Kenny McLean had a superb game in midweek against a Hull City side who didn’t pay attention when doing their homework, allowing him the time and space he needed to do his best impression of famous NFL quarterbacks Dan Marino and Joe Montana.***
At the DW Stadium on Saturday, he got no room whatsoever and, being Kenny, the phrase After the Lord Mayor’s Show has never been more relevant as, along with Gaby Sara, our deeper-lying midfielders fell victim to the Maloney Press which to me harked back to the days of: you’re better equipped to play football than we are so we’ll do everything we can to stop you.
And while you’re here, we’ll make sure your front players spend 95% of the game with their backs to goal as you haven’t got the physicality or invention to stop us from doing just that.
And oh boy, did it work. Stop us? We never got started.
I must admit, I haven’t been bothered to watch the 6:31 version of the highlights from Norwich City Official that Gary mentioned yesterday. Anybody unfortunate enough to have witnessed the 1:51 of the Sky version will have seen that re-runs of our defensive errors occupied over half that time.
Mitigation is there for Grant Hanley (above) on the first of these though as the ball took a wicked spin away from him as it bounced awkwardly on what looked to be a pretty ropey pitch. This set Callum Lang free more than any ineptitude from the big Scot but it needed slo-mo for me to spot just how wicked the bounce was.
The stats claimed that we had 65% possession and just the one shot on target, so excuse me if I temporarily think I’m writing after Bristol City again but the difference is that against the Robins our “shot on target” featured on the highlights clip. I’m b*ggered if I can find it this time around!
Shots, whether or not on target, often tend to come from strikers. As I write it is unclear whether either Teemu Pukki or Josh Sargent will be fit to face Birmingham tomorrow night. If not, we are left with the prospect of playing Adam Idah solo in the role. Despite David Wagner claiming that Marcelino Nunez and Liam Gibbs [what!] can play as a striker, he has already ruled out involving any of the youngsters, so it looks like you could be on your own Adam!
Key issues among our support right now are tending to focus on the amount of money that was put together to assemble this disjointed squad – and how much more our players are paid than some of our rivals. I’m not claiming to be privy to precise figures [don’t believe anybody outside the club who claims they know exactly what individuals’ salaries are] but take it from me that, say, Luton, Millwall and Sunderland pay their first team squads considerably less than we pay ours.
Why highlight these three clubs, you might wonder. Because they are all above us in the EFL Championship table, that’s why. There are plenty more teams below us in the table who pay their players far less than we do and that’s for sure.
Back on the grass, there is also a feeling extant that Gunny Jnr did more than enough in this match to finally make the Number One position his own until the season’s end and hopefully well beyond that if Stuart Webber doesn’t succumb to a fistful of Rangers’ Scottish fivers.
More and more fans by the minute are coming around to the idea of the reset that many of us here on MFW have been advocating for quite some time now. It becomes clearer with every passing game [whether we win, lose or draw] that this squad is unbalanced in so many ways, adding up to a level of inconsistency in terms of results that have not been seen since Hanoverian hygiene inspectors turned over the icehouse at Mrs. Miggins’ Pie Shop.
And as we all know, inconsistency does not lend itself to achieving promotion in this or any other season.
Those with knowledge of accountancy and the intricacies of the financial side of football will ascribe to applying reason to the often asked and sometimes derided question posed by those without this specialised knowledge [folks like me]: where’s the bleedin’ money gone?
I haven’t asked this question for several seasons now as it has been plain to see what has happened, even to a fiscal numbskull like me. But now seems around about the right time to risk the tut-tutting of the fiscally aware fraternity and ask it again.
I’ve declared above that I am aware of our relatively high wage costs, especially in terms of the Championship. The £66million debt remains, borrowed against parachute payments and we have no bloodstock to sell that is of any real worth. In other words, we appear to be skint. Webber’s “buy to sell in the future” policy is blown out of the water.
And how will he operate against this background?
To the best of my knowledge, he’s never had to work from this kind of position before and it will be interesting to see what way he leaps. We’ll find out in the fullness of time, which in this case is only about three months distant.
In the meantime most NCFC-minded folks that I speak with live in dread of Webber overseeing and particularly getting his hands dirty with our summer recruitment. I must admit that I’m very much one of the gang in this case.
*** I’m sure there are other quarterbacks of the modern era who are just as good as Dan and Joe but as I dislike American “football” with a passion I don’t know who they are [Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Joe Borrow – Ed]. I’m only aware of the two I mention because I’ve seen them both interviewed on NBC or suchlike and they were interesting enough not to make me want to change channels.
This kind of sums our season up: