I don't normal bother too much with the pre-season friendlies , but I thought with a new regime in place and a couple of new players I would take a little more notice. I could only get to one game on saturday, but managed to watch a couple on Internet streams.
I was looking forward to saturday's visit as this was an opportunity to get my children in for a game, in a couple of cases their first, leaving the shop a few quid lighter and the children proudly wearing their shirts, I felt very content with the world.
On to the game it was clear from the start Borussia Monchengladbach, were going to be tough customers and that we might be spending a lot more time on the back foot. The passing was very neat and fast from the German side, having no trouble to find their men, always getting behind the ball should they lose it, surrounding City players in numbers denying space and forcing mistakes.
But although they were good, City midfield did struggle to string anything reall worth while together, only showing brief glimpses of what we all know is there but we were clearly technically behind the opposition in many quaters, we had to be more workman like .
At times we looked disjointed, strangers to each other and strangers to what was being asked of them, despite the midfield playing most of last season toegther. Johnson was his usual hussling bussling self, trying to break up play but was often goping at thin air, not that he didn't put in a good shift; because I don't think he knows how not to. Howson was involved in just about everything we tried, Pilkington and Bennett really didn't get much of a service to pull wide, on the odd occassion they did we got what we expected.
Snoddgrass the player I was really looking forward to seeing, he has awareness, vision good passing ability, but isn't built for speed. He was played behind lone striker Holt trying to link midfield and striker. I can't say it worked, I have certainly seen Hoolahan do a much better job. When he was pulled wider in the second half, thats when he looked like the player we all hoped he would be.
Holt, tried to play his usual game, but sadly got hardly any service, he did get one good chance and everyone expected to see the net bulge, instead he headed tamely into the keepers waiting arms. But in truth he looked a lonely and out of it at times, I am not saying he didn't put the effort in as that would not be Grant Holt. He was shackled by two 6 foot plus denfenders so why continue to hit him with high ball, the poor buggar never stood much of a chance. He did perk up a little when Morison was brought on to share the role, and then I thought we started to have a familar ring to our play; far better than what we had seen.
I remember seeing Morison look exactly like Holt did when he played that role of being the lone striker, and goals were in short supply then. I know many teams in the Premier league adopt this and many other systems, but I am sure that they have brought in players who are specalised to play that way.
Sadly City cannot compete at that level of transfers, we have good honest hard working and skilfull players, but they have been groomed the English way, to make them fit a different system will take more time than what we have got.
Paul Lambert played his squad perfectly last season changing formation for differing games depending on the opposition, not sticking to any given line up all the time. From what I have seen Hughton and Co have been playing this one striker role more times than any other in the few games they have had.
I believe he has to play to the squad's strengths utilizing the best he can from what he has at his disposal, and personally I don't think it is the lone striker, especially with the personal he used Saturday; perhaps we should try the Spanish approach of no striker all midfielders 6 of them, we do have the players.
Turner looks a good buy, he looks quite solid, reads the game well, only downside I can see is a little slow; his experience will help Ryan Bennett no end, the two should forge a solid pairing, however the cover we have isn't so inspiring. Barnett came on for a leg stretcher and his first couple of passes went absolutle no where near a yellow shirt.
I am pleased to hear Hughton say he hasn't finshed in the transfer market, although time is fast ticking away. We do need cover in areas especially defence and perhaps hunting that Gold nugget of a striker, yes we have a few, but Jackson and Martin aren't renoun for hitting the net. Vaughan he has a l;ot to prove and was gobsmacked not seeing him start on saturday, he has scored the most this pre season. I thought you used who was on form.
It is early to say too much on how I think the season will go, but from what I have seen I believe it is going to be a hard one, perhaps slow to start and getting going; not too long so as a big gap appears, I hope we have enough to survive, but i feel it will be close.
"The end of the season won't be matter of fact and mundane"