Before we start; that park and those conditions are a rough place to try accurately judge a player. We’ve all been there at one time or another where you’re playing on a cow patch and feel like Messi – just absent the touch, pass, energy, well, basically any resemblance of talent.
With the exception of Mikey Johnston’s goal, we’ve seen this script before. Teams sit in and we struggle to break them down while being slow and ponderous in possession letting these teams filer in to an 11 man brick wall.
Like I said, the conditions were awful. Unless you’ve been in that position of playing on a ploughed field that relentlessly cuts up, you don’t know how difficult “the simple” becomes. A first touch becomes two, a 10 yard dash feels like 30 and you lose a yard. It’s tough going.
But, from the moment Mikey slammed that thunderbolt home; we finally settled. The passing still wasn’t crisp, the movement wasn’t on point, but we done enough in trying conditions. No gripes with the players or their application. Eddy took his goal well but looks like he still needs that extra yard to get back up there. Simunovic looks like the weak link and definitely will be the one to drop out next week when Julienn is fit and ready to go. Star man before he went off was easily Mikey. Took his goal with class, but we just need to work on him with that final pass and getting his head up.
But Lennon oddly, was the real culprit in making this more difficult than it had to be.
Above is roughly the average positions the players spent in tonight. Some key features were;
– McGregor operating in the space in front of the LCB/LB, which is much the same as he was asked to do under Rodgers.
– Boli wasn’t shy in getting forward and looks like he can deliver a decent ball, but also looked comfortable defensively.
– CBs are still expected to make up that extra man to beat the press.
This was a banana skin, yet we went with an untried formation and personnel. Bitton has featured lightly this preseason and never at Centre Back. Each game has also seen us line up with a back 4. Why in the name of the wee man would you choose this game to get creative? We’ve known for weeks we were headed to Sarajevo, which means we (should’ve) known for at least that long how we would line up formation wise. So why not use this in at least one of the preseason games?
We got lucky in this regard. We could have so easily been 2 down before Mikey turned the tide.
All things considered, it was a decent first competitive outing. Managerial choices aside, we done exactly what was needed. No more or less. You will have a noisy bunch on twitter claiming a poor performance, but this early on, take the win and move on. Can’t please all of the people all of the time.
8 days later and another preseason game under the belt will see us sharper and faster. It’s a decent base to launch from.
3 away goals. On to the next round.