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Saturday, November 11, 2006

A journey of a thousand miles...

...begins with a single point at City. And it certainly could have been worse, were it not for the almost universally stellar effort of one Mr. Harper - wonderful saves, yes, so wonderful that TDH will momentarily forget about him almost falling backwards into the post as the ball sailed over his head.

TDH saw two very different strategies on show. Psycho opted to throw everything at the Toon from the off, with constant pressure throughout the first half. Roeder decided to try and weather the storm, evidently hoping to tire City out, before putting on his speediest weapons. (This is known in TDH circles as the Rumble in the Jungle gambit.) It's something he's been doing all season - unfortunately, it often results in going behind, or leaving it too late.

Leaving it too late is what apparently happened this time, too. Our best five minutes were the last five minutes, where we had three good chances to score. Solano handled the ball the way Emre, inexplicably, couldn't. Dyer and Zog tore through the City defense, though Zog wasn't quite at his best. And Sibierski's backheel would have gone in on most days. Quite how some of the other chances were missed is a question for, well, Claudio Reyna. TDH was somewhat relieved that he won't be Captain America in 2010.

Looking back, TDH has to ask why Roeder insisted on his tire-then-fire strategy. Allow TDH to propose a different front six: Sibierski and Dyer up front, with Dyer off to the right a bit; then Duff, Solano, Emre and Parker a bit behind. Milner's a talent, to be sure, but he doesn't create chances the way Nobby does. Let Nobby play for an hour, then put on the reinforcements, right?

Chances were definitely a problem. By TDH's calculations, our Magpies went about 85 minutes without a shot on goal. Horrific. Amoeba earned his nickname, appearing to run in slow motion, though, it must be said, he didn't get the greatest of service. TDH can only be grateful that we didn't suffer too badly under the notoriously costly Poll Tax - just a bad call on Parker, early in the match, for what was one of the best sliding tackles TDH had ever seen. And Psycho and Roeder set a good example for Messrs Pardew and Wenger, as some mid-match handbags gave way to chummy hugs at the final whistle.

Ah well, draw away and win at home. If we can do that, we're as golden as the numbers on our shirts.


Anonymous jonathan said...

Dyer up front is a tempting propositon, what with his pace and direct approach.. but it's been tried before, and, other than that one freak cup-tie at Southampton when he scored two, I'm not sure it's ever really worked. The boy is just not a natural goalpoacher, as evidenced by that late opportunity, when he could only poke ineffectually from eight yards out, allowing the covering defender a chance to clear. I screamed with anguish at that moment, which was possibly not the best move in a south Manchester bar packed with Blues (although as you can see I lived to tell the tale..)

Good to see us creating those late chances, though, even if they seemed to me to come largely as a result of City throwing caution to the wind and leaving gaps for our midfield to exploit (which I thought they did admirably- some of the quickfire 2nd half interpassing, always involving Parker and Emre, belied our status as embattled trap-door fodder).

Overall I'm heartened by the performance. To continue the boxing analogy, this was another bout where the contender in the black-and-white corner went the distance and won comfortably on points.. just a shame football matches are decided on goals, which are in scarce supply for us right now...

9:12 PM  
Blogger Sportingo said...

Great article. Would you be interested in publishing some of your work on sports?

10:13 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Nice if depressing piece by Norman Hubbard on Soccernet, echoing many of my previous comments, e.g. the need to sign strikers and central defenders and wistful sighs for Sir Bob. I think I'm going to go and take a long, hot shower and wash words like "Yeovil" out of my head.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Palms said...

I can't believe we got bloody chelsea again.

Good article by Hubbard, although I don't remember many people sorry to see Gary Speed go at the time. His performances for Bolton far suppass any I saw in a black and white shirt.

7:44 AM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

so you guys might be getting Alan Smith. He might have a temper, but he's a good player, and will give you the committment you need. any thoughts?

2:48 PM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Oh, come now, Palms! Gary Speed was the poor man's Roy Keane! Our bruiser in the middle, our man to settle the game down, our, our....

Well, it's hard not to be nostalgic for those days. Or any other days. I watched a five-minute video of Laurent Robert on YouTube the other day, and I had tears in my eyes. No joke. And just watching Sibierski's bald pate matched with the black and white, I recalled the slashing runs of supersub Temuri Ketsbaia, the crazy Georgian who captured my footballing heart a decade ago....

Alan Smith? Of course we'll take Alan Smith. We'll take anyone who's ever played at striker. Hell, he can partner with Rossi and we can pretend to be Manure's feeder club. (Instead of the entire Premier League's cast-offs bin.)

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Palms said...

Wow AG, feeling nostalgic for the Dalglish days...Things really are quite desperate aren't they? Although I was watching a youtube clip of Tino beating Barcelona single handedly and did get quite misty eyed. Come back Daniel Cordone, all is forgiven!

1:38 AM  

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