A Dozen Shots, 3 Games and More Than Just a Point
Date: Wednesday 7th September 2005Four games gone, European candidates well and truly run across the park and 7 points to show for it. The first few games didn't make pretty reading from the amount of chances that we're failing to convert and it didn't make us feel any better that the only positives we can take from the game is that we're actually making chances. We're making progress, but its important to reflect. Lets see, in the game against Villa we had 15 shots (2 blocked) with 8 off target and 5 on target. Compare that to Villa and we look like spot on winners. But thatís not the case. Villa had 3 shots, 2 on target and 1 off. 2 goals from 3 shots. Is our defence that good that we restrict them to sod all shots and when we do let them have the chance its gift-wrapped with a little bow on top? It's not just at Villa either, Everton for example were restricted to just 3 shots. 2 off target and one resting firmly in the back of our net. Compare that to our shots we look like spot on winners again. 21 shots, of which 4 were blocked, 3 were on target and a resounding 14 were off target. 14 shots off target! Pub players don't get that sort of record without getting a goal. We're in the premiership, we're cutting it against the best, we're beating the best all over the pitch, yet we're lacking that cutting edge and we all know it. We all saw the effect of throwing players in the deep end when we first signed Okocha and Mendy. It didn't work then and chances are it won't work for Borgetti on his debut. But whether it works or not it doesn't matter too much when we're creating so many chances that eventually a bottle nosed dolphin could tuck away. I remember the fortress Reebok. I remember that we used to play teams off the park at home and I remember us scabbing points here and there and going almost a year unbeaten there. But now the fans are getting treated to a frustrating evening of disappointing efforts and a goal that looks likely to never come. Tactics may be the problem; the players may be the problem. But whatís concerning the most is how our European Championship Winner and pretty regular goalscorer is left on the bench in order to facilitate Henrik Pedersen, Kevin Nolan and Kevin Davies fumble around the park in the hope of getting shots in. Now they're all reasonably good players, but they all seem to be performing the same sort of job. They're big, strong and run themselves around the park holding up the play and making it difficult for the opposition to compose themselves. But do we really need three players that practically offer the same sort of outlet running about the pitch? We may not have the best cover but at least we have some different opportunities to play. Take Stelios for example. Stelios runs in and about people opening up play and scoring the odd goal here and there. He may be being touted with a move to Liverpool; he may want it for all we know. But the main thing is he's at our club, he's signed a new contract and he's a regular goalscorer from the end of last season which is what we need now. Not the misfiring Pedersen with the hope of hitting one of those hot veins of form he's in now and then. Put a natural goalscorer in our side and we're pushing for Europe/CL. Leave the current squad with long ball tactics and the number of chances were getting now and look forward to a mid-table finish and the same sort of reputation as Aston Villa. So, lets see Vaz Tť or Borgetti being brought on early and hopefully, if that frees up the team to be more adventurous with the style of play, then so be it. It might not be the solution but itís something different and a step towards a solution. Letís see more of what we had at Newcastle. Otherwise we'll be left wanting at that 90 min mark.