Who would have thought after last season, that this season we would be talking about Hazard’s inability to finish, that we would be discussing Courtois indecision at crosses as well as his reticence to catch rather than punch and that Matic’s lack of composure on the ball would be an ongoing theme?
Having to watch the tedium of a team with Mikel and Matic at its heart is bad enough but then to leave Costa out of the squad altogether on Saturday virtually guaranteed us a snoozathon. Without Costa’s theatrics and Hazard seemingly having lost his mojo, we are boring – possibly one of the dullest sides in the league. Not only are we dull, we’re not actually very good either. We may not have lost under Guus but to be honest I’m not enjoying the football any more than when we were losing week in week out under Jose.
Compare us to Leicester – you can only watch them with a huge amount of admiration, a lot of envy and total consternation as to why our group of players can’t muster even a fraction of the passion, enthusiasm and desire that Ranieri’s team obviously have in spades. They are not a better team than us, but they have a far superior attitude and their team ethic puts us to shame.
Also the obvious camaraderie between those Leicester players must be contributing to the extraordinary season they are having. Again, if you switch your attention to us, we look like a team of virtual strangers. During some of our most successful years we often heard of the players socialising together. Strong friendships were forged within the dressing room which fashioned a group who played for each other – there is little evidence of that anymore.
You no longer see a conciliatory hand on the shoulder if a pass goes astray, or an acknowledgment of a great pass. In fact you see very little communication on the pitch at all other than the rolling of eyes, frustrated gesticulations after errors and a general sullen demeanour as mistakes are made.
I do wonder if this is due in part with what happened to Mourinho. Ivanovic gave a number of interviews this week where he put the blame for this disastrous season squarely on the shoulders of the players. It’s interesting that he says that Jose did not change in any way – that he was the same, spoke to them the same, prepared for matches in the same way and indeed tried to warn them about how hard this season was going to be. He also revealed that he felt Abramovich would have rather got rid of the whole team than Mourinho.
It’s actually good to hear a first team mainstay taking some responsibility for what went on – not that it changes things but a player actually speaking out lays to rest some of the anonymous gossip and chatter by unnamed individuals who would rather pass the buck than shoulder any of the blame themselves.
The result against Stoke was a particularly disappointing one. A win would have had us up to 7th – the momentum would have been with us, we’d have been on the very coat-tails of Man United and this is a pivotal week and I would argue that the team needed the confidence boost more than a couple of individuals needing a rest. We have Champions League on Wednesday followed by FA Cup on Saturday and to face those two games coming off a draw with Stoke doesn’t really give either fans or players a real sense of belief that we can over-come either. Hopefully I will be proved wrong.
I wonder if the team do look at the extraordinary path this season has taken and think that if they had played to even a fraction of their ability they could have probably walked this league? Maybe some of the more self-aware do but I think there is still a lot of delusion in terms of why we find ourselves where we are. The thing is we need everyone to be honest and address the myriad of issues if we are going to ensure that this is just a season long abomination and that we find our way back into the elite next season. Liverpool have proved that if you do slip out of that top four it is very difficult to find your way back in and that you could find yourselves out in the wilderness for quite a few years. So time for some straight talking and honesty from everyone at the club – only then can we hope to get back on that right road.
Posted by Trizia
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