Morning all.

‘I say in the pre-season, in five or six weeks, you can implement how you want to play football. That’s the good thing about pre-season. It’s not what I have and I just try to do small building blocks and try to change things in a slow tempo, so hopefully we can understand it and practice it, but right now we have players who need to recover and we probably only get one and a half (training sessions) again before the next game. That’s football, for me I just try to make it as simple as possible for the players and hopefully we can get better.’  – Freddie Ljungberg.

In eighteen months of trying, Unai Emery couldn’t improve the style of football we played. He couldn’t improve the way we defend or any other aspect of our game. Everything was lethargic, uninspiring and quite frankly, boring. How could anyone truly believe that after just 48 hours after his departure, much would change?

I think the main thing many of us here hoped to see was a change is attitude and I’d say we saw it. Instead of taking the lead in a game and going on to draw it, twice we went behind, yet twice we fought back to equalise. That’s something positive in my opinion, although had our front players been in the form we expect of others, we’d have been two goals to the good before Norwich scored.

Yes, the defending was as bad as it’s been for ten years or more, our midfield was weak and porous and we lacked ruthlessness in front of goal.   No way were we going to be any different to how we’ve been for the last eighteen months in my opinion, not after such a short period of time under a different coach. At least the smiles were back on the players faces, the attitude appeared better and Bernd Leno had a great game between the sticks. Kolasinac looked a bit more like the player we first signed and we fought back well with Torreira nearly nicking all three points at the end.

Mustafi, Sokratis, Luiz. Is there really much difference between the three? All have errors written into their game so playing any two of the three together gives us a weak central defensive pairing. Mustafi turning his back on both goals is something he’s done before and will do so again unless someone drums it out of him. Expecting him, or Luiz for that matter to turn into Tony Adams overnight just isn’t going to happen.

I was surprised not to see Torreira and Holding in our starting eleven, Tierney too. I was surprised Pepe didn’t come on from the bench either but from what Freddie said after the game, he needs to be doing more in training. Perhaps he’s not the only one, or maybe others you or I would have preferred to see in the starting eleven aren’t fully match fit.

Judging by how soon into the second half our players seemed to tire, I’d say there’s a fitness concern in general. Either they’d worked a lot harder than they have been of late and their bodies aren’t used to it, or they’re on the edge of burnout due to training too hard which I know sounds stupid but what other reason can there be? They don’t want to play for Freddie? Their body language and general attitude suggested they do.

Of course we all want to see improvement but let’s at least give Freddie and Merts a few weeks instead of just hours before casting them aside.

Our next match is at home on Thursday evening. The first for us to be broadcast by Amazon Prime, or whatever it’s called. I would bet my last shilling on Torreira starting, but I lost it yesterday….

Have a good Monday guys…