Vital View: Crewe v Blackpool
Ian Holloway made seven changes to his side for the game against Crewe on Tuesday night, and it showed. Then again, Crewe themselves made five changes.
Perhaps it was because I watched the game from the home end, but I felt that Crewe were the better team and incredibly unlucky to lose.
They had the better of the chances throughout the game and perhaps on another night, with better finishing combined with more confidence, they would have claimed the Seasiders scalp.
As it was, Pool snuck through with two good goals, but bar that, created very little.
I appreciate that we did not play our strongest side, but the performance still brought to light the concern that the players perhaps don't yet understand Holloway's new system, or that sadly they're just not cut out for it. A performance like that in the Championship would see us on the end of a tonking.
Whilst it was good to see us trying to pass the ball out from the back, I lost count of the many flick ons etc that went astray as players failed to read each other. All too often too many players were stood within too close a proximity to each other. There was the occaisional glimmer of the new system working, but that's all it was: a glimmer, far from the finished article. I understand that it was the same v QPR last Saturday... such a shame after the promise of the Everton game.
Whether Holloway sticks to his guns if his players continue to fail to gel remains to be seen... but we can only hope that he has a Plan B for games where we cannot afford to be cute (and on Tuesday night we were trying to be too cute, walking the ball into the net a la Arsenal).
Moving onto individual performances, although Adam Nowland scored, I'd made my mind up within 15 minutes that he wasn't good enough. The same goes for Mark Hudson. They failed to impose themselves on the game, and as such, Crewe often over-ran our midfield, and for the few nice touches they showed, they gave the ball away willy nilly.
Onto the rest of the team, and my heart was in my mouth everytime the ball went near our goal courtesy of Gilks. I hate to say it, but I think he's poor... really poor. The amount of shots that fizzed just wide that he didn't even dive for was incredible. Now, he's either got a brilliant eye for what's going wide and what isn't, or as I suspect from what I've seen of him before, he's just not very good. Mark Halstead has every chance of establishing himself as Rab's understudy before the season is out now, in my opinion.
Moving onto the defence, and Joe Martin started poorly but grew in confidence as the game went on and we began to see that Joe Martin that we know and love. The lad seems low on confidence unsurprisingly after his treatment last season, but he's a very good young player and will prove to be a great asset to us if he gets another run in the side like he did last season. Evatt was my Man of the Match on a night it was difficult to pick one after he swept up everything at the back alongside a solid Rob Edwards. Alex Baptiste was impressive, as always.
Into midfield, and Billy Clarke showed glimpses of his raw talent, as did Ishmel Demontagnac when he came on. Taylor-Fletcher worked hard and played well before going off limping.
Up top, Ormerod was very quiet, whilst Nardiello showed why myself and others think he might do alright this season. Young Lewis Almond who came on in the second half meanwhile, looked someway off first team standard.
Shifting focus to Crewe, they played well when they got the ball down on the deck but seemed low on confidence. There's enough about them though to suggest they'll have a decent season provided that they can keep hold of their better players (Byron Moore is a player Ian Holloway simply must take another look at... as the many scouts in the home end perhaps were) despite their off the field problems.
So to conclude, a win's a win, but we'll struggle to get wins in the Championship playing like that. Let's hope the return of several first teamers plus home support sees us improve on Saturday for what will be a very tough game against Cardiff.