Final flaws non fatal but foreboding
After the victory, celebrate.
After that analyze, and ideally learn.
And there are many many lessons to be learned from that historic final.
Once again, and before the criticisms begin, I offer wholehearted congratulations to the entire footballing department on their world record achievement.
A dozen straight is one hell of a trophy haul, well done everyone.
But for the record I never wish to witness another performance like that again.
Jekyll and Hyde would have been proud of that performance.
The much vaunted changes happened, meaning even before a ball had been kicked Lenny had upped the pressure on himself, a victory fully necessary to vindicate the selections. An impressive victory necessary to show the manager knows best.
He didn’t get it.
He was 45 minute’s away from it though.
After a good first half where we showed plenty enough drive and commitment, going in ahead at the break and looking comfortable, the same again was needed.
Another half similar to the first would have left the support gobsmacked witnessing the old guards renaissance, and with zero criticisms at all to level.
The first 15 mins of the second half was always going to be mighty important. A fool could have known Robbie would fire up his troops for the big push, would attempt to implement new tactics with the aim of gaining a foothold in the game, had nothing to lose by switching it up.
Lenny needed to anticipate this, and react first by preparing the troops for the sure to come renewed vigour.
Full concentration from the whistle, keep it tight for the next 15 to frustrate them, no silly fouls and cut out crosses as if your very life depended upon it should be the cry.
It took three minutes for the breach, a terrible time to concede as now there’s a rejuvenated team with an entire half at their disposal.
And a header at that with four six and a half footers contained within the back five. Tells me our positioning was poor.
Now we are in a real fight, have lost the ascendancy, and need cajoled.
Its time to be on your feet on that touchline balling instructions, first and foremost to your Captain who doubles as your screening midfielder and secondly to your target man that his movement and ball retention are crucial during this period.
They will pressure and as soon as we transition he needs to show bigtime.
His opposite number reacted to his teams growing belief by injecting a pacey forward at a midfielders expense, ballsy, but it almost immediately paid off with the equaliser coming within ten minutes.
We responded by withdrawing an attacking midfielder on form only to replace him with another attacking midfielder.
The player who in my humble opinion was by far the poorest on the pitch lasted until extra time to be replaced.
If I don’t see Odsonne in the strip again I would be happy.
He clearly wanted to go in the summer, very bloody nice of him seeing that the team who made him are going for a once in a lifetime prize. But it didn’t happen.
So like most professionals out there you ply your trade to the best of your ability anyway and try to enjoy life, being thankful to be a millionaire so young when many are hurting.
And you especially repay the faith shown by the manager in you with his selection as you know you haven’t been putting in a full shift, but here is the ideal opportunity to repair the rift, let the feet do the talking, and show the world you’re a good footballer worth investing in.
He got the highlight reel penalty, and I recall one big dribble, but what we seen is typical Eddy this year.
The minimum, and if it’s on a plate sure but work hard? Non mon amie.
Yet he lasts to extra time.
On the bench we either had Mr ‘He totally hates the Hearts’ Griffiths who has a black mark to remove regarding his lack of readiness for this season. This game was made for him, and it showed.
We also had Mr Paddy ‘Bustagut’ Klimala.
My theory is he isn’t suited to the regular SPL home games as teams tend to sit back which nullifies him being an on the shoulder striker. But a Cup Final on that big wide pitch against an attack minded adversary is his type of game. And what better way to say I’m worthy of playing more than doing well and/or scoring in a historic high pressure game?
Meanwhile Ajeti the big money striker who we actually own and in theory should be leading our line wasn’t on the bench, may be injured maybe not, and come Christmas has hardly been seen, great endorsement of our transfer strategy.
The midfielder considered supporting striker, Moi, had a quiet to poor game to boot.
Upfront, it never happened with Eddy on the park, once again.
I don’t believe it will with him ever again, he has lost his motivation and I would cut our loses next month. The eejit has cost himself a fortune with his stroppiness, for no top team would touch him I believe, whereas once that was his trajectory.
So while we were essentially a man down up top leaving us with no striker of substance, their third striker was the games standout tactical masterstroke.
Instructed to stand on the byline just in the sweet spot between defence and midfield, too far to draw the right back forward and too deep to gain the midfields full attention, he simply collected wide and ran at pace towards our new right-back.
Kris isn’t slow but that exposed him majorly.
Neil did react to this by bringing on Frimpong to match pace and assist on the right flank, but by then the damage was done. Ginelly has showed the SPL how to exploit Kris now so I expect others to attempt it. The coaching staff had best start looking for an answer, and winter camp would be the ideal time to work on it.
Speaking of coaching Stevie Woods has a lot of work to do. The lad between the sticks is very raw, there were too many rash decisions to be comfortable, although the script was written for him to have the hero month, written by myself in fact.
The facts are he is probably too raw to stick with, but, he is carrying all that momentum and now more self belief.
I think we lose with Barkas between sticks, or Bain, but the third option is far from perfect. He either ups his game which is possible with intensive training one on ones etc, or his dream start ends in tatters back on the bench in a no the or so. Tough spot for the kid who might allow that to get to him, and tough in general for you, me and the sieve in particular who now don’t know who the keeper will be any given game.
If we are sticking with Hazard, then stating it publically might be wise as it lets everyone know where they stand.
Ironically winning a final has given us a bigger keeper selection headache and no clear direction in that department, only Celtic eh.
So in sealing the victory there’s enough for the op-TIM-ist and with the disjointed display the others got plenty ammo.
Its more or less a case of ‘as you were’ but we actually were two saves away from seeing a mob outside the Park demanding Lennys head, that’s how fine the margins are these days.
In a season full of subpar performances, a Cup Final is not the time to turn out one of your worst halves yet, despite the salvage job at the end.
To lose a two goal lead in a final with very much the superior players at your disposal is at best concerning, but given our season unsurprising.
To see a tactical switch work wonders against us will surprise no one who has watched this team try to qualify for Europe the last few years.
And to rely on individual players producing a couple moments of magic to bail you is very much Neils style this time around.
The Cup Final, although ultimately a success, revealed our managers numerous flaws to the world, if you care to look.