Allardyce will be pleased but if every game was played like this, football would be dead as a spectator sport inside twelve months. Doctor Evil has the perfect excuse, of course - no Carroll, no Downing and no Cole - but he put this squad together and with the route one totem removed, we have no idea how to score.
True Diame forced a great save in the first five minutes and true we had a goal disallowed after Jarvis mistimed his run and so was caught offside, and true Collins blasted over when unmarked in the box after a superb pull back by Noble, but those moments apart, we had all the attacking intent of a pacifist convention in Switzerland. There was one game plan, and one game plan only, to keep Southampton out and hope upon hope that a scrap might fall to Nolan which he would take. Two did fall to him, but he made a hash of both.
The decision to play Diame out wide was a defensive ploy to nullify Shaw's forward runs and, outside of Noble and Morrison, we had nobody looking to create. Jarvis was hopeless with the ball all afternoon, Maiga was completely and utterly anonymous, Nolan did what Nolan does (without the vital finishing bit), Diame lumped every cross twenty yards over the head of everybody in the box and Vaz Te looked as hungry as a corpse when he replaced Mogadon Maiga. It really was a dire spectacle when we were in possession.
Without the ball, we were, for the most part, superb. The midfield pressed, harried, bit, spat, elbowed, nudged, rolled and fouled their way through the game, effectively suffocating Southampton's short passing game. At the back, a couple of gaffs apart in the first half, Collins was at his belligerent best and Reid again impressed. O'Brien picked up a stupid yellow high up the pitch with an ugly and unnecessary challenge but otherwise was excellent on both the right and left flank, and Demel was a beast until he went off injured. On came the appropriately named Rat who fitted in neatly.
The trouble is, we were hungry for the ball when the opposition had it and utterly clueless when they occasionally gave it to us. We can't survive drawing the remaining games 0-0 so something has to be done to make us more effective going forward and given the personnel problems, Allardyce might have to find a Plan B. An Allardyce Plan B, now there's an oxymoron!
By the way, Jussi was truly brilliant, with two utterly awesome saves and two others worthy of mention!
Player ratings: Jussi 10; Demel 6, Collins 7, Reid 8, O'Brien 7; Noble 8, Morrison 6; Diame 5, Nolan 6, Jarvis 5; Mogadon Maiga 0 Subs: Rat 7, Vaz Te 2, Taylor 5