Half time and the scores read:
Millwall 2 Southampton 1
Leeds 0 West Ham 0
Barnsley 0 Reading 0
That would have done me. If only we could have called the whole thing off! Yes we drew and there's no shame in a point at Elland Road, especially with our record against Leeds, but just as I warned before kick off, so much hinged on this round of fixtures. Our game was the toughest of the three it is true, but the trouble is, both Southampton and Reading sent out massive statements of intent today, whilst we just stumbled along as before. The Saints showed amazing spirit to come from behind twice away to Millwall, whilst Reading's result at Barnsley was frightening. Both of our rivals drilled in goals for fun and yet again, we needed a set piece to get on the score sheet.
I didn't see the game so I will simply quote from Radio London's commentary. It was very illuminating because it echoed everything I have been saying all season!
Here are the key soundbites.
"Nicky Maynard has looked pretty ineffective so far. Not that I blame him because the supply has been pretty awful. Maynard works better for me with a big man alongside him."
"I don't like how narrow West Ham are. They've got five in the middle of the park and you can literally throw a blanket over them. You can't play that way."
"If you're going to play one man up front and narrow, your full backs have got to be flying machines. And West Ham's full backs are playing more defensive minded."
"When you look at West Ham's midfield, there's too much of a muchness...there's too many players the same doing the same thing. That's why they don't create anything."
"The only way West Ham are going to score is from a set piece".
"Warnock is going for it far more than Allardyce".
"It's just too hopeful. You might as well keep the ball rather than keep lumping it in."
With the introduction of Morrison: "I don't see how the youngster can influence the game with just nine minutes to go."
When Leeds scored. "Unmarked for the third ball in a row."
"I don't think West Ham set up positively enough to win the game."
"It was Warnock who took positive steps to get a result".
"To be fair to the full backs you would have had to have a radar to pick out one of your forwards today."
"I wonder how the West Ham fans feel about the lack of positive intent. I don't understand one man up front, particularly Maynard."
"It's Gary O'Neil, he's got players inside the penalty box. Ooh dear, looped cross."
Allardyce will talk about a good point and a great fighting spirit and bemoan injuries, missed chances and say you can't give away soft goals, but he won't address the real issues - his shit team selection, his shit tactics, his own negative mentality which infects the players and the total lack of quality in the team - because of his shit recruitment policy.
There's still no balance in the team. There's still no width. There's still no goal scoring threat other than from set pieces. Once again, Allardyce shuffled his forward pack and once again failed to pair either Maynard or Baldock with Cole. Why? Because he has to accommodate Nolan. But the team doesn't dominate when Nolan plays. We pinch goals, we pinch points, we even pinch the odd win, but we don't steamroller teams like Southampton and Reading. And we play Boro and Reading at home shortly, with both looking to contain and hit us on the counter. Tell me, who is going to unlock their defences?
It's now eight wins from nine for Reading. What did I say about the Theory of Momentum this morning?