Freak show – Blackburn report

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For Paul Jewell it was a freak result -one of those things that happens in football, if he spent time with any of the 12,000 (ish) home fans on Monday evening he’d have heard plenty of other descriptions, none of them delivered with the shrug of the shoulders that the manager’s comment implies.  Once the initial anger had subsided, two other emotions took over; disappointment and concern.

The royal blue tinted glasses might draw your attention to the first half hour, where Latics dominated the game, they may also point out that Latics probably had more possession and shots.  If they’ve been recently polished then you’d be looking at goal line clearances and saves at crucial stages of the game and wondering how different the game might have been.

Unfortunately you’d be kidding yourself.  Yes, Latics could have won this game, but once Blackburn got their noses in front there was no chance.  This certainly wasn’t the Latics that had shown up against Arsenal and Chelsea and over the 90 minutes they were a long way short of being a team that deserved to stay in the top flight, let alone one that might have a chance of doing it.

With the Watford game being a non-event, this game was the start of Latics’ rehabilitation.  If the challenge was to raise the bar, to perform somewhere near the level of those two games against top sides, then this team fell short.  Short on ideas, short on quality, short on spirit, short, in fact, on anything that might get you points in a football game.

Jewell correctly pointed to some poor defending.  The back line may have been the worst of all, but the problems extended throughout the team and didn’t stop there.  With Latics chasing the game, and Skoko injured, Jewell chose to bring on David Wright in midfield, when that didn’t work he switched him with Leighton Baines.  With Teale needing football and Cywka experience, there’d seem to be sense in putting them on, especially with the game lost.  Instead Jewell stuck with the 11 players that had got them in that position.

There may be logic in all of those decisions, Wright was supposed to bring stability and allow Landzaat to go forward, Baines a bit more drive in the middle of the park, if Teale and Cywka had got the inevitable reaction at the final whistle then it may have been counter productive and any way, which of the team deserved a rest in the first place.  The thing is that sort of logic isn’t going to appease the fans who saw Jewell’s actions as a man without ideas, trying to work with a team that he has lost his passion for.

Whether there’s any truth in that is debatable.  If Jewell is after a move to a bigger club, then getting relegated isn’t the way to go about it.  His experiences on the other side of The Pennies should have taught him that walking away does nothing for your reputation.  Still, things just aren’t right at the moment and it’s all eyes on Paul to see his next move.

The first pitch has already been made.  The two Scandinavians fit into two of our problem positions and moves are underway to bring a striker in.  On top of those Jewell is looking for another 2 or 3.  The manager will also be hoping that injuries to Scharner, Camara and Valencia clear sooner rather than later.  Whilst he’s hardly got enough to kick start the season on his own, Jewell will be glad to see McCulloch back in the fold, whether he has given up on Webster only time will tell. 

Essentially Jewell is looking, pretty much, at a totally different set of players to drag us out of the mire, than took the pitch yesterday.  It’s a good job really as only 4 of the 12 did enough to warrant continued selection.  You’d normally be concerned about what that sort of transfer activity might do to team spirit, but on this showing there isn’t any to ruin.
There’s the best part of a fortnight before the next league game, giving time to reflect on how we can get things right, and get some players into the squad.  In any case, there’s no need to worry – it’s only Chelsea!

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