Plenty of sober reflections to what was a disappointing result at Tottenham last night on the messageboards.
Quite a few people getting stuck into Roy and his lack of adventure away from home. I’m not entirely sure what Hodgson should be doing in the eyes of some of these supporters. His first priority when he came to the club was to strengthen the side and stop the flow of goals – and soul-destroying defeats – away from home. He managed it and we stayed up by the skin of teeth.
2008/09 was something of a strange season on the road. We were cautious at first away from home, only really becoming more adventurous when Roy seemed certain that we wouldn’t be heading for the drop. There was a certain verve about our football at Bolton, but for a while in that game it looked like one point rather than three. Even at Manchester City, we showed signs of fragility (conceding first and trailing at the break) before staging our usual fine finish at Eastlands. We grabbed a win at Newcastle, too, but not without frenzied pressure from the home side towards the end.
This season started with a win at Portsmouth that might have been more convincing that it was. We were very close to holding on at West Ham and that performance was particularly bright considering that were a goal and a man down at the break. There was very little caution at Manchester City but having gone two goals down that comeback was a bonus. Factor in the point we got at Wigan and that win in Basel, plus a spirited showing at Chelsea, and our showings on the road aren’t as hopeless as some would believe.
Losing at Tottenham in the manner we did was disappointing, but hardly unprecedented. This wasn’t a Boxing Day massacre like the one under Lewington that finally convinced the board to turn to Hodgson a couple of years ago. Indeed, with key performers missing and Bobby Zamora clearly not 100% fit, getting something at the Lane probably would have ranked amongst one of our best results of the season.
Hodgson’s selection last night was interesting. Kelly and Kallio weren’t particularly impressive at Accrington – and paid the ultimate penalty. Hughes and Baird were most definitely square pegs in round holes: that much was evident in their reluctance to cross the halfway line to offer any kind of attacking threat. Dikgacoi and Murphy found it despairingly difficult to pass to each other, let alone anyone else in a red shirt.
Timmy points out the Guardian chalkboard looks like a damning indictment of Damien Duff, but he eventually got so sick of waiting for receive the ball that he went looking for it. He was much more influential in the ‘hole’ after the break. I’d suggested Riise might be ready for a run in the Premier League but he looked completely ill-at-ease in his surroundings. Gareth Bale remains a real talent but he’s not the best defensive left back and Riise’s attempts to take him on were undermined by some woeful crossing.
Where do we go from here? We’ll have to pick ourselves up and rediscover our A-game for Aston Villa on Saturday. You can bet that the training sessions today would have been full of home truths.