Planet Swans was a deflated old joint this morning and no mistake. Losing 3-2 at home to Norwich City felt like a real chance missed not just to consolidate mid-table but even look further upwards, but in amongst all the soul-searching and occasional wind-breaking, Jacktastic clapped his hands as a vague motivational gesture and said:
“Lets put it into perspective. A deflected goal off Neil Taylor which Vorm would have saved otherwise and a ball which nine times out of ten would have gone out and we switched off. Graham misses one or two and Ruddy makes a great save off Caulker. All this and we were not playing very well and did not seem up for it. Not so bad really and will stand us in good stead for the run in.”
Inglorious Bastard sighed, poured himself another cuppa and spent a moment or two gathering the words together to let rip with:
“I’m not trying to make excuses for our loss and come across as a sore loser, but our midfield was so weak against them. McEachran – or however his name is spelt – will be an exceptional player in the future, he has bags of talent, but he was not suited to that role against Norwich. Too weak, no aggression or tenacity. Just goes to show how vital Allen’s play is to us. How bad is his injury, and Kemy’s too for that matter? Josh M should be vying for the attacking midfield spot with Gylfi, where his talents will be of better use and there wont be pressure on him to ‘get stuck in’.”
Someone then burst through the doors excitedly yelling “I found some croissants!”, debagged said pastries and plonked them in a basket on a table next to a jug of orange juice, round which a select committee of local experts gathered to discuss Scott Sinclair’s relatively mediocre form. Crackerjack was all like:
“Scotty is so frustrating on times, and hasn’t yet found the spark he had last season. Rightly or wrongly he reminds me of Andy Robinson in that 99 times out of 100 you know he’s going to cut inside & try to shimmie his way into a shooting position, regardless of whether laying off to a team-mate or taking it down to the by-line is the better option. I’d like to see Routledge given the starting spot on the left wing more often, if for no other reason than to keep Scotty on his toes.”
tricksterjack waved in a “yeah yeah” sort of way, then spun the conversation Josh McEachran-wards:
“He played a few decent through balls yes! But he offered nothing else a that’s not good enough, Kemy should have started against these, well documented that josh is lightweight and them yellows are anything but.”
Iagz nodded sagely and chimed in with:
“Lovely passer and creative but not sure he’s physically ready for regular games at this level. I don’t mean in terms of just his size but he isn’t aggressive to make up for his size. Should never play as one of the deep two but then he’s nowhere near as good as Gylfi. He’s still a nice player but I said before we signed him I don’t think this is the season to be bringing in players who aren’t ready for this level and need bringing on a bit. He will do okay as a squad player but won’t be near the first team with everyone fit.”
The croissants didn’t last long.
So I’m down the old Pink ‘Un, right, and Shack Attack had a roomful of people sitting cross-legged at his feet while he dispatched his latest musings:
“I don’t think we should underestimate just how brave it was to go to Swansea with that gameplan and it just reinforces the view that PL is a manager with absolute belief in his players.
We pressed Swansea very high and in wide areas on Saturday to force them inside (it was almost a complete reversal of our tactics against Chelsea where we pushed them out wide from a deeper position and invited crosses into Torres). It’s a very risky tactic against a side so comfortable in possession as you only need one of your first line of pressing to be slightly off the pace and the opposition are clear and you have too many men forward. The way we set up showed that Lambert has absolute belief in his players (particularly in the front two and the wide players) to carry out such a task. The fact that he also did it when we had a patched up defence with a player making his first start of the season is perhaps even more impressive.
Once again it proves how pointless it is to second guess Lambert on team selection. Did anyone suggest a midfield of Pilkington-Fox-Surman-Bennett on here? For all the talk prior to the Sunderland game a couple of weeks back about Martin O’Neill’s influence Paul Lambert is very much his own man. Now who wants to predict the side for the Leicester game?”
Ripples of reverential applause filled the room before Smokebomb, inspired by what he had just heard, stood up and very almost fainted when he saw all those faces looking back at him expectantly. “No,” he thought to himself – “this is my time to shine.” He cleared his throat and – much to his surprise – boomed in a fearsome baritone:
“Cant disagree with that OP, the tactics were spot on as clearly the team selection was as well. I had always expected at the beginning of the season to see Bennet and Pilks playing in the same team, we did try that early on but Bennet did seem to go off the boil a little bit, but on Saturday they were excellent and the mid field played as well as I can remember. What options we seem to have and with Howson being available soon it just gets better.”
He smiled bashfully as he was met with encouraging applause, and a number of local townswomen lingered around afterwards in the hope of getting his number. “Who is this magnificent young stallion?” they doubtless were murmuring amongst themselves while rearranging their hair and reapplying lipstick.
Heartened by what I had just seen, I strolled over to Wrath of the Barclay where Brandonio was impressing upon everyone the need for an all-round midfielder:
“…maybe Howson is the answer to that though. Striker…who knows…current 3 of Jackson, Holt and Morison all doing well, we have Vaughan now waiting in the wings. Need back up at LB as Drury is going to retire or be moved on. Like Lambert says, if quality out there exists at a decent price we will buy it, can’t see any more than 4 signings in the summer though, with probably 4/5 going out. Super Chris, Wilbrahamovic, Crofts, Leon and Drury.”
Eyebrows were raised through when crazy old robert_rosario took time out from building a gargantuan matchstick tower to explain why he sees further reinforcements as unnecessary…
“with Howson and Bennett junior the squad is fine and St Paul sets great store by loyalty. Current squad are so magnificent he wont undermine or unsettle it by bringing in any fresh faces. So that just leaves the Naughton situation to resolve and I suspect we can pick him up quite cheaply the closer we get to the end of his contract – 2013? Nice bit of jolly old brinkmanship.”
To which folk guffawed heartily, shook their heads and muttered, “Oh, that crazy old robert_rosario. What will he say next?”
The remainder of my stay is unfortunately a bit of a blur courtesy of a novel drinking game which involved downing a tequila every time someone posted something to the effect of “Grant Holt for England!”.