Season 2011-12
The Mail Bag

Why have we stopped doing the simple things well?

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Something I've noticed over the last couple of years (and a lot this year) is the lack of understanding and organisation at throw-ins and set pieces.

When Moyes was building this team, it was built on the foundations of being well organised and disciplined, everyone appeared to understand their roles in the side and what each other was meant to be doing in certain situations in the game.

At the minute, whenever we get a throw-in, people are looking at the floor and wandering around instead of snapping into action and knowing exactly who should be doing what... at times it's verging on embarrassing! The throw-in will be thrown to someone's head with no-one in behind, or no-one offering to take the ball, etc, etc.

When we are attacking down a flank, instead of the whole team moving across one position to cover, there is a void getting left for teams to counter-attack. I watch MotD and I see even shite teams like Wolves pulling off well-worked free-kicks and corners, I can't remember the last time I've seen us utilise a training ground move. It just seems to me we've stopped doing the basic/simple things that can be coached and practised well ? things that in my opinion make a big difference.
John J Malone, Kirkby     Posted 22/11/2011 at 23:13:39

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Jimmy Sřrheim
1   Posted 23/11/2011 at 06:33:26

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That is one way to put it, another is we are poor all over no matter what kind of dead-ball situation we get.

Our midfield play lacks flow, pace rythm and attacking intent. The most important part is the intent part. Not one player shows the kind of intent we need.

Confidence is a part of it, but I belive there is a lack of passion and happieness with the forward play. They seem like they don't know how to pass or move in the right positions. Watching the Wolves game both Cahill and Saha were rubbish in their positions. When Drenthe finally got a great cross, nobody was even close to it, and that was at home.

How will we look against Bolton away, even worse I bet, if Moyes persists with Saha and Cahill we will not be close to scoring. Saha wanders away down the flanks and Cahill just runs too slow and can't anticipate where the ball will come.

One of the reasons the best game this season was Wigan at home was because of Drenthe and Vellios being in the right place at he right time. Vellios has better pace than Saha and puts himself in scoring positions all the time. He is a hungry young goascorer that needs game time.
Stephen Kenny
2   Posted 23/11/2011 at 08:08:20

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John,

I agree 100%. I think things like this boil down to organization and training ground work. The better teams at every level of football understand that and all know where to be and when in each dead ball situation, defensively and going forward.

The other thing I think you need to carry this out effectively is a good team ethic. Moyes and the players are constantly banging on about this but a lot of big characters and important players have left in the past few years and maybe this is suffering. Judging by Moyes kite most games he's not up for it anymore!
Stephen Kenny
3   Posted 23/11/2011 at 08:14:26

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***Maybe that attitude has been noticed and copied by the players?
Howard Don
4   Posted 23/11/2011 at 08:30:22

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My other worry is we don't close teams down like we used to. We used to hunt in packs (except for Carsley who was a one-man pack), never allowing teams time on the ball or many options. On Saturday, Wolves played that game and at times we had few answers.

The reverse of this when we have the ball there's not enough movement or show for the man on the ball. Jags' default mode is to hoof it, but in his defence very often, and especially on Saturday, he's given little option.
Brian Harrison
5   Posted 23/11/2011 at 08:38:46

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I think a lot is down to lack of confidence, I mean how many players would you have from the present Newcastle side? Probably one or two at most yet look at their league position. They have started well despite most people making them favourites to go down.

Reminds me of the time we lost Rooney and many predicted us to struggle but the players stuck together and against all odds finished 4th. So don't underestimate what a massive difference that confidence makes, and it is such an elusive thing that it can disappear in the blink of an eye.
Dick Fearon
6   Posted 23/11/2011 at 09:46:22

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John J, for years on these pages I have been saying exactly the same things about our throw-ins and dead-ball kicks. Responses usually were on the lines of how enormously difficult it was in the modern game to deliver inch-perfect balls.

The other night I watched Arsenal vs West Brom and there was Arteta putting in a succession of corners and other dead-ball kicks that would have been ideal fodder for Cahill. We can only wonder why he has suddenly regained that skill... When at Everton he could not beat the first defender and Moyes et al were incapable of remedying it.

Similarly with our throw-ins that all too often end up being to the advantage of opponents. It seems that our 'throwers' are obliged to wait until opponents have all our players are tightly marked. Over the past 10 years there has been countless examples of that yet once again Moyes seems incapable of correcting it.
Ciarán McGlone
7   Posted 23/11/2011 at 10:03:14

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We've never done the simple things well under Moyes... I would suggest that the premise of the article is flawed.
Denis Richardson
8   Posted 23/11/2011 at 10:09:43

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Forgot to add the most annoying of all things ? pulling every single player back for all oppo corners!!

I try to look at other teams and what they do in the same situation and we seem to be the only team that doesn't leave at least one person upfield when defending a corner.

Surprise surprise, we clear the ball and it comes straight back. Also means the opposition can put an extra man in our box as they don't have to worry about any kind of counter-attack, so this ends up being counter-productive anyway!

Cannot remember which football sage said it but the most important person on the pitch is the one without the ball... ie, movement off the ball is key ? you shouldn't blame the players for passing sideways and backwards if there is no movement in front of them. Drenthe is the only midfielder who regularly looks to get the ball at the moment.
Daniel A Johnson
9   Posted 23/11/2011 at 12:13:46

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The problem is Moyes has been there 10 years and the players are getting bored of the training, management and tactics.

If you did the same things for 10 years, soon you would lose interest too.
Tony J Williams
10   Posted 23/11/2011 at 12:49:20

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"Fucken move for him will yer!" - The most oft used phrase/shout from me at the match.

Whilst I agree with the premise of the thread, it is not the greatest timing seeing that we scored from a set piece on Saturday.

Cahill has lost his mojo, it was he who was the most threatening from set pieces but he has lost that kangaroo bounce. Let's hope he can find it again.
Dave Roberts
11   Posted 23/11/2011 at 12:33:13

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Not leaving anybody up for opposition corners is the fault that I get most annoyed about. You just know that even if a corner is cleared away, it will be picked up by one of their players and it will be straight back into our area. Corners often lead to a minute or two of pressure on our defence with successive clearances put straight back in.

It's particularly annoying because it's so bloody obvious. If we left a man up it would keep an opponent occupied and all he would have to do is challenge for the clearance, hold things up and allow the team to organize. I remember Moyes commenting on this a couple of years ago and his view was that you 'defend corners'. Of course you do but not at the expense of conceding the whole pitch and at the cost of the ball coming right back in. We concede quite a lot of goals from those brief spells of pressure.

I don't know Moyes personally (obviously!) but I do sense a certain stubborness. He has his ideas and he will not be budged from them. I think this also explains his poor use of substitutes. He chooses his team and by hook or by crook he will persist with it until it works, until it doesn't and he has to change it, usually in a panic and most often too late.

The best time for tactical substitutions is just after half-time. The opposition see you walking out with the same team and don't make their own changes to account. Then you change 10 minutes in giving them no immediate chance to respond. Moyes doesn't do tactical substitutions, he does last ditch suck it and see ones.

Wolves were very poor on Saturday but nevertheless their pass completion rate according to the press who count things like that (I don't, I just 'sense' it!) their pass completion rate was much higher than ours. It didn't do them much good because they are shite but they moved around in little groups, making 5-yard passes that allowed them to keep the ball which meant we didn't have the ball! There's more to the game than possession but keeping the ball, if nothing else, keeps it away from the opposition. We just don't do that.

I've posted about throw-ins before so I won't go into that again, but they usually result in the opposition getting possession. Nuff said.

As for movement up front. I've given up on that except that when Vellios came on on Saturday he kept running along their back line and popping up in different places which unsettled Wolves. It was all very predictable before then and easy for their back line.

If I was Moyes I would drop Cahill on Saturday at Bolton and play Vellios with Saha. I know there is a lot to criticize about Saha and he gets it but the service he gets is appalling at times. With somebody beside or just behind him, and even interchangeing with Vellios, I think Saha would get a few goals.

But I'm not Moyes and he won't drop Cahill. I think he's too stubborn to do that!
John Malone
12   Posted 23/11/2011 at 14:37:01

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I agree, confidence has a lot to do with players willing to move and ask for the ball, but I don't think that should affect our ability to know who does what, when carrying out different set plays. Even the monkeys at the safari park are onto it, one jumps on the bonnet distracting the driver while the others run round the side and get the scran, the zoo keeper said there's a name for it! Teamwork or something!!!
Tom Bowers
13   Posted 23/11/2011 at 16:09:06

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The confidence is there but the ability and strategy isn't. You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. We have a number of long standing deficiences at the club, including Moyes. Quite a number of players are past their best and the new talent we have is not being utilized.

Moyes has to go I have no doubt as I believe even with funding he does not have what it takes to turn this club around. Come January it will be the usual posturing and excuse-making.

We should be looking now to unload some deadbeats we have had for years whilst they can still be of use to some team in the Championship... but of course it won't happen as long as Moyes is here.
Dick Fearon
14   Posted 24/11/2011 at 07:50:18

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If you were earning a wage 50 times more than the average bloke, would you use every spare minute honing your skills or would you frequent tattoo parlours? A peek at the multi coloured skin graffiti on many players is an indication of how they spend their spare minutes... Is it any wonder why we are not happy with their skill level.
Tom Bowers
15   Posted 25/11/2011 at 22:54:22

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Dick, It's the way of many to get body art these days and even more so the people in the public eye especially football players who are seen by millions.

Trouble is for many of them, from a distance at the ground and on the box these tattoos just look like dirty marks even though up close some of them are quite colorful and intricate. I think Beckham was one of the first with one on his neck. Cahill and Bellamy were other notables and now almost all are into it.

When there is too much it simply isn't attractive. I am sure if the laws of the game allowed it, body piercing/jewelry would be rife also. It has not gone unnoticed that a few players are also wearing eye liner, especially for the televised games, which are after all entertainment. Who knows what the next trend will be-knee length shorts and beards for all?

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