One Step Forward, 0.75 Steps Back...
Our complete inability to follow up a good result with another good result really frustrates me, as I’m sure it does everyone reading this and indeed Chris Coleman, who after last night’s defeat lamented the performance and said that it certainly wasn’t down to bad preparation why we just weren’t in the game for the first hour.
Luckily for us there are a gaggle of other teams down the bottom that are as bad as we are - though on the two viewings of Birmingham I’ve had this season, I’d be hugely surprised if they are down there with us, and I’d get them out of our minds when considering who is going to be in the relegation fight at the tail end of the season.
Tactically I thought we were disappointing. This wasn’t the same team that played on the front foot against Hull and looked sharper and quicker - this was the team we’ve seen for the most-part this season that couldn’t string together two passes and clearly had no plan in the way we were supposed to be playing.
I lost count of the amount of aimless hoofs forward to the heads of Joel Asoro and Josh Maja there were, which was fairly indicative of the performance as a whole.
It was obvious by half time that changes were needed and Chris Coleman didn’t recognise this quick enough, instead waiting until the result was out of our reach before bringing players on that could make a difference. I’m a huge fan of the Sunderland boss, but I thought he had an evening as bad as his players for once - though I’m sure he’ll learn from it because he’s a very competent manager.
Positive Signs From LuaLua
Though it’s very easy to play when you’re 3-0 down, I thought Kazenga LuaLua was very impressive when he came on.
He picked up the ball in pockets of space and attempted to commit defenders and create, something that had been missing from our play throughout the hour we played before he came on.
Aiden McGeady was similarly impressive and Bryan Oviedo was buoyed by their introduction, playing very high up the pitch and causing Birmingham issues with his movement and commitment.
I feel like playing on the floor and on the front foot will come good for us more often than not, and that away from home we aren’t particularly suited to sitting deep and playing long, direct football. With a raft of new signings coupled with the return of a couple of players giving Chris Coleman options now, it’ll be interesting to see if our approach changes.
New Keeper Needed
I’ve tried to be patient with Robbin Ruiter but it’s clear that he’s just not good enough.
He was abysmal for their first and third goals. It’s not just a one off - he makes mistakes like this every other game. We won’t stay up if we can’t rely upon our goalkeeper to be consistent.
The imminent signing of Andy Lonergan from Leeds United is a welcome one. He might not be perfect, but he’s experienced at this level and enjoys a close personal relationship with our assistant manager, whose judgement we have to trust.