Away day blues #249214

Last updated : 01 December 2004 By Keith Allman
We're a bit inconsistent this season aren't we? Beat Manchester United, then lose three in a row, follow that up by winning away for the first time in seven months, then get tonked by a team in the league below. One thing's for sure, I certainly wouldn't bet on us.

I'm half debating the fact that it's really not worth going into detail over this game, and just writing it off as "one of those things". We screwed up when a big money semi-final was waiting in the wings, Watford played well and clearly wanted it more, and we just didn't look remotely bothered. On the other hand, the lack of effort throughout the team is scary. Flashback to after the Villa game, and people were bemoaning the lethargy and "comfort zone" our players were clearly in; "Throw in the young lads!" some said.

Well last night, those "young lads" - Taylor in particular - well as lazy and lethargic as everyone else. Berger looked like he didn't want to get injured, Linvoy looked dazed and confused, Fuller fell over a lot, and even Ashdown - even though he admittedly made a couple of good saves later on - really let himself down on the first goal. What makes it such a problem is that although Watford were good, the game was still there for the taking if we played at our full potential. Linvoy missed at 0-0 when it was easier to score; Berger had a good long shot saved at 1-0; but then it all went to pot.

The way we played was just plain weird too. Lots of the ball - around 60% possession - but just no cutting edge, quality of passing, or willingness to tackle. It was like we used to be when we were at the bottom of Division One, everyone afraid to have a shot just in case they got it hideously wrong. We could get up to the edge of the area, then would panic and suddenly the ball would be back at the feet of De Zeeuw. If this is our new "continental" way of playing, then I'm scared! Perhaps we should be following Nigel Quashie's motto; "if you don't buy a ticket, you can't win the raffle." Admittedly he's long overdue at least a cuddly toy from the amount of tickets he's bought in recent years, but it's no good getting near the two white sticks and not trying to get it in the back of the onion bag. Meanwhile, Watford played a strong and direct game; Linvoy and De Zeeuw were outmuscled more times in the one game than I've seen in the entire Premiership this season.

So, what do we take out of it? I'd rather we lost last night rather than Saturday for a start, and hopefully such an appalling performance will encourage us to try that much harder against West Brom. What was a real shame was to see division in the stands; some fans booing during the singing of "Only One Milan"; some joining in the Watford fans singing "One Harry Redknapp"; it's essential the fans stick together in the tough times.

Some have tried pointing the finger at the press conference for disrupting preperations, but at the end of the day these are meant to be professional footballers - I don't see how the chairman and the ex-manager having a chinwag in front of the media a little bit earlier in the day means they no longer have the ability to pass in a straight line.

Best put it out of our minds and concentrate on Saturday, but once again a case of "What might have been"!