Warrick Hunt here.
So I'll just jump straight to the point. Mr O'Neill has been the problem for a while now. Our problems started on Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 at about 8pm. Sunderland 0-2 Everton. This was the start of our downhill spiral. That bastard, Jelavic. Let's take a look at our problems:
An AWFUL defense...
When you play Titus Bramble in defense, it's either going to be really, really good, or really, really bad. Lately, however, it's been a lot more bad. Since his last minute block to stop Danny Graham scoring (we'll get to him later) he's done nothing but make mistakes. Not half as bad as his defensive partner, John O'Hoof, who has been making mistakes ALL SEASON LONG. Count how many goals we've conceded that have been town to O'Shea. Why haven't we seen Mangane yet? If it's because he's unfit, why is he here? Why are we paying him 70k a week if he isn't going to play? Now to the full backs. Rose is amazing but the rest of them are not up to scratch. Gardner isn't a right back, but he isn't a center midfielder either. How he's bagged 7 this season is beyond me. Jack Passback isn't a footballer, as far as I can see. Phil Bardsley is like "I'll huff and puff but I'm still shite". Who else is there? I'd take Mr Mohamady at right back over the two fools there now.
There is no support to go to the forwards. Johnson can't cross a ball, so this means he has to cut inside. Any full back who does their homework realizes that Johnson NEEDS to cut in. This effectively means that Johnson can't beat his man, rendering him useless. Now we move to James McClean. Even without him saying he likes songs, calling Ireland shite and refusing to wear flowers on his shirt, he is another useless player. Last season, he would knock and run. Just bomb down the wing, whip a ball in, then take credit for his good performance. This season, he's been tampered with. A combination of Steve Guppy and Opposition full backs has stopped him from being the force he was last season. He's either a headless chicken losing the ball or a winger stuck in no mans land passing it behind to Colback (who can't pass a ball forward).
...but even if there was support, we've very little of an end product.
Before January, we had Fletcher, Saha, Campbell, Wickham, Ji, McFadden (HE WAS HERE!) and Sessegnon (he can play there) upfront. Now we've got Fletcher, Graham and Sessegnon. Let's look at our upfront options. Fletcher has banged in a lot of goals this season (I think he's up to 11 now) but he just doesn't get into enough goal scoring opportunities enough. Lets face it, if you put Steven Fletcher in a goal scoring opportunity, he will score 9 times out of 10. The problem is, he's always drifting out to the wings. I personally think O'Neill instructs him to do this. The other half of our strike force (unless we count Mandron and Noble) is Danny Graham. Now one thing people said after the boos when he came on for Swansea was "They won't boo him if he scores goals". Fair enough. One problem. HE DOESN'T SCORE GOALS! He doesn't shoot. I'm not actually sure that in his 4 games for the club that he has touched the ball yet. It's bad enough that he's a Newcastle fan (like we needed another piss take from the mags) but the fact that we've gotten rid of 5 strikers in January makes it even worse.
Nothing spectacular in the center of midfield...
We've already discussed Gardner and Colback. We know they are useless. Let's move on. David Vaughan. If he would ever win an award, it would be for the most useless substitute... ever. The only reason I don't mind him is because of THAT GOAL. The goal that gave us hope. But yeah, useless. Lee Cattermole. What a player he is, but he is a liability. On the pitch, he is fantastic. But aside from all those performances he is either injured or getting sent off. Now is the part when you say "he's cleaned his act up". How many times have we said that. We say he has cleaned his act up and then he gets sent off against the mags. We say the same, he gets sent off against MK Dons. Then he comes back like a knight in shining armor with all these great performances and gets injured. He comes back and gets booked within a minute against Arsenal and has to be subbed at half time. I'll leave this one for you to decide. Alfred N'Diaye. He came on, he made all these runs, he nearly scores with his first touch, he's the next Yaya Toure. Then he plays against Wigan. He runs, he sets up, then he tires at 60 minutes. Now he's been forced by Martin O'Neill to be a brick wall in the defensive midfield role. No runs. No assists. No goals. It's as if Martin O'Neill got a new toy for Christmas and broke it one of the first times he played with it. Only time will tell with Alfie. Last but not least. In fact, last and least, Seb Larsson. The only thing he seems to add to the team is free kicks. But it's actually been over a year since he scored one (Peterborough, FA Cup 3rd Rd) and think of the players who can strike a free kick. Craig Gardner, Adam Johnson, Phil Bardsley, James McClean and others. The rest of Seb Larsson is just run, run and lose the ball. Why again did we sell Meyler?
Stephane Sessegnon and his non existent end product...
We all love him, but why? Are we all blinded by his success last season? Or are we blinded by his little flicks and twirls that make him look good? The point is, apart from a few flashes, he has done nothing for us this season. Lets look at his goals:
1. Fulham (A). OK, it was a wonder strike and probably should have been goal of the month but it wasn't. It's one of them goals where it was good, but if RVP or Rooney had scored it, we'd still be talking about it now.
2. West Brom (H). It was an open goal. My missus could have scored that! (If she existed...)
3. Reading (H). It was decent. Reminiscent of Ji Dong-Won's late winner against City last year.
4. West Brom (A). So after 10 games of nothing, a deflection from Jonas Olsson got him a goal. Nothing spectacular.
5. Fulham (H). After Adam Johnson's... whatever it was, Sess provided a neat finish into the bottom left corner.
FIVE goals. FIVE! Hardly spectacular from the... whatever he is. If we lost him, I actually wouldn't really be fussed. But, among all the criticism, I will say one thing. EVERY goal we score, one way or another, comes from him.
Martin O'Neill and his non existent attacking style of play...
The climax of our article comes here. Mr O'Neill. Why oh why do you not play for the win. The games we should have won but haven't are ridiculous.
1. Swansea (A). We were in front TWICE. They had TEN men. And the last ten minutes was them charging forward, going for the win. Was one, could have been three.
2. Liverpool (H). One nil up. Park the bus. Suarez scores. Liverpool all over us but 11 men in the box saves our blushes.
3. West Ham (A). One nil up. Park the bus. Nolan scores at the end. Should have won.
4. Everton (A). One nil up. Park the bus. The 70s proves to be our collapse as Everton score 2 and get the victory.
5. Tottenham (H). One nil up. Park the bus. 5 minutes into 2nd half and they are in the lead. Should have gotten more.
I think I have sussed O'Neill out. If we play a good team, we will rely on an early goal. If the early goal doesn't come, push everybody back, take the battering and hope to God, Allah, Buddha, Moses and every other religious person that we get a point. If the early goal does come, push everyone back and hope for the win. If we play a bad/our level team, same procedure, except we don't stop till the goal comes. But 1-0 is not a sturdy enough lead. If we are settling for 17th and above this season, we need to aim for bigger things.
I'm Warrick Hunt. Leave your thoughts below.