The problem with writing things on the internet is that there will forever be a permanent record of what it is I’ve said. Obviously I’m known for disliking Neil Warnock, and I don’t want to dismiss anything I’ve already said about him, because I was commenting on what I already knew, but the last few games have given a semblance of hope that he’s not as awful as I previously thought he was.
Credit where it is due: we’ve performed better in the last few games, especially away from home where our weaknesses were obvious. We’ve still not won since the Huddersfield game away, but we look closer to doing so – in fact, if it wasn’t for the inability to defend a lead for the last 15 minutes of a game (and this is where we concede the majority of our goals these days), we’d be in the play-off places. The game against Palace was described by Howson is Now-man Eamonn Dalton as a classic ‘Home vs. Away’ tie. Palace were always going to be the better team, but we matched them to the extent that should be expected, and there can be no qualms about that.
There is a slight problem: why didn’t we play like this for the first half of the season, when we sometimes seemed on the cusp of a relegation battle? Okay, he makes the excuse that Becchio hampered this sort of play, but look at the team of 2010/11, where Becchio did not hamper forward thinking, progressive play, but in fact was the focal point of it, allowing Gradel, Snodgrass and Howson to do what it was they did best and thereby provide a great season of football. Becchio himself will probably tell you that he’d have preferred crosses to the aimless punts up field that he had to craft into something.
You also have to ask why we’ve taken to conceding such late goals over and over. The reality is we’ve named an unchanged side for 5 games in a row. This is, in itself, not a problem. However, over those 5 games, substitutes have only played a combined total of 46 minutes of football, meaning that, on a basic level, each player has averaged 445 minutes out of a possible 450. That is preposterous, and explains why we’re so open to late goals – the players are simply tired and can’t handle it.
So credit where it’s due Neil, we’ve been football that is more pleasing on the eye. Two questions: why didn’t we start doing this earlier in the season, given you haven’t, so far, offered a logical explanation as to why we did not, and why are you so opposed to substitutes? We’ve been in winning positions or exploitable ones over and over and you’ve ignored the options on the bench. Decent set of results, could have achieved much better.
Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).