There isn’t really much to say about this embarrassing experience. Aside from the first 30 minutes where we played well, had a lot of possession but didn’t really create much, we were abject. We actually got worse as the game went on & ended the game in ignominy. A 3 nil defeat at home. Jesus. No chance of Wembley or promotion then & the only thing to look forward to being to faint hope that Mel will have a reality check & quickly appoint an experienced, tactically astute manager. We will see. Who knows what the owner thinks. He’s been silent since those heady days when he sacked Clement for having the temerity to be in 5th position in the play offs.
Couldn’t really criticise Wassall for the team selection. With Hanson & Thorne out, the only player who’s shown he’s anywhere remotely capable in that holding role has been Will. Of course you lose his creativity if you play him deep but there really was no other option. Well, unless you’d made sure during the season that you had a different way of playing if 433 fails (or doesn’t fit the players available). Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
As for the return of Johnson, that had a certain logic to it. You might think that, in a game like this, he’d want to redeem his reputation & put some effort in. No. He was a disgrace. Unfit, lethargic & hardly looking bothered, he could barely pass to another player, let alone tackle or run around. As for the others, well, Martin was still there. And again a study in lethargy & immobility. And often too deep & isolated (the latter not necessarily being his fault).
Hull didn’t look much cop during that first half hour. Sure, they were big, athletic & organised but you need a bit more than that to win a play off semi-final, surely? No, not really. Despite that reasonably good first half hour, our only chances came when Martin shot over from a good position & when Johnson found himself in the area & demonstrated his complete lack of ability to control a football.
We were soon one nil down. Either Johnson or Shackell (or possibly both) lost possession in midfield. Hernandez picked it up, ran towards goal and tried a speculative long range shot. Not brilliantly struck but it did look as though Carson should have done better. That was it for us. The team wasn’t able to cope with conceding, Hull just needed to park the bus & hit us on the break.
The second goal, via a massive deflection from Shacks, only added to the need for decisive action at half time. A formation change, a sub or two, the lumpen Johnson taken off perhaps? No, it appeared that Wassall’s solution was to hope for the best & see what happened. We got worse. Butterfield, Blackman & Bent came on but it was much too late. Did no one at half time think that something needed to be done? What did Wassall’s coterie of coaches & the mentor say? Not much, presumably.
A lot of people think that we still had a chance taking a horrendous, dispiriting two nil defeat back to the KC. I don’t agree. We were dead and buried once Wassall sent out an unchanged team in that 2nd half. Yes, conceding that 3rd goal was naive (& again Carson was at fault) but it is absolutely, completely utterly irrelevant.
Did any player come out of this with any credit? Hughes perhaps, who toiled desperately in that deep role. Bryson, until he ran out of steam. That’s it. The rest were awful.
On to Tuesday night then. Manic Street Preachers at the Royal Albert Hall. Looking forward to it. Wonder of they’ll play my 2 favourite songs – “From Despair to Where” & “Everything Must Go”?