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Season 2011-12
The Mail Bag

The sloppy defending is costing as well.

 20 Comments: First  |  Last

The lack of strikers is blamed, but 7 years ago when we stood second to Chelsea after 17 games we had scored... 21 goals, compared to 18 from 17 games this year. Just three goals more.

Yet our record was:
P17 W11 D3 L3 F21 A14 Pts 36.

I was having a clear-out and I saw a printed league table from 11 December 2004 and it brought to mind how many sloppy goals we have let in this year through third-rate defending. It hasn?t been one of those seasons when people have scored lots of great goals against us ? okay... Van Persie, but not like some seasons.

If we had prevented five or six of these soft goals then we?d have been near the 30-point mark and quite happy with our season.

Just thought I?d mention it because the press and most fans seem to be only talking about our striker problem.

Peter Hall, Wirral     Posted 28/12/2011 at 15:21:57

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Anto Byrne
1   Posted 28/12/2011 at 16:38:11

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Football being played then was still shite and dull and defensive and 1-0 wins were the order of the day. Lee Carlsley was the main man, I dare say, with Weir and Stubbs and of course Hibbert and perhaps Unsworth.

What has Moyes built since then? A team that can't compete with the top 6 teams, can't score goals, and is about as interesting as watching paint dry, playing crab football. Donovan ain't the answer for this clueless ginger twat who persists with lightweights and injury-prone forwards.

It's a bloody shame things have come to this with the players we do have compared to those of 7 years ago. Moyes is lost, out of his depth, and devoid of any ideas other than offering the likes of Donovan and Henry a game. FFS...
Colin Ryan
2   Posted 28/12/2011 at 19:06:16

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Looking at the table, I was shocked to see we have the 5th best defence in the league so we haven't been shocking at the back at all.

And I was even more shocked to see our lovely neighbours with £55m worth of new strikers have only scored 3 more goals than us and we have a game less played. If only Cahill had repeated last seasons early form with about 10 goals by now we would be easily in the top 6.
Peter Hall
3   Posted 28/12/2011 at 19:14:12

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Your stats are true - but - if you've watched all season - don't you agree that many of the goals conceded have been awful? Potentially we've got one of the best defences in the prem but they have let in some awful goals.

And I don't think Cahill's managed 10 chances, never mind 10 goals.

Let's see what others think . . .
Colin Ryan
4   Posted 28/12/2011 at 19:27:35

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I have watched all season and I do agree we have given away soft goals but I was just throwing out the figures that show we still have one of the top defences in the league. The margins are thin at this level and, bar the RVP goal and the Taylor one up at Newcastle which were unstoppable, we could have defended better for a lot of them.

Hopefully the defence can remain as tight and Donavon and another striker (hopefully) can add an extra 10 goals or so in the second half of the season. Saying that, when we often start with 6 defenders on the pitch its no shock to see we have the 5th meanest defence in the league.
Guy Rogers
5   Posted 28/12/2011 at 20:02:51

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What about just trying to pass the ball properly and entertaining the fans?
Jay Harris
6   Posted 28/12/2011 at 19:58:34

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The way we play with 10 men behind the ball we should hardly be conceding any goals.

The reason we do is mainly down to inviting pressure and giving the ball away too often from hoofing or bad passing.

The best form of defence is when the players are well out of their own area marking further up the field
Roman Sidey
7   Posted 28/12/2011 at 21:16:43

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Colin, that is why stats can be misleading. We have kept, what, 2 clean sheets this season? If I were a defender for a team that had only kept 2 clean sheets, I'd be embarrassed.

The RVP and Taylor goals were not unstoppable, as both goals were the result of poor defending letting those players in those positions. Just like Sunderland's goal the other day. Some might say it was unlucky that it caught Distin and deflected over Howard. I for one saw Distin not tackle the provider in the previous pass when he should have, then make a sliding block when he shouldn't have. This is a constant error our defenders are making, and I guess Howards could hold some blame for not communicating with his defence a bit better, but how many goals have we conceded because a somewhat easy ball in hasn't been left for the 'keeper to clean up?
Chris Smith
8   Posted 28/12/2011 at 22:11:11

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We have definitely conceded some poor goals this season. That said, scoring goals is the problem. This is obvious to a blind man on a galloping horse.
James Martin
9   Posted 28/12/2011 at 22:08:25

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The main difference between the two seasons is the midfield. The 04/05 class had the attcking thrust of Cahill and Gravesen behind Marcus Bent giving them an out ball. Kilbane and Osman were defensively sound on the wings. We absorbed attacks and had enough offensive threat to get goals. The midfiled now is completely different where is the hard as nails central trio of 04/05 that balanced defensive and attacking power as well as physical menace? Now we have on a good day Fellaini and Rodwell who ar eboth good on the ball but offer nothing in either direction or on a bad day Heitinga and Neville who offer nothing.

They don't make chances so therefore we can never take the pressure off ourselves. We should have the best defensive stats in the league because we never attack. The midfield and strikers need to push out more rather than being so deep then the defenders would actually benefit from the pressure being relieved and attacks being broken up further up the field rather than the team retreating back as an 11 man unti and then only perhaps putting a tackle in on the edge of the box. more often than not the cross or shot still comes in even with all 11 men back.

The defenders have made mistakes but they aren't that bad, they're having to be perfect every game though because in my opinion our pathetic midfield offers nothing. It can't keep hold of the ball, it never shows for it, it doesn't put a tackle in on anyone, and never relieves the pressure on the backline. No wonder Jagielka just boots it as far as he can.
Denis Richardson
10   Posted 28/12/2011 at 22:05:45

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If Blackburn had the Yak for penalties in August and Zamora could hit an open goal from 6 yards out, we would have conceded 3 more goals....Arsenal also had other chances they missed before finally scoring etc...

Lies, lies and damn statistics......

We have a good US international keeper, an English international LB, an English international CB, a Dutch international CB and an average RB. This should be one of the best defences in the league so 2 clean sheets in 18 games is not exacly something to write home about. Add to that we regularly play an extra defender or two in midfield.

However, as stated above, our tactics seem to include trying to give the ball away as quickly as possible, which just results in it coming straight back and over working the defenders.

Dick Fearon
11   Posted 28/12/2011 at 22:06:00

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A comparison between 7 years ago and today clearly shows that most clubs have moved on while we have stood still.
Harking back to Thierry Henry, Van Nistleroy etc the relative quality of strikers has little changed over years.
Current tables clearly show that most clubs now place more emphasis on scoring .
Moyes manic concentration on defence has not changed. He has always aimed for the decisive goal in a low scoring game. Unfortunately that decisive goal is too often scored against us.

Saha may be over the hill but even in his pomp he could not do much on his own. A la Beattie, AJ and Yak.

Cahill provided some help in the goal scoring department and it was his extraordinary goal sense that covered Moyes arse for years.

Timmy's magic touch having deserted him for the time being has exposed Moyes tactical naivette for the garbage it has always been.
In conclusion, I do not think we are better or worse than 7 years ago it is just that most others have got better.

Mick Davies
12   Posted 28/12/2011 at 22:58:49

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Denis Richardson, we don't have an average right back: we have an awful joke of a right back. Please tell me what other PL club would play him? Just watch him and his positional play. his spatial awareness is akin to a crackhead looking for a sub. He has only ever had the slide tackle in his repertoire and if this fails, he's left lying on the deck red faced and relying on Jags, Seamus or someone else to cover. He runs up the line without a clue as to what he's going to do and when play changes he is too slow to get anywhere near a counter attacking left winger. His pathetic air shots, kung-fu kicks and lack of a challenge in the air are an embarrassment, and as the only remaining Walter Smith player, maybe Moyes keeps him so he has someone to blame for his own inadequacies.
Stephen Kenny
13   Posted 29/12/2011 at 00:28:46

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Spot on. A lot of people laughed when we sold Lescott for £24m, not many will be laughing now. He hasn't looked as good for Man City but he was a giant for us.

The Spain/England game was a harsh reminder of how good we used to be at the back. The fact we are now conceding so regularly only magnifies our inadequacies going forwards too.

The drop in standards has been blamed on all kinds of things from change of style to Carsley leaving. IMO theres a few significant ones.

The first is our lack of pace through the sidebut especially up top. While players like Johnson and Bent were never truly prolific for us they carried a threat if teams pushed up too high. this meant we weren't as easy to attack.

The balance of our midfield has also changed. We were truly at our best defensively when Carsley was playing 10-15 yards in front of our back four. When he went it was either Neville, Arteta or both filling this space. Neither can do the job as good as Carsley.

Fellaini hasn't got the same discipline nor does he play the same game as Lee. IMO this is to his detriment as he's not great going forward and should look to build his name as a truly defensive midfielder.

IMO the last and most significant is the breaking up of the Jag/Lescott partnership and Jag's injury. There's no doubt Jagielka was a brilliant player for us before his injury. I don't think he's hit the heights since. He is making a lot of individual errors he never made in the past.

His biggest skill as a defender was his man marking (putting a rampant Torres in his arse pocket), these days average players are giving him a hard time. He's still a good player and despite Distin also being decent they don't fit together.

I'd like to see Distin and Heitinga given a run together to see if that works otherwise I'd be looking to restructure.

While most see our problems up top as the big one to solve I think with the way Moyes sets us out we really need to be conceding 30 or less a season to finish high up the league for the simple reason we will never be big scorers.
Danny Broderick
14   Posted 29/12/2011 at 05:28:26

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At the moment,the defenders are going into every game under pressure, because they know we are unlikely to score more than once. If we had a striker or 2 who knew where the goal is, plus maybe a winger to provide for them, I'm sure our defending would improve as results improve.

Our defence is largely the same defence that has done well for us the last few years.
Vic Flange
15   Posted 29/12/2011 at 08:52:31

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Noticed how many times shots go in off one of our defender's making a desperate lunge? And I thought it was a Yobo thing.
Vic Flange
16   Posted 29/12/2011 at 09:02:29

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Dick, spot on mate. Cahill provided some help in the goal scoring department and it was his extraordinary goal sense that covered Moyes's arse for years.
Phil McKeown
17   Posted 29/12/2011 at 09:07:43

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Interesting how stats can lie: I don't think the team from Season 2004-05 were much different than today's team apart from the fact we were more solid. Martyn was more commanding than the overrated Howard, every keeper in the Premier League is a good shot stopper.

Hibbert is still limited Hibbert, Stubbs and Weir, although not blessed with as many physical attributes as Jags and Distin were better positionally as they couldn't rely on pace throughout there careers, Distin switches off and costs too many goals, just like Yobo. Baines is obviously better than Pistone.

Fellaini at times has demonstrated enough discipline to perform the Carsley role magnificently, City away last season, for example. However, the lack of quality in an attacking sense means he cannot stick to just this role. I can't believe after all these years Ossie and Hibbert are still playing together on the right! After the FA Cup Final, this should have never happened again. Coleman is an impact player off the bench, this area has never been resolved. The midfield balance has never been right since that season. We have too many players suited to playing in behind the striker.

Cahill needs to take a back seat and because of his workrate drops into midfield, Saha drops too deep and doesn't have the workrate or hunger/legs to get in the box, we end up playing 4-6-0, we have no pacey striker prepared to work the channels, it's not rocket science but Moyes is making it look like it.
Phil McKeown
18   Posted 29/12/2011 at 09:07:43

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Interesting how stats can lie , I don't think season 2004-05 were much different than todays team apart from the fact we were more solid . Martyn was more commanding than the overrated Howard , every keeper in the pl is a good shot stopper.

Hibbert is still limited hibbert , stubbs and weir although not blessed with as many physical attributes as jags and distin were better positionally as they couldn't rely on pace throughout there careers , distin switches off and costs too many goals , just like yobo. Baines is obviously better than pistone.

Fellaini at times has demonstrated enough discipline to perform the carsley role magnificently , city away last season for example . However the lack of quality in an attacking sense means he cannot stick to just this role. I can't believe after all these years ossie and hibbert are still playing together on the right ! After the fa cup final this should have never happened again . Coleman is an impact player off the bench , this area has never been resolved. The midfield balance has never been right since that season . We have too many players suited to playing in behind the striker.

Cahill needs to take a back seat and because of his workrate drops into midfield , Saha drops too deep and doesn't have the workrate or hunger/legs to get in the box , we end up playing 4-6-0 , we have no pacey striker prepared to work the channels , its not rocket science but moyes is making it look like it
Ian Kearney
19   Posted 29/12/2011 at 11:15:38

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We were keeping clean sheets after Carsley left despite what people think, the year we got to the cup final for example.

Also Jags has only himself to blame for his aimless long balls, as his stats in comparison to Jonny after the Swansea game proved.
James Stewart
20   Posted 29/12/2011 at 12:29:02

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Goals win games ultimately and this is a concept Moyes does not understand. You can't go into every game with a plan of trying to keep a shut out and maybe nick one at the other end.

Our defence is a cause for concern though I agree. Personally I don't rate any of our Cb's highly. Distin is the best of the bunch but you hardly want to build your defence around a guy his age. Jags is hopeless with the ball and should have been sold when arsenal bid. Heitinga is the opposite. decent on the ball but a liability without it.

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