Half time today, I was feeling very frustrated.
At full time, in spite of the tactical changes, I felt even more frustrated,
This was a game in which we totally dominated but there was very little penetration. T
he reason for that had nothing to do with the team selection, as some are already suggesting, but because we persevered with an attacking tactic which does not work and will not work no matter how often we try it
Don’t get me wrong; there will be games and moments in those games when this pays off. Because defences do make mistakes and players sometimes do edge themselves into the perfect position and get the perfect pass.
But overall, the statisticians should be studying this and returning a scathing verdict. How many times must we try the same thing before concluding that there are better ways – more likely to end in success – of putting the ball in the net?
The estimable Matthew Marr said to me earlier that it’s two steps forward and one step back. I think, in fact, that’s the perfect sentiment. Because we’re not back where we were a month ago or suddenly struggling again; I wrote earlier that the game today was partly about coming up against a scandalously negative team which made no effort to play football.
The media will not focus on that, but too many are already giving Livingston credit. But our concern is with our own club and we played wasteful horrible football. Twenty minutes into the game I was worried it would be one of those days because we were already persisting with the deep cross tactic which even SPL defences handle with ease.
And even when we changed the team in the second half, we continued doing the same damned thing. If we continue doing it, this is going to keep on costing us points. Drop enough of those points and it will almost certainly cost us the title.
So what went wrong today? What was the issue? Well, Kyogo didn’t start the match and that might be a clue. But that’s not a criticism of the decision itself. It’s a criticism of how we appeared to change the playing system to accommodate his absence in those games.
This stupid tactic of crossing balls into the box was almost entirely absent in the games we’ve recently won. Is it a coincidence that Kyogo played in those? We concentrated on playing balls to feet in those matches, instead of the cross balls … and the dividends were clear. Is that what went wrong today? Did we try to compensate? How many times can you watch a failed tactic failed before you put it where it belongs, in the bin?
That tactic, by the way, can be successful; I said to my mate at the game today though that in order to make it work you need a Peter Crouch type centre forward who is tall enough and aggressive enough to make it work. Had someone swapped Ajeti for Giakoumakis today without telling anyone, would anyone have been able to tell the difference?
I’ll tell you this; if you played Kyogo in that system you’d be as well not playing him at all. Our whole approach today was wrong. That was influenced by the team selection but it had nothing to do with the actual players we had on the pitch.
Kyogo is a real top class footballer but we cannot change our tactics just because he isn’t in the team. For the second time this season, at home, we played like Lennon’s team, trying to play a battering ram style of football without the tools for it.
And it is intensely frustrating to watch such self defeating stuff. This is not the first team who have set up to counter that system this season and they will not be the last. We need a better way to break those teams down. We were relying on our system producing mistakes and lucky breaks today and we almost got one, but we didn’t deserve it.
We will not win this league playing that type of football, it’s as simple as that. What makes it infuriating is this is not Angeball. This is Lennon football with different players, and what made his fate certain was that he had a talented enough squad to have achieved all its goals. It was those tactics which held it back.
They continue to keep this team grounded when it wants to take wing.