“Jerome hadn’t trained all week because he had a tight hamstring and I just didn’t think that the system we chose would have suited Gary Hooper – and Lewis Grabban has trained very well since we came in.”
Archives for January 2015
It will be interesting to see if the manager perceives Sebastien Bassong’s reintegration into the fold, and impressive hour for the Under-21s, as sufficient for him to be thrown into the heat of battle at St Andrews. As ever, with him, it will boil down to attitude.
The JTW gives a chance for the out-of-favour, perennial bench warmer to resurrect their flagging career in a new and stimulating environment; Daniel Ayala to Middlesbrough, Elliott Ward to Forest and Jacob Butterfield to Palace being recent examples.
The more the Neil regime stutters a la Brentford, the more the Adams reign starts to shine. Not perhaps as the brightest star in the managerial firmament, but it will beg ever more pressing questions as to why, exactly, the former Youth coach was pointed in the direction of the gang-plank.
Despite his valiant and laudable attempt to deflect the attention away from Steven Whittaker’s difficult afternoon, Master Neil must privately question his decision to plonk his second-choice right-back into the centre of midfield. It backfired horribly.
“He was asked to play a role that he’s not usually accustomed to playing and I thought he worked his socks off for the group. I didnt think he did particularly poor – to be honest, he was the least of my concerns today.”
Brentford are a good side, make no mistake, and a record of seven wins from their last ten league games confirms as much. They will arrive full of confidence and off the back of an impressive win at the Amex.
Neil hasn’t said anything which has jarred or rung alarm bells – and while the absence of a foot in the mouth may not sound like a big plus point, it’s actually hugely important. You may not be able to win everyone over straight away, but you can certainly lose them if you’re not careful.
It’s hard not to have that thumping baseline from Another one bites the dust in your head at this time. Joe Royle, Mark Robson and now Phelan all hardly had time to unpack their suitcases before heading back out of Norfolk
The perception in 2015 is that football management is becoming increasingly youthful in outlook – Eddie Howe, Garry Monk, Brendan Rodgers just three examples. Counter to that is 65 year-old Arsene Wenger or Harry Redknapp at 66.
Neil is not someone afraid to throw the kids in early – which is one, big reason Saints are where they are. And why Master McGrandles might have some fun before this season is out.
As an attacking unit Neil will have seen ample yesterday to convince him the task in hand is an achievable one and, with two of three key figures coming into some timely good form, the tools at his disposal will have likely whetted the appetite.
“This is only the start. I’ve only been in with the players three days in terms of full days training. And if I can get more of those first 60 minutes, then I’ll be really pleased…”
The size of the step up is a big one, but I’m hoping, rather than expecting, he will have the galvanizing effect that Gary Rowett has had on a Birmingham side that has been rising up the table since their young boss joined from Burton Albion.
Cardiff will head east with a spring in their step because last week their owner Vincent Tan decided to change the club’s colours back to blue.
To be the much fabled ‘best squad in the league’ – as alluded to by Eddie Howe – they need to display a hunger and work-rate to match. And over 25 games we have seen too little of both.
Neil has the ‘chiselled from granite’ look of someone who will be more than happy to wade in and sort any kind of lingering background unrest out. I’m also sure he has a hairdryer in his armoury and by all accounts he’s a tough cookie.
There appeared to be a lot of confusion about how we should reorganise. Alex Neil was in the technical area, but Phelan, Three Lungs and goal-keeping coach Tony Parks were giving instructions too and Russ Martin, the skipper, made at least two return trips to the side of the pitch for clarification.
The new manager had been offered a reasonable snapshot of City’s season. Some decent possession, some decent football but a horrible knack of switching off in the defensive third when it really matters.
“The game has had a few twists and turns and obviously the sending off is a huge turning point. I was actually enjoying up in the stands up until that point, but obviously then everything changed.”