It was frustrating afternoon at the iPro but, thankfully my disappointment had more or less subsided by the time I’d sat down in the Brunswick with my pint of Railway Porter. It’s good to have time to reflect, take in the other results & gain a bit of perspective before the journey back to London & then Watford. And it’s a cracking pint, to be honest.
This was a poor performance, make no mistake. Only one shot on goal for us &, to be fair, I don’t think I would have complained if Millwall had won it. They played well, with a good tempo , passed the ball around neatly & it wasn’t really the “parking the bus” we all expected. And my favourite hate figure, Mr Holloway, was looking quite dapper on the touchline in what looked like the same grey suit I wore to my brother’s wedding in 1989. Surreal.
The team news was a tad bizarre, in my view. Whitbread? What had Shotton done wrong? Do we not want a settled central defensive partnership? Perhaps McClaren is just marking time until Buxton is sort of fit. I thought Whitbread struggled throughout & again looked dead on his feet near the end.
The retention of Eustace wasn’t a surprise & he performed his role diligently & robustly, despite the usual booking & usual substitution. Mascarell clearly hasn’t got many more first team opportunities to look forward to, aside from a cold night in Fulham later in the month. That’s a shame, I reckon he could add value to this side, in all sorts of ways (for a start, he can probably take a decent corner, free kick & penalty).
McClaren would do well to find a solution to the Bryson, Hughes, Hendrick conundrum that Clough got caught up in – how do you shoehorn three great midfielders into our midfield. I’m no tactical genius but I’m pretty sure the answer isn’t “stick Hendrick out on the right wing”. He offered nothing in that position but why would he?
Hughes had several moments of magic, particularly in the first half & Bryson put in performance of boundless energy but neither were able to create much in the final third. Ward & Ibe flitted in & out of the game too. Ibe had a good first ten minutes, being booked for diving probably affected him a bit. I’ve still not seen a replay of that but it didn’t appear to me at the time to warrant a booking. Best is clearly struggling & I’m not sure what the solution is to him.
One point off the top ain’t bad at this stage of the season but I think I would prefer us to be bombing on rather than relying on other teams around us to struggle. However, we are where we are & there is a lot to be content with as we head into the international break.
All that was left for me was a journey home with 37 drunken but placid Phil Mitchell lookalikes. Not quite Night of the Living Dead. But close.