Friday, 14 March 2008

Training Ground Off-Piste

I'll be heading to the French Alps by the time the players have come off the field at Portman Road on Saturday, so in my absence it's time for some reflection and insight for the coming week.

Firstly, the result against Burnley was obviously a disappointment, but promising by virtue of the fact that there did at least seem to be some fight left in the team. This will be invaluable for the Ipswich game, and perhaps this was a good time for 2 games away from The Valley.

Without the boo-boys on their backs, the players have often come up with some of the more gritty performances, and ones which will be much needed if we are to confirm a playoff place. If we can get a point tomorrow, I think the fans will be on-side come the visit of West Brom. We've always had a good atmosphere on the big matches at home, it mainly seems the frustration ebbs when we play the teams people feel we 'should beat'.

If we've learnt anything about this division so far, it's the clear fact that it was never going to be a cake-walk. I think it's fair to say we have one of the most technically gifted squad in the league, but that counts for nothing when you have teams that get stuck in and fight for points.

Part of our problem recently seems that we seem to be lacking a focal point for creativity. Reid was criticised for dictating the play, but that input right now appears to be sorely missed. That's no discredit to Matt Holland who's been fantastic as captain, but right now we seem like we're turning into a team of individuals rather than a team around a play-maker in Reid.

The team seems under pressure to deliver creativity from every man, whereas in reality this isn't necessary. The key components are a defender who is comfortable on the ball, a midfielder who can play a telling pass, and at least one winger who can take a man on and cross. Oh, and someone to poke the ball in the net.

Recently we've seen rampaging runs all over the place with no real end product - poor crosses, balls given away easily, players out of position – it's unnecessary. Keep it simple, keep the play flowing through a few key players, and take the pressure off the rest of the squad.

Sometimes it's all about keeping things simple, and based on his performances since the new year, Paddy McCarthy is the ideal example. He's not flash, he's not quick, but he is solid, tidy, and has been one of our most dependable players. If only we could get Bougherra back alongside him to provide the distribution, that would steady the productivity of the defence.

It doesn't need me to tell you how important this coming 7 days will be in defining our season, and I hope that when I get back we're still in a strong position. If results go against us we could be tenth after the West Brom game, which would leave us with a mountain to climb.

Personally, I find more fun in skiing down the things – let's hope the team can avoid the uphill battle.

1 comment:

Mr T said...

Hey, why aren't there any more posts? Given up already.....