Brainless Tigers

Last updated : 31 August 2008 By Andy Beill
There was no lack of work rate today. The players didn't mis-kick the ball or mis-place passes. They played the ball exactly as they wanted to, most of the time. But, frustratingly, they didn't make the right decisions in what to do with the ball.

This was evident from start to finish. At the beginning of the match, Wayne Brown was making diving headers to clear the ball. All this achieved was clearing it 20 yards forward, usually to a Wigan player. A much better decision would have been to control the ball and then use a foot to do something with it. I can think of a few other times when our defenders headed the ball away first time when the ball was higher in the air, when with a bit of awareness or communication they could have done better.

The short corner that led to the second goal was a succession of bad decisions. I've never been a fan of the short corner anyway - I can't really think of any times it has been used to any success. But worst of all is to do it when there are two defenders waiting to close it down. The ball back to the taker, Dawson, wasn't the best one as it required him to take a touch to get it onto his left foot. I commented on Dawson's one-footedness earlier in the week on the message board and today it led to a goal against us. I've got a terrible feeling it was Sam Ricketts who played the short corner with Dawson, and had he not done this he would have been in a better defensive position when the corner was cleared. The other bad decision in this scenario was by Phil Brown, choosing to leave Wayne Brown as the man furthest back. But what really annoyed me about the whole thing was that when we got another corner a couple of minutes later we did exactly the same thing. We tried another short corner, which again failed, and we also left Wayne Brown back on his own. It was just plain stupidity.

I don't think Phil Brown made many errors. He put out the best team he could. I would have liked to have seen Dean Windass starting as I thought he would give us some intelligence on the pitch (and how desperately it turned out we needed that). When he came on, he did a couple of clever things. First off, he drew Titus Bramble into making a foul just outside their area. If only some of our other players had thought of doing the same thing against a defender we all know is error-prone. Deano also played a short corner when it was appropriate, with no defenders to close it down, gifting Michael Turner a chance he did terribly with. However, he looked well off the pace and Folan was a better option to start the game purely due to fitness.

I think it front of goal were the main times we did kick the ball badly. Fagan had a reasonable chance in the first half, and Garcia and Mendy were also clear through either side of Turner's header over the bar but finished poorly.

In general though it was what we decided to do with the ball that proved our downfall. Most of the time, the ball was being played back to Wayne Brown, and then usually back again to Boaz Myhill. While Brown does have some strengths, ball control and passing are not among them. We also passed in tight situations, to defenders with little space who were unable to do much with it. Sometimes this came from taking free kicks in our own half quickly. A bit more composure and thought were really needed.

Another thing that frustrated me was when Garcia and Dawson were substituted. Phil Brown was making those changes to try and get something from the game, even if only consolation goals. Both players strolled off, not even breaking into a jog. I'd like to see our substituted players save us a few seconds by being quicker in making their exits and adding a bit of urgency with their last action.

Credit should be given to the Wigan side. While we had a lack of intelligence, Wigan were quite the opposite. They knew how to play to their strengths and how to play against our weaknesses, closing down our defenders.

We've got two weeks until our next match. Hopefully in that time the coaching staff can show our players what they were doing wrong today and in future they will be smarter in what they do on the pitch.

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