Date:Saturday November 11 2006
Despite all the talk earlier this week by Stuart Pearce that he still has confidence in his strikers, the reality on the field is that they are still lacking confidence in front of goal and misfiring badly.
Questions have been asked about Psycho's tactical ability, and seeing the team selection for this six-pointer, doubts about his ability to pick the right team and tactics for the right occasion will deepen.
City did start quite brightly and dominated the possession in the 1st half against a Newcastle team that seemed even less confident than City. Barton had a great chance to get an early goal, but he managed to steer a close range effort wide of the post with only the 'keeper to beat; a simple chip would have sufficed and City would have had a dream start - disappointingly, that was not to be.
City battled on in a workmanlike fashion and created quite a few promising attacks, but were always let down by the final ball. We're crying out for an intelligent midfield general to get the game by the scruff of the neck and make the right decision for the right occasion. How many chances have we seen go begging this season, because a player chose the wrong option?
Newcastle fought back in the 2nd period and finished much the stronger. It was a nervy last few minutes and had the 'Toon played like that for the majority of the game, they'd probably have come away with all three points.
Not wanting to be upstaged by the players, Graham Poll will make the headlines yet again for ruling out a perfectly good City goal when Samaras headed in a close range effort. It's not just my natural City bias, but the Sky TV commentary team all agreed the goal should have stood - thanks a bunch Graham !
Back to Pearce though and team selection. The forward pairing of Dickov and Vassell are never going to score many goals. They're too similar in style and neither of them are natural goal scorers, so why pick them both together? They would be much better used just behind the front two in a classic 'Paul Scholes' role.
Trabelsi, who had his best game so far is a natural right back, so why play him in midfield? Surely it would have been better to push Micah up into the middle, where he played most of his academy and reserve football and keep Trabelsi in defence.
Sinclair is not a left winger. He didn't have a particularly great game, but I wouldn't blame him too much as that's just not his position, so why play him there? Ishmael Miller is a much better option out left, so why drop him after only a couple of games when he did pretty well. How can being dropped after such a short run do anything for his confidence?
That brings me on to Reyna, and I try hard not to have a go at him after every game, but I'm sorry Claudio, you were poor and ineffective once more. Again, it's the manager who I'm more critical of than the player. Everyone except the coaching staff can see he's out of form and struggling badly, so why keep playing him and getting the same predictable result?
I was a big Pearce fan until recently and thought he'd turn the club around after KK's departure, but I'm now more convinced he's out of his depth and unable to drag us out of the mire. It pains me to say that, but we need to face up to the stark realities. We should have won easily today against a poor and demotivated Newcastle, but we end up hanging on to save a point.
Talk of new signings in January is just papering over the cracks. Yes the players are guilty of under-performing on the pitch, but the management are equally if not more responsible by consistently making wrong calls.
Time's beginning to run out, and City's fortunes need to improve quickly. Can the current management set-up sort it out? - on today's evidence the answer is probably no.
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