Saturday, 13 February 2010
Another Test Of Zola's Judgement & Powers Of Motivation
Another day, another MASSIVE game. We came through the test on Wednesday but can we now do what we have failed to do all season, put together back to back wins in the league?
Remember the optimism following the Villa game? Remember the excitement, the feeling that we would kick on and leave our relegation fears behind us? Well along came Everton and our bubble was well and truly burst. Remember, at the time, we would have gone above the Toffees had we won that game and that they arrived at the Boleyn in a Variety bus because so many of their players were in wheel chairs. Zola picked the wrong team with the wrong tactics and Moyes sent his side out to do a smash and grab number on us, his players hanging around like a bunch of hoodies on a street corner for 89 minutes, but stealing the game in the one minute that our back four were looking in the wrong direction.
Well we have a carbon copy now. Our peckers are up after the victory over Birmingham and Hull will arrive arrive scripted as lambs to the slaughter. The trouble is, Hull City, and Brown in particular, will have a different script.
In truth, man for man, we had the stronger side on Wednesday. Birmingham do not have anybody of the class of Cole, Upson or Parker; and in Diamanti we have a "special" talent that is scarce in the Prem as a whole, never mind outside the top 4. I'm not saying the guy would get into the Chelsea or Man Utd teams but I am saying that he can conjure something from nothing and so is invaluable to a club in our position. Go back to that Everton game and it is significant that Zola left Diamanti on the bench until well into the second half, preferring Jimenez instead. Of all his bad, bad decisions this season, that has to be one of the worst!
But if, man for man, we are stronger than Birmingham, why are they one point from guaranteed safety whilst we are two points off being second from bottom? Well, uncomfortable though this is for Zola fans, it is down to poor decisions and tactics by the manager.
Why did we win on Wednesday? Sullivan will argue it was down to his motivational trick of threatening salary cuts, but the truth is that Zola changed his tactics in a dramatic way. Not only did we play 4-4-2, but, for maybe the first time this season, we started with two left footed players on the left and two right footed players on the right. Now how basic is that? But Zola has failed to do it all season, even though I have been banging on about it since the season kicked off. Why did it work? Because suddenly it was an option to use the full width of the pitch, rather than having to play down the middle.
Why was Parker able to win that free kick? Because there was space to run into, rather than the centre of the pitch resembling a tube train on the central line at 8a.m. on a Monday morning. How did we score the second? Faubert went to the byline and used his right foot to send in a cross from the right. How simple and straightforward is that? Yet Zola, for some perverse reason, has ignored this basic tactic all season.
We are in this mess at the moment for three reasons:
1) We failed to secure another striker in the summer, wasting time and money on Jimenez as Zola chased his 4-3-3 dream
2) Cole was injured and we had no replacement striker
3) Zola has continually picked a right footed player on the left and a left footed player on the right.
Why are we in this mess? Because of bad decision making by the manager!
What will Zola do against Hull? Well I would be amazed if he makes the same mistake he made against Everton. He must stick with a winning formula, retaining 4-4-2, with Diamanti on the left and a right footer on the right. Ilunga may be out, so the need for Diamanti on the left becomes all the more pressing because Spector cannot cross off his left foot. I would pick Ilan or Franco (if fit) ahead of Mido personally but, otherwise, I would stick with the same team.
Man for man, we were stronger than Birmingham but, man for man, we were stronger than Blackburn, Burnley and Pompey too. Will Zola pick the right team and motivate the side sufficiently, or will we wilt in front of the roaring Tigers? Hull are playing above their ability, we are playing below ours. That is down to the manager, pure and simple. In Zola we trust? Let's hope that trust isn't misplaced! We MUST defeat Hull. Logic says we should. The situation demands we do. Zola, it's down to you!
Posted by Hammersfan at 11:55