Tonight’s The Night! – By Cliff
Posted on March 9, 2007
Filed Under Articles By Cliff
For once my ramblings are going to appear on the day of the game. Are you scared about tonight, worried or simply looking forward to it?
I have been relaxed about most games this year and this one is no different, I have to admit to being more worried about playing Sunderland and was glad when that one was over. Derby look to be in decent form but are they better than us?
I am going to assume that captain DJ will return for the game so I would assume the team will be slightly changed to bring him back in place of Larsson. That may be harsh on the lad and maybe I am wrong but I could see the sense of that. I think against the better teams we probably do need a more hard tackling midfield. I think there is a good case for both players.
Our performances are slightly weird for the last couple of home games, shocking first half but much improved in the second half, and at the end of the day we won. I do think we should come out and go at the opposition a little more from the start but if we win who cares?
I honestly thought Derby would start to drop a little but they seem to be getting better and are (apparently) getting results when they are not playing well when needed. In many ways they look they league winners, frankly they can have the league as long as we are second. Don’t get me wrong I would love the title but at the end of the day teams that finish top do not have any advantage next season.
In terms of our play the one thing that stands out for me week after week is the gap between the front and the back. When I was taught to play football coaches always used to say you move up and down the field as a unit. Our back line has a tendency to stay where they are, so the ball gets cleared and then the midfielders have a gaping hole to try and cover. I would like to see the back line being a bit more energetic and coming out, of course then you run the risk of being caught for pace I guess!
As a result of the back line not pressing the game up I think we then see the midfield struggle with the gap and Bendtner drops into midfield to get the ball. Of course when it then gets to the front Vine is sometimes stranded alone. You see and hear comments about our midfield players not carrying the ball but the fact is that they receive it so deep normally they would have to run so far its not possible. When was the last time we saw a central midfielder hit one from 30 yards?
Our back line does worry me, I think we should be looking for a loan player to come in just in case. I think the deadline is in a couple of weeks but nothing is coming out to suggest anything is likely. Alan Hansen talks about defences coming out in a line and being straight, look at ours it’s like a donkeys hind leg.
We are on course to win the league, a win tonight will be difficult but I truly believe that Derby are not as good as Sunderland, or us come to think of it! The other worry for me though is our players on that surface twice in one week, it must be draining to play on. Anyone who has played football at any level will know the extra effort needed playing on a pitch like that.
It’s going to be a tense night, personally I love floodlight games and the crowd (hopefully) will be a near sell-out. I see us shading it 2-1.
Enjoy the game.