Oh what a carry on! What a laughable set of circumstances that would make our journey to the end of the season fraught with danger and pessimism. We are on a one way street to defensive football, a one dimensional success but will fail to entertain the fans or any smirking onlookers either.
I can foresee a fanbase getting increasingly frustrated with the type of football they will witness. There will be social media lynch mobs verbalising malcontent and growing questions asked of Moyes. Indeed he will be the fall guy for this shambles…but make no mistake about it…he will be blameless for the most part.
As a rule, I am a fan of solid defensive play and quality counter attacking forays as it makes us hard to beat but also we have the opportunity to pinch a goal and potentially even get a result. Certainly against the better teams it is right and proper to find a tactical edge to counteract the opponents strengths. However, being tactical doesn’t always mean it’s entertaining to watch and will usually attract derision from fans both home and away, media hacks and football pundits.
The 2003 Champions League final between Juventus and AC Milan was largely seen as the most monotonous game of football ever to grace a final. However, the Italians saw it as a triumph of defensive excellence. Each team ably resistant to the opponents ample advances…it was a tactical masterpiece demonstrated by both protagonists. I recall thinking how brilliant both teams were, how amazing that each team were able to see beyond the game and the expectation of the fans but focus on the battle they were engaged to fight. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t entertaining but it was nonetheless enthralling for any tactician.
Everybody, it seems, loves to see attacking football. Of course they do…after all football is supposed to be entertainment. But should we sacrifice ourselves in the name of the open style when it’s likely to leave us defenceless against enemy incursions…I think not!
I have admired Moyes’s ability to set up a faltering team to stand up against the top six teams. To load up the defence, be tactically cautious but attempt to counter attack when able. If it wasn’t for poor forward play, we may have seen greater reward in that arena.
We know our main weakness is in midfield and our ability to transform from a defensive strategy into an offensive one in the blink of an eye. We have struggled with creativity and pace to make things happen, to create opportunities, to expose the opponents flanks to deliver splitting crosses that would make defenders wobble and goalkeepers fumble.
For the most part, Moyes has set up the team to exploit its strengths…being the improving defensive qualities. Although he has aspired for better attacking play, he has lacked fit, in form and willing players to deliver that for him.
We are now facing a situation whereby the only creativity we have, has been lost for at least a month. Injuries to Lanzini and Arnautovic expose the frailty of our squad and illustrate a tissue like depth that is just full of snot.
Of course, in the fantastical & ideal world where most fans yearn to live, we would expect Moyes to magically find an ingredient to heal our wounds and warm our bellies with some delicious cherry pie. But that is for fairytales where princesses kiss the frogs and donkeys transform into stallions.
The truth of the matter is that Moyes was not fully supported and never completely trusted to be our main man at the top. If that had been so then he would have been spared the embarrassment of a short term contract. Like his predecessor who was left out in the cold by the wanting warmth of support, Moyes has been made to play with second hand toys when all the neighbour’s kids are getting treated with brand new ones.
This transfer window was the opportunity to lay down a statement of intent, to make good on promises made to the fans and to support a manager who’s done remarkably well considering the number of broken or blunt crayons he’s had to choose from. There should’ve have been a plan in place in December to strike early with intent…but all we got was a board that was incommunicado and a manager who seemed more likely to jump onto any scraps that were made available at the final curtain.
We have operated like adolescent morons being forced to tidy our rooms when all we’d rather do is pick our noses and feast upon its bounty. This has been a shocking display, bereft of ideas, ambitiously impotent and devoid of urgency.
Whilst we should scrutinise players and coaches for the team’s performances and results, we must acknowledge the lack of support to reinforce the squad and to fund a manager who might just be our best option to regain any kind of honour.
We all want attractive football, adventurous and purposeful but still resilient. We want to “Have a Go!” at every team that squares up against us. We want to be able to shout, “SHOOT!” with confidence before anyone hears the kick off whistle. I want this, you want this and I’m confident that Moyes wants this too, but he has a mandate to keep us in the league only so any wishful thinking of expansive & entertaining football can be forgotten…at least for this season.
Moyes will default back to his strengths regardless of whether he thought the goal of attacking play was once within his grasp only to be cruelly thwarted at the sound of the last transfer bell. He will continue with his diligence and application, he will strive to make our defensive line an impenetrable castle wall, he will continue to search for answers to our midfield woes and flanking hoes but we can expect little more than dull defensive displays and naive attacking attempts to salivate the masses unless any of the late desperate transfer targets miraculously turn on the style.
There is little to look forward to other than a style that will ensure mid table anonymity but if we can find faith in this catenaccio comedy then maybe the last laugh will be ours. All we require is faith in our manager…even though that faith for the board has ultimately left the building for good.