Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Five problem areas

I know from the comments section on my post following the Tottenham game that some of you feel I was a little harsh on the side, but for me this current side have problem areas that need to be resolved to avoid a second half of the season where we could become embroiled in a relegation battle.

For the record, I cannot see us going down but they are problem areas nonetheless which in my opinion are holding us back from kicking on and becoming a competitive side:

Nicky Weaver:
Had Isaksson been fit at the start of the season, I don't believe that Weaver would have started as first choice. Due to the length of time Isaksson was out for, and the fact that he put in solid, if unspectacular performances it allowed Weaver a prolonged run in the side.
The worry for me is that he won't 'win' us games in the manner that Jaskelainen did for Bolton at Villa on Saturday. He is a decent shot stopper, but worries me on crosses and his positional play and he doesn't have the presence for me that David James showed.

Solid as a rock for the majority of the season but for the last three games (since Watford) they have been all at sea. Dunne looks cumbersome and error-prone whilst Distin's concentration does not look good enough, resulting in basic mistakes. It has been commented upon that he is not interested as he has a move lined up in January. Hopefully this is not true, as my views on Distin as a player are well known, but this pairing - the bedrock of our home form this season, needs to return to the high standards they have set.

No help for Barton:
Perhaps the reason for much of the England and transfer focus on Joey Barton is the cast he is surrounded by. Granted, he is in a rich vein of form currently but it is almost as if he is running the midfield all by himself. Reyna has been ineffectual, neither Dabo or Hamman have been fit enough and the left-hand side problems still remain. It almost makes you pine for the return of Trevor Sinclair. Barton needs to be surrounded with more consistency as currently he is our only attacking outlet. Stephen Ireland has promise but I'm not convinced he can sustain the level of form needed.

Lack of goals:
The first half against Tottenham illustrated our problems in attack as a poor Samaras was partnered by Dickov - who should not have been re-signed, with Vassell floundering out on the left. Bernardo Corradi was of course suspended but looks the most willing of the four, yet rumours persist of a return to Italy in the transfer window. You can virtually count on one hand the number of goals our striking quartet have tallied this season.
Ironically, this weekend we come against Bolton and of course Nicolas Anelka. All those who booed him during his time at City should take a good look at just what a class player he was (and still is), then take a look at who we have lined up front.

Squad depth:
For as much criticism that Pearce is receiving, the squad isn't big enough to withstand the injuries we have suffered, or provide viable alternatives should he want to shake things up. Although the board have stated money will be available, he will be more likely rumaging for bargains in the January sales rather than splashing out with abandon.
Looking at the players he has brought in to the club though, most have not been unparalleled successes - especially this summers acquisitions who have mostly been injured and struggled to fit it into the side.
It is difficult to know who Pearce can bring into the squad, but perhaps it may be that he gambles more an a couple of younger, but hungrier lower league players as opposed to short-term fixes.

I generally have remained positive for the majority of the season, and in all likelihood we could well go and pull a victory out against Bolton on Saturday, but for me we have yet to get away from the 'one step forward, one step back' cycle shown during the course of this year, which has seen us stagnate as a side.

vote it up!


Harry Hotspur said...

Hello mate, put you up on HH with a link* tonight.

*There's only one team in Manchester

All the best.


Wigan Blue said...

Struggling to look for positives from this one, other than JB, who by all accounts is moving on - after all the crap we had to put with while he was making up his mind.

Take the Captain's armband off Dunnymonster (who is distracted by it and whose game has suffered) and give it to JB - who obviously wants it, and let him sort them out. If he doesn't stay then stuff him - what can you expect?

Anonymous said...

Number of things here:

Firstly whoever negotiated the £5.5m get out clause for JB and the go when you get a better deal for Trabelsi serously needs their heads examining. These are non negotiations and given the protracted nature of JB's deal almost a no win situation for the club. It does make me wonder whether there is a similar deal in place for Micah.

The deal for a relatively untried Samaras is another gem. £6m for what? An unfinished diamond? Someone is most certainly having a laugh. Talk about squadering precious resources.

Reyna has his moments particularly when he is injury free and I can see Dabo coming good.

For me Isaksson is without doubt the better keeper and seems to have a lot more presence than Nicky but what are we doing trialing yet another keeper? Does SP have an obssession with keepers?

I can understand the interest in Billy Jones with Distins position in doubt but where is the creative midfielder we so desperately need?

SP's judgement of players is becoming more and more suspect and although I like the bloke I can't see him turning things around.

As for going down its a very distinct possibility. No new investment will come in if we are relegated. What was it that James and Cole were aware of that encouraged them to jump ship? The same oracle that pushed SWP out of the club?

Danny Pugsley said...

Anonymous - it's a good point made about James and Cole. Many of us (myself uncluded) thought that the contract (financially and length) may have been the main motivation behind their moves, but it could well be that they saw enough behind the scenes to see that trouble lay ahead.

I wasn't aware of the clauses in Barton and Trabelsi's contract, although the Trabelsi one wouldn't surprise me given the clubs he has been linked with in the past - and that I believe he has two pay scales depending on whether or not he is in the side.