12 points dropped against the teams we were relegated with… No big deal.
The wake-up call though is that Watford should have scored four or five last night.
Everything I fret about with 4-2-3-1 was exploited by the Cherries and the Hornets; Danjuma is a £13 million player and Max Aarons couldn’t contain him and against Watford, Sarr, a £25m winger, skinned Xavi Quintilla every single time.
But let me be clear… it is not the fault of our fullbacks that they were isolated against the best wingers in the league. Watford was a classic case that for 4-2-3-1 to function against Premier League quality, then that #10 role is critically important.
Kieran Dowell was a passenger against Watford. We can see his qualities developing but I see little from him defensively. Their front three left us chasing shadows, while their experienced midfield three3 contained us reasonably easily.
Danjuma, Sarr… these are, man-for-man, better players than we have. They are bigger, faster, more emphatic in their output than our fleet-footed magicians. Against guys like this, you need to change your shape, or you need to buy players that can match them physically.
This was personified late in the second half when Todd Cantwell was ruthlessly hunted down after 10-yards by Andre Grey despite Todd having a five-yard head start! A clattering tackle but completely fair. Todd and Dowell will need to go toe-to-toe physically before they will be able to express themselves technically and perform to their best.
Had Mario Vrancic been in the weights room two years ago, he’d have looked good even in the Premier League. We have, without question, amazing potential and I fully believe in this team next season, but there is nothing wrong with adding even more quality.
Todd is only challenged by Przemysław Placheta. Dowell is only pushed by Marco Stieperman. McLean only by Luka Rupp. Teemu Pukki has no competition at all. We need to help these lads.
Politely, we have no Premier League depth in this squad, no game-changers on the bench.
We will be champions and we should be an attractive proposition. I really feel that without Oliver Skipp, we will be in a perilous position before a ball is kicked, so Alex Mowatt is still my first draft pick: a deep playmaker with goals and the energy and leadership to match.
But then this team really does need more goals: Todd is a magnificent talent, very capable in our system, but that doesn’t make him perfect. Danjuma has scored 14 from Todd’s position, a similar marker of productivity to even Buendia.
Likewise, does Buendia fulfill his maximum potential from the right? If you play Emi centrally as the #10, I believe we can fill the wider positions with more goals, more pace, more power….because we likely won’t be playing a second striker, will we?
But in this core group and in the management I still trust. Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber will have a plan and I can’t wait to see it.