Friday night was like Christmas when I was 11. Given that I knew what the real deal was then, I wasn’t expecting much, but I was knocked a bit sick by the bare bones of an experience that offered little to nothing to be excited about.
I knew going into a season, off less action than the ginger on a lads on tour holiday, we’d be at best rusty, but JESUS!!
Rusty. Slow. Undercooked. Ill equipped. Shambolic. Some of the cleaner words I could use to describe our performance on the pitch, and in the boardroom!
Going into the opening game, with a starting 11 that you’d worry about in a friendly, was terrifying!! From kick off, to the moment Palace took their deserved lead, it was more a case of how long can we survive than when will we turn this around.
We couldn’t lay a glove on them! They were technically superior to us. tactically superior to us, and sharpness wise, our absolute lack of any game action was highlighted brutally by how sharp Palace were by comparison.
Some of that can obviously be put down to the shambles we’ve been thrown into by the extended run in the Europa League, and then by the international games in another pointless European adventure. But good (made up) God, so much of this has to come down to a board/man that knows it’s by a Portuguese miracle that we made the top 4 last season, to go into this season without making any effort to fix the holes in a painfully weak squad is no accident. It’s the decision of a man who knows what his bosses want, maximum returns from minimum outlay, and he’s doing all he can to deliver them that.
Our performance against Palace truly highlighted that when the starting line up is the best 11 available, and they’re all fit, we can give any team a game. When a number are either missing, or rusty as a neglected farm gate, then we’ll get picked off like working girls like are by HGV drivers.
It’s a squad that’s crying out for improvements in both quality and quantity. But neither of these areas feel like they’ll be addressed before the window closes.
We’ll show some improvement over the next 3 or 4 games as we achieve the kind of sharpness other sides have, through having an actual pre season, but without quality additions, we again face that risk of late season burnout, that was displayed painfully in the semi finals we looked dead in, and the league games against West Ham, and Southampton in particular.
It’s such an awkward feeling, because we know, from watching the second half of last season, we’ve a boss, and a team that’s delivering the best football we’ve experienced since the great man retired. But we also know that those performances alone are not what got back into the Champions League. It took the collapse of sides above us to make that possible. Our performance against Palace indicated that we’ll once again be needing a mad run of form, or minor miracle to climb back up the table this season, and if the board do nothing to provide Ole with the tools needed to do his job, this season could be the footballing equivalent of the Christmas presents I mentioned at the start of this……………… pants!!