If we are going to lose can we learn as well?
In England we have a very particular and peculiar attitude when it comes to cup competitions.
When facing an underdog the form book and, at times, the playing manual tends to go out the Window. That is why, in the last few days we have seen Premiership Clubs like; Liverpool, Chelsea, QPR, Aston Villa, Le Arse, Norwich, left sitting in post match dressing rooms around the country wondering just what happened.
The Leeds game on Sunday and our League Cup Defeat at Norwich in October were typical examples of where our team just does not impose itself on the opposition. But there is a wider situation that AVB needs to understand and certainly address. The English mentality of the 'underdog' appears to be a label that helps smaller clubs rise to the occasion.
There is no sophistication in the English game when the fixture is going to be a dog fight. Sometimes you have to go back to the basics to win certain types of matches. Leeds must have shown AVB that he has to work out how to play teams who are just hell bent on crowding you out. With little time on the ball and an opposition who are willing to chase you all day long AVB needs to pick a team that can dig deep, slug it out and get the ball into areas where chances can be created.
The Leeds match showed us that we just lack that quality in the final third. Clubs like Leeds and Oldham, Bradford, Luton and Millwall manage to make teams like Liverpool, Chelsea, Norwich and us look very ordinary. We have to be able to deal with the attritional challenge that clubs, fighting for a cause, will provide. Apart from some brief exchanges our £80m valued Bale was neutralised by an 18 year rookie for Leeds.
Our Backs at Leeds were caught out of position and left flat footed and our attacks were largely confined to shots from distance or runs into blind alles. Why does this happen? Are we guilty sometimes of turning up thinking we have enough quality on the pitch and that we have a divine right to win?
There was no real quality in the Leeds side on Sunday just lots of players getting into the faces of our players coupled with some very hard graft and every Leeds player putting in a shift. Can we honestly say that all our players put in a shift on Sunday? It's games like Leeds that show us who wants it more.
Whilst we dominated Leeds in terms of possession if that dominance does not translate into goals then all that effort means nothing. Whether its Leeds in the Cup or QPR in the Premiership we know that teams we they feel they are up against it, and are aware of the threat we can pose, will pack the midfield, close down the wide areas and leave us only 2/3rds of the pitch to play in with only a back pass as the only option until the players can work out another way through.
AVB needs to learn from these types of matches and he needs to learn quickly because, as the season comes to its conclusion, we are going to be dragged down into more dog fights where the style of game will be about survival. At the moment we don't have a game plan that can deal with crowded midfields and an opposition that gives our players no time on the ball.
Norwich on Wednesday will be another game where you can bet a quid that there will be no space in the midfield and there will be no spaces to attack unless we can find some quality service. As for the FA Cup we are now one of 13 Premier League sides that have been knocked out of the competition and we are the highest ranking Club in the PL to go out this season. That leaves us realistically with one piece of Silverware to go for, the Europa League.
I don't see us winning the Premiership title! Were not alone in feeling the post FA Cup blues but that's little consolation when we all know that; according to AVB anyway;' 'Leeds made the most of their opportunities,'. 'It was good to come back into the game but we maybe could have done a little better' Like winning the game perhaps.
Written by OyVeh Maria
Win FREE pizza with Vital Football!
Select your team and get 50% off if they score twice.