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11/01/2000 Rant

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 04/08/2000

tuesday 11th january


Out of both cups, 20th in the league, worse goals conceded in the division, I think we can safely say that our season is going from average to bad to worse, especially as our home form was the only thing keeping our heads above water before Christmas, and we are historically poor in January and February. Or am I being a pessimist ?. At least yesterday's results provoked some good discussion about tactics in the chatty. Most of what was said has already appeared on this list at some time, and I can't remember everything, but some of the following was agreed :

Surprisingly, we don't actually need to bring many new people in. However, our style of play has been well and truly rumbled, and we need to give ourselves a couple of new options with the current squad.

Failure to bring in a central defender this summer may have cost us the season. We all knew R. Smith would be crocked half the time. Handyside may be on his way back, but it will take time to return to his best, and if he is rushed the injury will just drag on and on like.......Burnett and R. Smith. He will not save our bacon just yet. In the meantime, Groves would seem to be a good choice to deputise in central defence and form a partnership with Smith or Lever but AB is unhappy with his other midfield options. Coldicott is a good grafter, but AB needs someone to boss the midfield, and apparently can't see anyone else in the squad, hence the loan of Hamilton. Perhaps he is waiting for Burnett to recover ? Pouton is not shaping up as a Groves replacement for the time being, that's clear. Should Groves drop back, then we could be looking for a central midfielder, or praying to Wayne's groin (which some on this list do already !).

We were all crying out for a striker. Screaming for one. An out and out goal scorer. We didn't really believe we'd get one, but it seems AB has found the real thing : a sniffer who is dangerous in the box, will have a pot, gets most of them on target, and is capable of scoring. Perhaps he won't be so involved with the build up as, say Lester for example, but who cares ? I don't, most of the BP faithful don't, but AB does, it is just not his way. So our Bradley is a sub, even though he scores goals, even if he is a big crowd favourite, and even though Lester has refused to sign a new contract and will walk out on us at the end of the season.

Surely, now we have him, let's use him. First step : give him an extended run in the team. Second step, change our game plan to include getting the ball in and around the box for Allen. Full stop. We can do this with passing and movement, doing what we do best, but trying to get a quicker final ball into the box to a Livvo (or even better - an Angell ?) who will create enough panick in the defence to allow Allen a bit of time and room to score. He doesn't need much. Buckley or Pouton fit into this role well on the left. On the right, it would seem that Donovan will have to break a leg before he is dropped. Why not try Ashcroft out there, he has the skill and the vision, and at least as much speed, to do the job.

Simple really. Maximum of two more players to add to the squad, perhaps only one. Clare is already one salary less, Handyside another for the time being, and we could get rid of Black on a transfer now. He will be released this summer anyway. It would be almost the same players, almost the same system, but different. And excitement every time the ball goes near the box. And happy fans that are singing for Allen to get his chance. Not a revolution, just fine tuning. But he won't do it, will he, the stubborn bugger ? Of course he won't. Which brings me to the last point.....

This is MY view on Buckley's departure......... if the rumours are true, and he does go, or is pushed, then we need CONTINUITY. It would be a disaster to bring in someone who plays a completely new system with the current squad (of midgets). We would not have the resources to replace the current squad with 1st division class players that could play another system effectively. We also need people appeal, and as little disruption within the team as possible in our position at this time of year. So the obvious solution, for me, would be Cockers until the end of the season.

Erm, did I forget anything ?

Oh yes, one last thing. Anyone (you know who you are) who thinks I am a poor deluded soul who should have better things to do than spout opinions without attending matches, then please accept my apologies and thank you for reading this far. But these are views at least in part shared with people who do go to matches, and even if they weren't, "merde" !

Allez les Mariners

Stu Morton (French-based fan)

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