The blame game!
Football is no longer about eleven men against another eleven, because if you lose it is never a boy the quality of an opposition, but the failings of your own team.
In fairness, yesterday, I suppose many fans will have a point in directing anger at certain players and errors at Elland Road, and If I am honest, there weren't too many individuals that could really be marked down as playing to their usual standard, let alone stepping up their games, when the opposition looked really up for the fight. Can we blame a collective apathy, bad day at the office or a simple lack of quality in key areas? I will leave that to you to decide in your own blame game.
Clearly for me, we defended naively for both Leeds goals and if I am honest, neither Caulker or Vertonghen played well and were guilty for a goal each in my opinion. Can we accept that Caulker is fully entitled to an occasional error at this stage in his development, whilst do we expect more that he is ready to give from Vertonghen, in suggesting that he is the defensive leader and at the moment, we still need one of Gallas or Dawson alongside him to marshall our back line?
Also I believe we missed Kyle Walkers rampaging runs on the right side. Sure he has been caught out far too often this season, but is that what we should expect at his stage of development and also when we demand the attacking penetration so often? Staying with the defensive unit, I was pleased to see Brad Friedel make some very good saves, which perhaps kept the score-line respectable, however is there still a fact that his style of keeping contributes to an uncertainty in our defending? Players all too easily get complacent and how often has Lloris mopped up and played the sweeper role behind the back line? In fairness he probably couldn't have done a thing about either goal, but does his way of defending make our players a little complacent with an over the top or through ball?
In midfield, I felt it was a real battle of the brave, Leeds closed down superbly and also got the run of the game from a very lenient set of officials. I felt that Michael Brown could probably have picked up a handful of yellow cards in the game, but though, Parker in particular battled manfully, I did feel that we lacked that killer ball with Scott and Tom, whilst Bale and Lennon, also struggled to put their stamp on the game and perhaps tried too hard to be individually brilliant, as opposed to looking at the better team option. I still have sympathy for Sigurdsson, as I feel he is still looking to find his feet and position that really suits him in the team. He is still playing too high for me and looks better facing goal and playing 20 yards deeper from a starting position, but in that case who makes way? is this a confidence or quality issue or are we missing a trick tactically?
Losing both of Adebayor and Defoe was a worst case scenario, however if we hopefully only lose both for one game, then I am glad it was for this one. Fingers crossed that Jermain if fit and firing for Norwich. Talk that Dempsey can happily step into the main striking role would appear to be backed up by stats of five goals in five games, and 23 last season for Fulham, but for me, he is so much more effective playing from deep, where he ghosts in like Teddy Sheringham making himself so hard to mark, whilst also creative more for others. Sure he can do the No9 role, but he remains a little uncomfortable for me and certainly less effective. 'Another striker please!', I hear you all cry...
For someone that was brought up in an era when FA Cup final day was the biggest occasion on the football calendar, and everyone made it a whole day experience, I still find is sad that I don't feel greater hurt or anger at our elimination yesterday. Is this just my maturing and calmer outlook on life or a clear indication that domestic cup football doesn't have the same attraction for anyone in the game. We know that teams rested players with the consideration of the mid-week Prem games, and that indicates where the priorities lie. Could the governing bodies re-look at the fixtures, if they are to see the best out of what was once the biggest and best domestic cup competition in the world? I bet we would have seen stronger Spurs, Norwich, Liverpool, Chelsea and QPR teams this weekend, but then again I might be just looking for someone or something to blame, as my team yet again miss out of silverware...
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