What The Gaffer Said
Saturday's game represented the first occasion that Sam Allardyce has achieved a point from a game since arriving at the club, and although he was happy to take that result in the end he was disappointed not to win the game.
I’m disappointed we couldn’t take all three points from the game, but I think after how it panned out we’re happy to take the point.
When we lost that early goal, we easily could have lost the game, but we stayed in it and overcame that difficult spell where we lost our nerve a bit.
We finally passed our way back into the game and scored a very good goal at a crucial time. From there it could have been anybody’s game.
However, neither team took it and Bournemouth will be more satisfied with that result than we are as we still find ourselves in the bottom three.
From where we’ve come from today and since I’ve been at the club, this is the first point we’ve gained after falling behind, so there are one or two positives to take.
We changed things around just before half time to put [Jeremain] Lens out wide and [Adam] Johnson in the middle and that changed the game in our favour. We saw more of the ball and then the goal followed. It was a fantastic finish from Patrick [van Aanholt].
It’s just a shame we couldn’t find a final ball to Jermain Defoe like we did against Aston Villa and Swansea; had we found that ball we could have ended up winning.
One or two other players had chances today, particularly Billy Jones’ header, which forced a tremendous save from their keeper.
Overall, we are disappointed, but the point is well-earned.
The last line just about sums it up for me too. Towards the end of the second half I felt Bournemouth were there for the taking and instead of going for it we elected to make some fairly defensive decisions.
Long Ball After Long Ball After Long Ball...
Just when I thought we might have stumbled across a way to get the best out of Jermain Defoe we appear to have completely reverted to type. The quality of the football on Saturday - and the service we got to our striker - was poor. After five minutes or so of the game we were punting the ball long to try and relieve pressure and it seemed that nobody was telling the players to try and get on the ball and do something different.
Sometimes playing long has it's advantages, particularly against opposition where maybe their midfield aren't going to challenge quickly for the second ball, but Saturday just wasn't the time to be doing it. Lens and Johnson struggled to close down their defenders when they had the ball, meaning whenever we played it forward and their defenders fielded the ball away, we were immediately back on the defensive.
I know Sam's style isn't always particularly pretty, but we really needed an outlet up top if we were going to play long ball football and we did nothing to change it.
Bringing On Rodwell Poses Many Questions
When we made a particularly defensive change late in the game, bringing off Jeremain Lens in place of Jack Rodwell, I have to admit that I was slightly perplexed as to why. Did Sam not trust his team to protect the draw? Was a point enough, even at a time when we looked like we could have taken something more from the game towards the end?
I can't argue with his thought process if it was indeed because he felt he needed to further protect the fact we were drawing the game - we've seen many times recently that the players are incapable of holding onto a lead or a point, and often capitulate when we look set to take something from the game.
On the left, though? I have to admit that I found that odd.
The fans weren't happy when it appeared that Rodwell was coming on, mainly because it was such an obviously negative change when we seemed to have some momentum in the game.
Lack Of Attacking Options Showed - Badly
I'm not sure whether or not going forward we'll be reverting to playing a five man defence, but as of now Sam seems to like the three man attack line behind Defoe. When they play well, great. Against Villa and Swansea the players in behind Defoe worked well and won us the points.
On Saturday, they struggled, and when I looked to the bench to see who Sam might try and change things up with he only had one option in Duncan Watmore.
Don't get me wrong, I think Duncan has a massive future here and the way he exploded onto the scene towards the end of 2015 was great. The lad has grafted his balls off to get a chance here and nobody recognises just how difficult that must have been more than me. That said, he's gone off the boil recently and I've pondered whether or not him being thrust into a relegation scrap is doing him any favours.
If we had more quality in the wide positions I think I'd be advocating perhaps letting him go out on loan to a Championship side until the end of the season. The problem, as always, is that in terms of backup options he's all that we've got.
Bringing in another attacking midfielder in this window should be viewed as a priority.