Everyone has mate like this. They are a good friend to you and always say the right things, and help you out at the drop of a hat. But put them in front of the rest of your mates and they just turn into a plank. Saying the wrong things, being inappropriate and basically embarrassing you.
This is where Slaven is right now. we have known him for years and believe he knows what he’s doing. We all remember his commentary at the Euro’s. “Is there nothing this fella knows ?” We are so lucky to have him, etc.
And then last night…..
The warning was there against Swansea. Poor uninventive football with people out of position, and not putting a shift in, all pushed aside because we got a very late winner.
This was a game that nearly had no regulars in the crowd as well. I spent most of the day with hospitals and doctors and then was locked out my house, with my train ticket inside (long story) . Aussie John by circumstance was at the ground 4 hours early and considered going home instead. Angry was steaming when he got there (i’ll leave that there) . But there we were. Which was more than the team.
The set up wasn’t too bad, with Antonio back on the right, but Arnautovic on the left (has no left foot), and Hernandez on his own up top (against two 6’4″ central defenders). Why not Masuaku in left midfield and Cresswell behind him? You know, how we finished against Swansea, on top. Fonte and Reid shoring up the defence.
We started well. Passing about with aplomb and looking up for it. For about 9 minutes and then Brighton got an innocuous free kick. A nice delivery found Murray who unmarked (Reid!) nodded it past Hart for a surprise goal. And then we gave up. Literally. Nothing special after that at all. Obiang and Kouyate were just not there, Lanzini was not coming forward and Arnautovic might as well been sitting with me. Record signing my arse. The bloke couldn’t influence car direction in a one way street. Balls were being pumped in to Hernandez who looked like a mascot against the visitors centre backs. We did try some cutting passes through the back four but he couldn’t just get the turn to make space. Our only shining light was Antonio who tirelessly ran his lines beating players to only look up and see no one in the box.
Brighton doubled their lead just before the break with Izquierdo bending a beauty past Hart.
Kouyate made way for Ayew at half time but it was business as usual. No attacking of note, and lots of ineffective bustle in the middle. We would have never scored if we were out there all night.
At 75, Zabaleta (my MOTM for WHU) was slightly late with a tackle and gave away a pen. Murray converts and Brighton confirm their first top flight away win since 1983.
At this point the ground emptied. Literally. Outside it looked like 90 had gone.
The biggest cheer of the night was when Arnautovic was swapped out for Fernandes. He was useless all game. Yet another failed Slaven signing currently. I’m sorry, but 27 mil should buy someone who has an inkling of what to do outside of bumping into people with his elbow.
So this leaves us just above the drop zone on goal difference. Shocking. Next up are Palace who are on the turn.
So back to my opening paragraph. Slaven, you are a lovely fella, both on the telly and in person, but it’s time to leave. The team don’t get you, probably because you change the set up every week. You consistently play people in wrong positions. And have no faith in youth. We were 2 strikers down last night and Martinez, who has scored 20 goals in his last 23 appearances for our prem 2 team is not even on the bench. Reece Oxford is in limbo after coming back from Germany on loan but cannot play until Jan. There is no plan and no consistency, both the responsibility of the manager. As are signings, and last year and this years additions talk for themselves.
But he won’t leave, because the board are too tight to break his contract. And money rules everything with these bods. Over the team, over the club, and over the manager. Slaven himself has alluded to not being happy, but cannot talk about it apparently. Maybe he should just come out and get it over with, for all of us.
The move to the OS was always going to be troublesome, and elevating any business into the next tier turns heads in odd ways, but this is starting to look like self implosion unless changes are made and quickly.
Who’s next in the seat ? We need to be realistic. Ancelotti and Mancini wont happen. Rafa is arguably in a better position, especially if someone who matches his ambition buys Newcastle. So that leaves us with a wild card, like Watford and Huddersfield have done, or going into the unemployed. Sam ? No thanks. Moyes. LOL. Pardew ? Why not? We have a squad he will appreciate, and has unfinished business with us. Also the big ground will suit his ego.
So it’s stay with the nice fella and potentially drop out of the league, or do a deal with the devil and kick start the season.
Lastly. Prem football on a Friday. No !