By Mike Courtney
Right, let's get yesterday out of the way first. Yes it was humiliating, yes it was embarrassing and yes there are some players wearing the shirt that just aren't up to scratch. An awful lot has been written already about the hammering Wednesday doled out to us. The fact that it was live on Sky for all to see makes the defeat harder to take. Already the doom and gloom merchants are out and some are even calling for the head of BMAC. I read one comment from a fan on this site saying that "I reckon Colin, with the backing BM's had, would have done better than this".
How quickly he forgets that it was "Colin" that assembled most of the squad that we are now lumbered with and that the humiliating defeats against Watford and Forest came under his watch. Also if Warnock was still in charge he would be blaming everyone but himself. At least BMAC is man enough to say that he got the formation wrong. And how wrong it was. Playing 3 centre backs with only 2 central midfielders left us exposed to the quick counter attack for which we were well and truly punished. If BMAC wants to persist with the 3 at the back he has to play 3 in the middle to protect them. Bringing in the two new boys and leaving Ross isolated up front on his own was a mistake.
If he wanted to play the new signings then 4-4-2 with Smith up alongside Ross should have been the obvious choice. No point in having wide men swinging in crosses to one of the smallest men on the park. When I saw the line up I could not for the life of me figure out what formation we were going to play. We essentially had 4 wide men on the team with no target to aim for.
An awful lot went wrong yesterday, what could go wrong did go wrong. I was sat watching approaching half time thinking if we can get in at just one down the changes will be made and we would have a shot. As it happened we were lucky to go in just 2 down and when Smith was red carded at the start of the second half I texted a friend and said it could be 5 or 6. Sadly I was right. The manager and the players do have a lot of soul searching and thinking to do because if we don't get this turned around fairly quickly the season will be gone from us by the end of the month.
The players and management have a great chance to redeem themselves and get the season back on track with the visit of table-topping Leicester to Elland Road next week. The form that we are in since just before Christmas doesn't auger well but we have seen this before from teams in this League that when they are up against it that is when they pull a result out of the fire. That's what needs to happen next weekend. Bmac has to get his team selection right. Smith will be missing, the appeal against his red card will fail because it was merited, so we he will have to find a partner for Ross up front. It will most likely be a straight choice between Varney and Poleon, neither of whom have set the world on fire this season. Byram has to come in at right back, Peltier just doesn't do it for me. Take any 2 from Lees, Zaliukas and Pearce at Centre Back and though Danny Pugh has impressed as a wing back I would bring back Warnock in a flat back four.
I wasn't convinced by the two new signings yesterday but as they were thrown in at the deep end in a flawed formation I reckon they should get another shot against the league leaders to show what they can bring to the team. Centre midfield is a problem. Alex Mowatt looked slow and burnt out yesterday as did Rudy. Our options are limited. We need someone who can control the game and unfortunately we just don't have that player. Luke Murphy doesn't impose himself on the game enough, Brown and Tonge are well past their sell by date and Paul Green is just returning from injury. We need energy in that department and with Rudy doing his Jeckyll and Hyde impressions of late we just don't have that type of player. This is where investment is required. We need a player with vision, skill, pace, power and the ability to control proceedings. We were overrun yesterday by a very average team and I shudder to think what will happen against the runaway league leader if we don't get the formation, attitude and desire right before next weekend.
There is a lot of work to be done this week by the management, the players and the money men. We should be able to compete in the market now with the alleged new investment, yet all we have to show for it is two loanees. True investment means bringing in quality players that are badly needed. A commanding defender, a quality play maker in the middle of the field and a goal scorer to ease the burden on RossMac. Now is the time to do it before the season gets away from us and we hear those dreaded words "We are building for next season".
There is still hope. A good run of results can see us make the top six. There was true optimism before Christmas that this could be our year. A string of bad results and poor performances has severely dented that optimism but I think the season can still be saved. I do think BMAC is the right man to get us there. He needs to reinvigorate the squad with quality signings and he needs to do it now. There will be no new additions before the Leicester game so he knows what he has to work with. Hopefully he will earn his wages and get the squad back to where we were in December. The players need to stand up and fight for the shirt and the club and the fantastic support that they are getting. Now is the time to get our season going again. Can we do it? That remains to be seen. Its along way between now and the end of the season. The next few games are season defining. I can only hope that by the end of January we will still have something to play for and won't be looking over our shoulders at the wrong end of the table.
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