Saturday, December 04, 2010

Awful. Really awful: City 1-1 Preston

I was really looking forward to this game. A chance for City to get back to winning ways against the bottom side in the Championship.

Oh how I should have known better.

A couple of bizarre decisions for me in the line ups. Firstly, Darcy Blake at centre back instead of Gyepes. With "big" (in every sense of the word) John Parkin up front for Preston, and two hulking central defenders they send up for set pieces why not pick our smallest centre back? Good call(not).

Secondly, Chops on the bench again. For me, we're a much better balanced team with Chops in, and the runs he makes pull other sides apart. But hey, I'm only an armchair manager.

Anyway, things went from bad to worse when Bothroyd pulled up with a hamstring injury in the 8th minute. We've got no like for like replacement, so Keogh got the nod. To be fair, I though he went on to be possibly our best player on the pitch today, and grabbed the late, late equaliser.

Preston went ahead courtesy of a big deflection on a free kick on 26 minutes that left Marshall stranded.

I'll gloss over the next 68 minutes with a broad summary. Suffice it to say that we were in the most part shockingly awful. Passing was abysmal, decision making was atrocious, confidence was non-existent. City left the field at half time to boos.

In the second period things improved - especially when Chops came on for McPhail and Whitts moved inside, but even when we got chances, we wasted them. Bellamy in particular was wasteful today with shots and passes - perhaps he was trying too hard.

For Preston's part, they looked like what they are. A shockingly bad team, probably deservedly at the bottom of the league, but we looked little better.

In the end, we were thankful for the 5 minutes of added time that ref Mr Deadman allotted following Preston's blatant time wasting at every opportunity (I know every team does it, but at least most try to hide the fact). But Preston eventually caved in in the 94th minutes when after A Whittingham cross and Olifanjana knock down Keogh popped up to head in from close range.

On balance, I think we deserved a point - no more, though it pains me to say it, but frankly with our squad we should be putting sides like Preston to the sward and burying matches like these by half time.

Maybe it was something to do with the cold and rain. The crowd was subdued the whole afternoon (perhaps because Preston only brought about 16 travelling fans (I jest, it was nearer 20), but the atmosphere never really took off.

Anyway, another test for City net week with a trip to Middlesbrough - also languishing at the bottom, and another side we should beat comfortably.

I've just seen on Twitter that Bothroyd reckons he'll be out for only one match - let's hope so. We need him in the side and fit for the Christmas programme.

As for the manager Dave Jones? I've always been a supporter. I still think he's done great things for this club, but I'm beginning to think that he's run his race at City. Sometimes I think he sets the team to play a certain way to kick sand in the face of those who criticise him, especially his tactical awareness. One to discuss over a pint perhaps?

He has his favourite players - players who the 20,000 or so City fans who watch every week clearly don't rate - Lee Naylor for one who I haven't seen have a good game since he arrived, and he won't be moved on this. He thinks we don't need a replacement for Bothroyd. At least that's what he said before the Swansea game. We clearly do. We might still be second, but only just, and I'm beginning to believe it's in spite of Jones rather than because of Jones.

Come on City, let's up the game or it'll be playoffs (at best) again.


No comments: