Well it is only the 21st of July and already it seems as though this is going to be a season to forget. I understand that some people who are eternal optimists will argue that we are still trying to put a new team together but the reality is we are seeing the same problems and the same issues that held us back last season under Csaba Laszlo. I cannot see things improving under the manager and I do actually consider myself an optimistic supporter who tries to see the good in things. When Mike Martin came in as Chairman he was very vocal in his support of Laszlo but we are now at a stage that the longer he leaves it, the more risky all of this becomes. We NEED promotion this year and it isn’t something we can gamble with.
For those brave souls who attended the game today (and there weren’t many) it was yet another atypical United performance. Slow and laboured possession mixed in with wasted chances and, unsurprisingly, a mental collapse once things started to get tough. A stupid error led to a late penalty for the second week in a row and it all seemed very familiar as we lost another penalty shoot-out, officially confirming our exit from the Betfred Cup. Losing today has denied the club a possible additional revenue stream and it also delivers another hammer blow to the confidence of fans and of players. Either Laszlo has used this as part of pre-season (which is wrong), we are just not very good (which is worrying) or both (which is frightening).
We actually did okay in the first-half today. Unfortunately ‘okay’ was as good as it got. It was never good, it was never exciting, it was just ‘a bit better’. A couple of good moments in the early part of the second half should have allowed us to put the game out of sight but yet again we faltered when it mattered. We have only scored two goals in the last three games with only one of those coming from an attacker. We are dreadfully weak and wasteful going forward.
Laszlo, who has sent out mixed messages with regards to these games, continues to bring everyone back at corners, continues to insist on predictable build-up play and he still seems to be unable to play with more than a solitary striker for any length of time with so many of his players dropping deep to get the ball. Even if we are using the excuse of it being a new team the actual football on show is just not good enough. The players are not passing with any intent, they are not driving forward or trying to impress, it is the same formulaic, generic football we have seen under Csaba and I doubt that it will change. It isn’t good enough.
Player Ratings from today –
34 – Matej Rakovan – Had nothing to do in the first-half, made a couple of important stops in the second 45. Didn’t save any of the penalties in the shoot-out. – 6
2 – Stewart Murdoch – Looks a bit more comfortable at right-back, even though he should not be playing there anyway. Nearly gave away a penalty right at the death – 4
24 – William Edjenguele – A surprise return for someone I assumed was leaving. Still looks as uncomfortable as always – 4
4 – Frederic Frans – Looks comfortable for most of the time but is very guilty of lapses in concentration. Gave away the penalty after a stupid challenge late on. – 4
17 – Jamie Robson – Still not good enough. Possibly played a little bit better than in the game last week but still very weak on the ball and positionally poor – 3
5 – Adam Barton – Very comfortable on the ball and has a great range of passing. He had a very strong 60 minutes and then drifted out of the game badly – 6
12 – Sam Stanton – In the first half he was good, cutting in from the wing and making the most of the ball. Like everyone else he disappeared in the second half – 6
20 – Christopher Rabitsch – Really, really poor. Picked up an early booking so spent the rest of the half going into challenges half heartedly. Taken off at half-time – 3
33 – Fraser Aird – Drifted in and out of the game. He was very guilty of not being positive enough in possession – 5
10 – Nicky Clark – Isolated for large spells and had very little to work with – 5
19 – James Keatings – Another surprise addition. He tried to get involved and was unlucly not to score in the first-half. Didn’t get any luck with a couple of free-kicks and he struggled with fitness towards the end – 5
Subs – 32 – Declan Glass – Came on at half-time and again showed good energy and willingness to take men on (5), 7 – Paul McMullan – Had very little time on the ball when he came on. Missed the deciding penalty in the shootout (3), 16 – Matty Smith – Had no impact on the game (2).