’ve got to keep on saying that it’s just one game very early in a season in a league which must be among the most competitive in the world.

However, what I will say is that back in 15/16 we finished eighth, were involved in a battle to finish in the top six until our penultimate match and I can remember us playing very well in beating high riding Brighton 4-1, but we never came up with anything as good as we showed yesterday.

If there was one game last season which convinced me that we should stay up, it was that win over Villa and the main reason I had for thinking that was that I looked at the pace in our front three of Kenneth Zohore, Junior Hoilett and Kadeem Harris and thought you don’t get that in relegation sides – that trio were good that day, but yesterday, with the first two named present again and Nathaniel Mendez-Lange in for the injured Harris, our front three were sensational.

After about thirty five minutes play, I turned to my mate sat next to me and said that every time one of our front three got one on one with a Villa defender they had beaten them. Now, if I sit down and watch the whole of the game again on the club website (which seems quite a good idea at the moment!), I daresay I’ll come across instances where Zohore, Hoilett and Mendez-Lange did not go flying past their man every time, but as I watched the game live, the feeling that they were doing so lasted beyond the thirty five minute mark to the final whistle.

Starting with Zohore, I think when he first broke into the team both home supporters and opponents looked at him and assumed that his main threat would come in the air – after all, he is six foot three. However, yesterday turned out to be another of those matches where our “target man” striker was adequate at best in the air as he was usually beaten to the ball by one of Terry or Chester when it was played long to him from our keeper or defenders.

The thing is though that everyone knows now that this is not when you should worry about Zohore if you are a defender playing against him, it’s when he gets the chance to run at you, yet Villa, like an ever increasing number of Championship sides, discovered that it’s one thing to know where Zohore’s strengths lie and another thing entirely nullifying them.

James Chester coped well enough with Europe’s best in France last year, but, as the man unfortunate enough to be up against Zohore when he got a head of steam up most of the time, he was given a torrid, torrid afternoon of it in what I must say was the worst game I think I’ve ever seen him play. The second goal was a microcosm of what Kenneth Zohore is all about these days as he burst clear, turned Chester inside out and then remained calm enough to dink a ball over (which I think may have gone in anyway) that Hoilett nodded in from about a foot out – watching him yesterday, it’s little wonder that Iwan Roberts expressed the view that Zohore is now the best in our division in his position.

As for Hoilett, it’s impossible for me to name a City man of the match, but I’d say he had as good a claim to that prize as anyone. One of the things I like about him is that, in a team which Greg Halford said in his post Portsmouth game interview, can start matches slowly, you can usually tell within a minute or two of kick off if Hoilett is “on it” or not. Right from the start yesterday it was Hoilett who gave the first indicators that Villa’s experienced back four were going to get a chasing as he put Hutton (who was the main target of Villa messageboard abuse after Steve Bruce) to the sword – Neil Warnock called his display “vintage Hoilett” and it was a reminder of that time when he was with Blackburn when he was generally considered to be one of the best prospects in the country.

Junior Hoilett’s header from point blank range has just out us 2-0 up and the goal’s creator Kenneth Zohore is about to start celebrating – Hoilett and Zohore formed two thirds of what was a lethal City front three.*

I suppose Taylor fared a little better against Mendez-Laing than Chester and Hutton did against their tormentors and, apart from the first goal, City were never really able to fully exploit the height advantage the former Rochdale man enjoyed over his marker, but there was still so much to admire about someone who, based on what we’ve seen in the past month, really should have been playing at this level for years.

Mendez-Laing also managed to make critics of his finishing (like me!) eat humble pie when he cut in from the left, faced Chester up, and placed a lovely shot into the opposite corner of the net – rather like Zohore, our opponents may know what’s coming from Mendez-Laing, but, yesterday, they were powerless to do anything about it.

City have been billed as dark horses for promotion by some for what are typical “Warnock side” reasons – we’re big, strong, direct, good at set pieces and difficult to play against. However, both in his pre and post match press conferences,  our manager made a point of saying that we also have talent  and I thought our front three in particular had that commodity in abundance against Villa.

However, it would be wrong to ignore the contribution of others. A mad dash from goal in all of the excitement of us having just gone 3-0 up apart, Neil Etheridge was a reassuring presence in goal with his early save from Scott Hogan proving to be a very important moment in putting us on the road to such a dominant performance.

Lee Peltier and Joe Bennett were solid at full back (as was Jazz Richards who replaced the latter around the hour mark after being unlucky to have been left out following his fine midweek display), while Sol Bamba overcame a shaky start to look his usual, imposing, self and Sean Morrison generally looked comfortable against what was a pretty shot shy Villa attack.

Although he ended up with an assist for the final goal to his name, I’d make Aron Gunnarsson probably the quietest of a midfield trio that gelled splendidly – it wasn’t that he was poor, far from it, but I felt Joe Ralls and Loic Damour were that little bit better.

Even among City fans, it seems to me that Ralls is perceived as a certain type of player, but I’d always argue that he is another example of what Neil Warnock means when he talks about unacknowledged talent – okay, it’s not Whittingham type talent, but Ralls showed on a few occasions yesterday that he’s well capable of beating opponents in confined spaces and he also hit some telling crossfield passes.

Finally, Damour was dynamic in his ability to get around the pitch and he twice came close to scoring as the overworked Sam Johnstone (picking Villa’s man of the match was so much easier than picking ours!) denied him after strikes on goal which were very impressive in their different ways.

All of which means that we top the league after two games – even if we are able to sustain a promotion challenge, I don’t see us staying there for long, so I’m just going to enjoy it while I can!

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

 

 

 

 

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13 Responses to Villa get a right “doing” as Cardiff’s rampant front three wreak havoc.

  1. Colin Phillips says:

    Thanks for another fine report, Paul. Now we must not get carried away but that performance was full of promise and if these players can be injury free and able to maintain the energy they showed yesterday we can look forward to an exciting season.

    First I’d like to thank the recruitment team who found and signed our new recruits, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Loic Damour. Allegedly these two were “as cheap as chips” but both were impressive yesterday.

    I was a little concerned in the early stages as Scott Hogan was able to find lots of space and managed to open our defence much too easily, if Etheridge hadn’t made that save the game might have developed into a very different pattern. Elmohammadi (sp?) was another who gave us problems and when he went off injured Villa seemed to lose a lot of their threat.

    At the end of the game one of my season ticket neighbours commented on the difference between this game and our opening home fixture last season, I agreed but in truth I have no memory of that game except we played Trollope’s “Cardiff Way”, well this game certainly didn’t fit into that category. The big difference PACE. Leaving out the back four and Gunnarsson all the team had the ability to run at and past an opponent. The joy of it!!!!

    For me the midfield was outstanding, such a pleasure to say that, with Damour being a revelation if he keeps up putting in that sort of performance in the next couple of games he could be another we have trouble holding on too.

    Oh! and I would be remiss not to mention the clean sheet, none of the usual dropping back and holding on for our lives.

    Right feet back on the ground and I’m hoping that this isn’t another flash-in-the-pan performance as that 4-1 drubbing of Brighton was.

    Quite looking forward to Tuesday!

  2. Anthony O'Brien says:

    An excellent result and an excellent performance. When Bamba made two glaring mistakes in the first few minutes, I began to fear the worst. If even he could be adversely affected by nerves (which I assume was the case) how would we cope? In fact, from that moment he was brilliant — as was every other member of the team, even though our goalkeeper’s rush of blood in the second half which left him temporarily stranded out wide did make me wince. I’ve often complained about Zohore’s timidity when faced by a high ball with a defender at his back, but he has improved slightly in that respect, and I take Paul’s point that his strength lies in his power and pace in running on to a through ball — as he showed yet again yesterday.

    The only complaint I have was that my new season ticket would not work. Apparently 600 of these duds had been sent out. However, a lady named Valerie at the ticket office was the epitome off calm and helpful efficiency, and if anyone knows whom I’m talking about, please thank her on my behalf.

    Top of the table! Brilliant! I look forward to further proof of the pudding on Tuesday.

  3. Russell says:

    Thanks Paul spot on review, its was just a vintage day ,sun ,beer ,meet up with old footy fans , full staduim ,noise ,City HAMMERING a good side ,top of the table and the best part we didn’t just score great goals we were man for man better , and abject performance of a so called giant (Terry) who could not even muster a fist pump to his team mates spoke volumes about a team who lacked any real purpose over the 90 minutes .

    One worry for Wales though was the Welsh Villa players ,eeek.

    The team performance well where do you start:

    Keeper , great save from Hogan did fine Villa didn’t really test and strangely lacked height.

    Bamba a giant in defence (Terry take note )

    Ralls, Gunnerson superb work rate, getting the foot in one needed, closed down so well .

    Damour looks a great accusustion, great fast feet ,leggy ,we may have bought a gem.

    Up front well Zohoro value rises weekly ,great channel runs, as as you say Paul better running at players, and he turns them so well ,and was up against a very good and experienced back four ,but for me aged and slow, superb chip and assist for Hoiletts goal .

    The other two forwards Hoilett and Laing well what to say both MOM potenials ( I thought I had gone back in time and was watching Dave Bennett and Willie Anderson ) .

    Fergie was right with pace anything can happen ,never mind pocession, pace skill, effort and hitting the net gets you up ,ask Fulham .

    My MOM though was Holiett sublime performance ,looks fit and hungry and is a skilled operator .

    All this reminds we have so many other good players to come in, Camp , Manga,Patterson ,Tomlin , Harris ,Ward, Dare to suggest we are going up ,we will still be top Wednesday morning, and when we do slump we have a real manager to sort it ,competion for places,

  4. Barry cole says:

    Well Paul another in depth report which I see as a glass half empty worry on our position later in the season. I can only say that having witnessed a great all round team o early in the season I would like to just put things in perspective.
    There is no doubt about it we played some exquisite football and I am afraid that Bruce did not see it coming. That will change and teams watching the video will set out to nullify this’s ass they quickly realised that Cardiff are not a mid table as seen by the bookmakers.
    Games will become harder and players will have off days but you know what we do have is strength in depth. Something we didn’t have last year.
    We do need tart a bit better in defence than we did yesterday but to criticise anybody would be wrong.
    My thoughts last week on the chances missed by holiet and Mendez Lang were well and truly pushed down my throat.
    But the player I concentrated on yesterday was ralls and if there was an unsung hero that was the man, I made a point last week that I wanted to just see if ralls had made the improvement from last season and I wasn’t disappointed.
    The three midfielders all played their part in a wonderful display and we now have a great counter attacking side with goals likely from a number of players. So my glasss is very half full as I believe whatever teams come up with to nullify our players there will be another on the bench to rectify the problem. Yes we will lose games but not enough to stop us getting in the top two, I know I am being positive again lol

  5. BJA says:

    Paul – Thanks once again for another of your excellent reports, this time on yesterday’s proceedings. In my earlier observations of this season’s team selections, I made reference to how NW will change things later on as a game progressed. Against Villa however he realised, as I has alluded to in a couple of my responses, that their ageing defence would not appreciate speedy players coming at them later in the game. He clearly decided that they would not fancy this scenario from the off – hence Tomlin was left on the bench and Mendez-Laing and Damour started. Inspirational. And with Junior and Ken latching on to the idea, poor Villa could not cope. We could have had more had not Sam Johnstone not been in the way – good keeper.
    And what a team performance for Mr Tan to witness. No wonder he was on the pitch at the end to greet each and every player as they trooped off. Also a picture to savour somewhere will be of Mr.T and NW doing the ‘Ayaytollah’ standing side by side. Perhaps Mr.T will want to come more often.
    From my perspective, the only good things about the Villa was the aforementioned Johnstone and their coach, not the hapless Steve Bruce, but the luxurious vehicle waiting to take their old men back to the Midlands. What a wagon. I’d have made them catch a service bus.

  6. Clive Rymon says:

    Thanks Paul,you have covered all bases in your excellent report.I would just like to add that yesterday’s game brought back memories of Man City,Chopra and Boothroyd era when it seemed as soon as teams step into the stadium they knew they were in for a game.

    All of the players put a shift in,the pace and movement of them had Villa not knowing which way was up,I was particularly impressed by Damour who appeared to cover every blade of grass,but not only that his touch and vision was a highlight for me I think he’s a real find.

    The one thing that has been said on here is that we do seem to have genuine alternatives on the bench to change things if needed,plus it always good to have competition.

    They say two games are never the same but I am looking forward to Tuesday nights game and hope their is more of the same,I hope so as surely the players must be on a high after that and I’m sure Warnock will not want to let his hometown club get one over on us,roll on Tuesday.

  7. MIKE HOPE says:

    Judging by comments from opposing managers -including Steve Bruce a few days ago when he previewed the different challenges his team faced in games against Cardiff then Reading – the opposition come to us expecting an aerial assault from set-pieces including throw-ins, and not much else.
    For every action there is a reaction and I suspect that in future, starting with Sheff Utd, opponents will be trying to stop any of our front three getting a run at their back four.
    I fully agree with the praise of TOBW and other fans on our team and individual performances and I think there were two other aspects which should produce benefits in future.
    Firstly the big crowd. Unlike previous occasions when attendances have been boosted by free entry for friends of season ticket holders, this time the extras saw football that would make them want to become regulars.
    Secondly the presence of Vincent Tan and the warm reception he received from the fans.As a businessman he would have seen the potential for a return to the big money of the premier league and as a human being he would prefer to be a hero rather than the pantomime villain.This could be important between now and 31 August if tempting offers are received for our key players. It could even encourage him to support NW if he wants to strengthen the squad!

  8. Adrian Lloyd Pickrell says:

    Good Morning everyone. Many thanks for a riveting report once again Paul. A superb result on Saturday. I love these strange early season days of being at the top of the table but only six points away from the bottom placed club, or vice -versa, being rock bottom of the table and only six points behind the league leaders. Although one could argue that it was possibly a good time to play Villa before they get themselves sorted it was still an inspired performance from City, the sort we’ve been craving for. It’s been quite a while since Í have seen City looking so dangerous and goal hungry. I am in a really good mood. I hope this squad can bury the old phrases “Dont do a Cardiff” and “The Cardiff Way” once and for all.

  9. The other Bob Wilson says:

    As is always the case, some great replies – thank you.
    Colin P, I agree about our scouting system. I doubt it if Mendez-Laing and Damour will be able to maintain Saturday’s level of performance on a consistent basis, but they’ve shown enough already to be thought of as players who have the ability to prosper at this level and, possibly, higher. In both cases, they were very talented teenagers whose careers then went awry for a few years before, hopefully, we’ve been able to profit from an improved attitude on their behalf – I’ve always thought that talented youngsters with a dodgy mindset can eventually be taught a new, more helpful, attitude, but you can’t teach talent to players with limited ability and an exemplary attitude.
    Shame about your season ticket Anthony. It seemed to me that the turnstiles were working slower than normal even for those of us who managed to get in without a problem – it felt as if the computer was making up it’s mind whether to let me in or not!
    Russell, yes, although I was reluctant to nominate a man of the match, if you pinned me down and told me I had to pick someone, I’d opt for Hoilett. I also agree with you about Terry – as I alluded to, Villa have struck me as a squad with serious attitude problems over the past couple of seasons and I’d presumed Terry, and Whelan, had been brought in to provide attitude, belief and a winning mentality, but Villa were even more insipid once they had gone a goal down than normal!
    Barry, I’d say you’re right about it not taking long for sides to figure us out (I’d also say that we are going to have to cope with increased expectation levels after Saturday), but I like the fact that, in Tomlin, we have someone who, at his best, can orchestrate a different type of attacking game if we decide that our opponents are better suited to coping with pace and running the channels than Villa were. I’m not sure I agree with you about my glass being half empty though, I just don’t see us as potential Champions – before a ball was kicked in the league, I thought we could challenge for the Play Offs and, eventually, end up somewhere between seventh and tenth, but, after Saturday, I’m willing to accept that I might have been over cautious there.
    BJA, I’d expected Ward to start and Mendez-Laing to be be brought on around the hour mark to give the Villa defence even more pace to deal with, but, as is the case 99.9% of the time, Warnock knew better than me!
    Clive R, although their team sheet will appear far less daunting than Villa’s did, I’d say Sheffield United will have them licked when it comes to belief and team spirit and I think it’s be a tough, but eminently winnable, match for us – United hadn’t lost since late January before Saturday’s narrow defeat at Middlesbrough.
    Mike, you’re spot on about what teams believe they are going to face from a Neil Warnock Cardiff side and, for now at least, they are really struggling to cope with the reality of what they then come up against. On a similar note, there was a preview thread of Saturday’s game on a Villa messageboard in which the consensus was that we would try to kick them off the park, while mounting a remorseless aerial attack on their defence. All of this ignored the fact that only Derby had less bookings than us in the Championship last season and that our overall disciplinary record made us the fifth best behaved side in the league – Villa were twentieth in the bookings table and were placed eighteenth in the behaviour table.
    https://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/championship/fairnesstabelle/wettbewerb/GB2/plus/?saison_id=2016

  10. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    Although I died in 2007, I keep an eye on The Bluebirds’ scores, as I do on those of Sunderland FC …the team I gave my heart to as a youth. And both teams’ results this weekend have thrilled me…but not just because they won handsomely with both sides netting three times. No it was another statistic that caught my eye.

    Alas, only Cardiff fans of pensioner age, will ever have seen me play. And if you did, you will hardly remember me for my goalscoring ability: no, that was not my bag. You see, I was a MAKER of goals. And I did not make them passing backward or square…I made them by looking up and playing the ball…FORWARD.

    And half the time the passes were intercepted, and some duffers in the crowd would give me the bird, but I never let it bother me, as I was safe in the knowledge that the real football aficionados knew that you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.

    And so, with that in mind, let me cut to the quick. The statistic I am talking about, is of course…possession stats.

    You see…I am delighted every time a team with 70-30 possession LOSES a game…!!

    And my beloved Black Cats actually went one better…they lost the possession count 29-71…!! Yet ended the match as comfortable winners.

    And the Bluebirds lost the possession count 35-65…and a fat lot of good that possession “win” did Villa, with them being trounced 3-0…and as Paul says, but for their goalie, it would have been a hatful.

    So, let us look afresh at the possession stat.

    It is more than a meaningless statistic…it is a positively pernicious one.

    Belief in it, makes teams pass square and backwards in their own half…just for the sake of it.

    In fact, were I a manager, I would FINE my players if possession stats got above 60%…!!

    It would suggest to me that they are not trying to thread enough needles.
    HKG.

  11. Geoff Lewis says:

    Thanks Paul and fellow Bluebirds for your comments. It was one of the best games i have watched for years, It was fast and flowing all the time. Remember our first games last season, we hardly moved the ball would go forward then sideways and then back to the defence, then to the goalie.
    I was looking forward to Tomlin playing, but we did not need him.

  12. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Good to hear from you again Adrian, maybe it was a good time to play Villa, but you only have to read some of the Birmingham media and Villa messageboards to see that they’re saying that it was a worse thumping then anything they received in the Championship during last season when it is generally agreed they dramatically under performed given the amount of money they had spent – when one side reckoned to be fair to middling in their league, beats a hotly fancied favourite, there is always some debate about whether it was down to the underdogs being good or the “bigger” team playing so poorly, but City’s dominance was so complete on Saturday that even if Villa were a bit undercooked (to use a term beloved by modern pundits), we were still very good.
    Mr Kirtley’s Ghost, that’s an interesting and persuasive contribution. I think you may be familiar with my preference for a passing game which, hopefully, gives more than a fifty per cent possession share – my reason for feeling like this is simply that the opposition cannot score when you have the ball. However, I agree that if, say, a 75/25 advantage for your team in the possession stakes comes about though a lot of sideways and backwards passing in front of opponents who are perfectly happy to let you have the ball, then it counts for nothing – I agree entirely that you need players in your team who run the risk of losing that possession, which is so beloved by many modern managers and coaches, by playing those “eye of a needle” passes you mention that are the ones which really hurt the opposition.
    Geoff, the contrast between Saturday and this time last year was amazing wasn’t it. As for Tomlin, I’ve mentioned before that, if we can get him playing as he can do, he possess the vision and ability to play the little passes that can break down massed defences which sit deep – Zohore, Hoilett and Mendez-Laing ran riot against a team which played with quite a high line on Saturday, but would not be as effective against two deep lying banks of four, Tomlin might be able to provide us with the key which opens up those sort of defences.

  13. Lindsay Davies says:

    Paul and all MAYAns…many thanks from a long way off. I can FEEL how good a day that was.
    I was at Carrow Road for that 70%/30% match (or, 71%/29%, as the late Harry Kirtley tells us). Norwich were frustrating, but genuinely unlucky. A young fellow to watch out for when they go West to Godzone – James Maddison.
    Forza Bluebirds!

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