Often Partisan

A heavy blow but not a fatal one

Normally, I’d do a write up of the previous match the day after, but having read many of the messageboards, I don’t think much more can be added. It was a dire result, a poor performance – particularly defensively – and it’s a worry that we can play so badly with a local derby coming up, especially considering our poor record in local derbies this season.

I think the only thing that can be done is to draw a line under the performance, write it off as a spectacularly bad couple of away games, and look to the future. The one good thing this weekend is that no-one took advantage of our poor result; Wigan and West Ham both lost, and Wolves drew. A win against Wolves would in my mind secure our Premiership future completely next season – maybe not mathematically but to a point where it’s almost impossible for us to go down – and in my mind it’s down to McLeish to ensure that we win against Wolves.

Injury-wise, losing Ben Foster could be a massive blow. Apparently he’s got a stiff back and a dead leg; hopefully neither severe enough to rule him out of the next game. It’s not that I’m against Colin Doyle; more that we have a severe lack of cover in the Goalkeeping stakes, with Maik Taylor having had a shoulder op and Jack Butland is just not anywhere near ready for the Premiership, even on the bench. Our Physio team need to work hard this week to ensure Fozzy can at least be cover on the bench if not come back into the team; in saying that I do look at players who have history against other clubs and I remember well the game Doyle saved a pen at Molineux to ensure we won 3-2.

Talking of players who have a “hoodoo” on the Wolves, I think Kevin Phillips must start against the old gold and black. 4-4-1-1 is not working for us; Hleb doesn’t offer anywhere near enough in the attacking midfield slot and we need players in the box to create pressure on their keeper. Likewise, I think Barry Ferguson was a huge miss today and again I hope he’s fit and ready for the visit of Wolves. Nikola Zigic seems to have gone MIA recently with his injury; I’ve heard disturbing rumours about him wanting out and I hope to God that they are nothing more than rumours – Zigic was a huge presence for us before the Carling Cup Final and we’re missing him dreadfully.

Looking at the table, I’m more convinced than ever 38 points will be ok for survival; with four games left Wigan and Blackpool have 34; Wolves have a game in hand but one point fewer and West Ham are another point back, with four to go. Wolves have to pretty much play everyone around them, and in some ways are the key to what will happen in the shake-up; of those four teams I think they will be the ones to survive, which is why it’s important we don’t allow them to take three points off us.

In short, yes today was a hideous result. It was a shocking performance, and it’s killed our goal difference. In the long run though, I honestly feel it will be nothing more than another blip in a unconvincing league campaign; it won’t be one that condemns us to life in the Championship. Have faith Bluenoses.

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