Huddersfield Town 1 - West Bromwich Albion 0
'Be careful what you wish for'. Well I wish Tony to be gone. There is no way forward now. Down to 10 men and what I saw was lateral movement, no penetration, no one wanting it, and we struggled to make chances. Pulis has turned really talented footballers into looking really poor, lacking confidence and no longer thinking we can win matches with the style we play.
If we go down, we go down, but lets get rid of this bloke, and get someone in who understands who plays in what position and why. And lets get rid of Rondon. We had an offer apparently from China for 30 Mill to get rid. Sorry but he is rubbish and to take off Robson-Kanu, who played decent, to replace him, speaks volumes.
Tony you kept us up a couple of seasons ago, but get rid now Mr Chairman and try and salvage our season.
Where to start with this?
The starting 11 and formation was a big concern. Once again there was no pace or width, 3 holding midfielders and in my opinion a strange decision to start HRK up top - it's not like he's looked a threat when coming on and for his hold up play to be effective he needs pace around him.
The first half was a mostly drab encounter with us managing to create a couple of half chances on the break despite being void of any creativity or ideas when we got the ball.
To me this demonstrated how bang average Huddersfield were.
Probably the most annoying thing about our play was the number of free kicks we gave away all over the pitch - it seemed to be one every 30 seconds - and the usual time wasting.
Most of our play ended up as hoofs from GMac - not his fault but when we did get 4 or 5 passes together he was often where the ball ended up, backwards and sideways.
A minute to go before half time and under no pressure at all Gibbs hoofed it long (as we did all game) giving it away cheaply and 30 seconds later we were a goal down following a foul wrongly given against JRod, a quick free quick, some soft defending from Nyom and Hegazi and a great strike.
Amazingly there were no changes at half time and to be frank we were clueless until the sending off which seemed to force Pulis to make 3 attacking subs. In my opinion, the starting 11 and formation were so bad and left us so handicapped that 3 subs were not enough to address our problems.
We swapped our spare centre back, 3rd holding midfielder and ineffective striker for 2 wingers and a striker, which were good and positive moves but we could've done with Chadli or Brunt too to try and play a pass or something. Burke didn't even make the bench.
In truth it took 15 minutes for us to even get to grips with our changes and there seemed to be little plan or purpose to our play with Phillips & McClean swapping wings, coming into the centre and there being very little creativity. Both wingers looked short on confidence and match sharpness which is understandable given their treatment.
As Huddersfield tired we began to click a bit and created chances late on that went close but in the end Huddersfield deserved it.
Like most fans I'm at the point where it's hard to see how anyone with reasonable experience or pedigree could do any worse with this squad. My overarching feeling is verging on heartbreak though - all the hard work of the last 15 years seems to be going down the drain. We are in big trouble and it's hard to get out of these troughs when things have been so bad for so long, despite this being nowhere near the 3rd worst squad on the league.
To try and take a positive, I don't think any individual played that badly, hid or didn't give anything to the end. They just looked hamstrung by the tactics and lost when gifted possession for large parts of the 2nd half because it is so alien to them.
We can still turn this around but we have surrendered many of the points against opposition sides we need to be taking them and that really catches up with you in the final 3rd of the season.
Tony Pulis is immensely experienced and generally successful in a mid-table sort of manner i.e. with modest buying power. But if there is merit in his five at the back (plus 'keeper) and three holding midfielders making nine players not really equipped to create Premier League attacks, what is it? Or is it entirely due to injuries to others?
Asking "wing backs" (who both get forward anyway) to be as guileful and accurate as Brunt or as versatile (wing or in the box) as Phillips is unreasonable. Playing without Morrison is injury-related which raises questions: (1) play Brunt? OK a bit wider but skill is skill and he can be a bonus defender (2) where are the kids and what are their loan terms? (A baby goalkeeper can be Man of the Match at Huddersfield so....)(3) is Chadli in the doghouse again? You'd have to guess so as he is "in and out" in several senses.
All those defensively minded players must surely get in each other's way or create an "After you Claude" mentality. Watching that goalscorer standing in an acre of empty space yesterday reinforced my view that Yacob should start. He has been excellent before when coming in fresh after being out of favour and can always be subbed if he gets over zealous closing people down.
Foster, Nyom Hegazi Evans (sub McAuley for either) Gibbs, Yacob (sub Livermore) Barry (sub Greg), Phillips and Brunt each side and both can drop back if a full back is far forward (subs Chadli/McClean or Livermore/Greg if need to hold), Rodriguez plus Robson-Kanu or Rondon. Morrison can replace the "other" striker playing No.10.
I'm not an advocate of chopping and changing managers, but the case for making a move builds with every passing game. Our squad is packed with current and past internationals, the transfer window was deemed by most observers to be one of our best ever, there was excitement surrounding our young prospects and yet we play a brand of football which gives the fans, and more importantly the players, little hope of winning. Perhaps you can understand loading the defence and sitting deeper against Man City, but we adopt the same tactics against the weaker teams.
Pulis has had three windows to address midfield creativity and goalscoring, but instead he has loaded up with holding midfielders, resigning one of our more consistent performers, Yacob, to the bench. He has had the money to spend, but our line-ups have a very imbalanced look about them. Playing boring, ultra-defensive football and getting results is just about bearable, but two wins in nineteen games is surely evidence enough that something is radically wrong.
Can anyone answer three simple questions:
Pulis's Albion travelled to newly promoted Huddersfield for what surely respresented their best chance of trying to nick all three points in the midst of a four game tough run, although the BeIN Sports' announcers bigged it up as "Huddersfield taking on a struggling West Bromwich Albion and perhaps it was more with that struggling in mind that saw Pulis feeling the game would best be approached by stacking three big central defenders in behind the all too familiar three defensive midfielders. Up front, both of our strikers who can also do a job out wide were given a run, meaning that Rondon, our one out-and-out striker made way for HRK.
Clearly the ghosts of past successes from set-pieces still live on in the memory of the wider commentary fraternity, as our second minute corner brought out all the usual cliches, whilst the actual set piece action merely saw Heagzi's free header being headed across the goal rather than towards it.
With Albion eventually back weathering the pressure that Pulis's willingness to leave most matchday creativity at the feet of the opposition typically sees them having to handle, their hosts had a half-shout for a penalty in the 14th minute as three Albion defenders lost sight of the ball on the corner of the box and, whilst Gibbs stretched a long way to get a clearing toe on the ball, the home striker made a bit of a meal of the "challenge" and the referee waved the claims away.
Rodriguez would get in behind the very high line that the home side were taking but his rather weak effort was also blocked by a defender who had made up enough ground to do so, and would even force the keeper into scooping up an ever so slightly harder hit ball, which chalked up Albion's first attempt on target against the Terriers in the 36th minute.
Albion were already into time-wasting mode at throw-ins as the break approached and so Lady Luck, who probably nipped out early so as beat the queue for the bogs, missed all of their defensive work undone with only a minute more to go, as van La Parra let fly with a shot from twenty-five yards that went over all eight of the defenders that Albion had got between the ball and the goal and nestled into the top corner, Foster not even bothering to try and leave his feet to make a save.
As the 56th minute approached, Pulis had three players warming up in readiness for a triple substitution but was probably wondering what was going on as one of his three central defenders, Hegazi, decided to show his three central midfielders what creativity might look like, in bringing the ball out from the back with a run that saw him taken down by the fourth player he tried to dribble past, a foul that saw Schindler get a second yellow and leave the field.
Rather than take a few minutes to see how Huddersfield would look to restructure their side, and maybe think about a plan for scoring against ten men, Pulis just stuck with plan he had already come up with for eleven and just made the same triple substitution anyway
Rather than risk defending against ten men by bringing on Chadli, out went one of each of the three centre-backs and three defensive midfielders, wrong-sided wingers McClean and Phillips coming on for McAuley and Krychowiak, whilst the front-two merely got a like-for-like refresh, with Rondon replacing HRK, although the target-man's first job would be to watch as Foster lumped the dead-ball forwards way beyond and away from anyone in a Albion shirt and straight through to his opposite number.
Some twenty minutes or so after the potentially game-changing triple substitution, Rodrigueaz had a shot that just about stayed within the lines of the six-yard box as it flew wide, but it wouldn't be until the match was into the time allowed for stoppages that Pulis's Albion would have their next attempt on target, even managing to have two in two minutes, however as luck would have it, the Huddersfiled keeper was equal to both McClean's header from the edge of the six-yard-box and Phillips's shot from the edge of the box, diving at full stretch to his right to palm away the former, and to his left to palm away the latter.
Nine games without a win would probably have most managers worried but, despite the few discernible cries of "Pulis Out" with around five minutes to go, when you're a manager whose gets all of his plaudits for sides that don't try to win games anyway, nine games without a win is presumably shrugged off by manager, board and the apologists for his style of football amongst the fans alike, as the same kind of "occupational hazard" that Ronnie Barker's Fletcher viewed his spells in prison as, and there must surely be some kind of parallel to be made with those suffering "Porridge" and Pulis's restriction of the freedom of the Albion squad to play football.
I am going to stand up for Tony.
I watched on Saturday amongst the Huddersfield fans as tickets sold out.
Yes we created little. But we do not look like a team that is not organised and not going to turn it around. The signings have increased our quality on the ball but its made no difference to the number of balls getting to the front man. Tony must be wondering why?
We are conceding at the edge of the box when in previous seasons Claudio or Fletch may well have been there. It all seems logical that Barry and Greg increase our distribution of the ball. Using 3 centre backs allows someone extra to be nearer the lone striker. Logical.
When you are in a run like we are things do not gel and that was obvious on Saturday. Tony has bought these 5 new players (include last seasons Livermore) and they should increase your collective skill level. But it's not working.
Greg had the worst game I have seen him play. JRod seems never to have had a space.
But look back at the previous games to this one. Southampton. Excellent ball from Greg in one on one. He hits the corner flag. Should have been so different.
Look at Watford retreat. I am convinced if Claudio had been on the field that equaliser would not have happened.
Look at Leicester. Same. Claudio would have closed the space.
I think we should be careful what we wish for. Tony will keep us up. We just need a win from somewhere and perhaps a realisation that although Barry-Greg-Livermore are supposedly better on the ball, are they as good as Claudio off it?
Perhaps he should try Brunt behind the striker. I certainly think this game re-affirms the need for 4-5-1.
It was a classic and predictable win for the Terriers on Saturday with the passion and noise they made. Have they more quality and organisation than us? We will see. Keep Tony or we end up as West Ham. Thinking someone would bring style and free flowing football, but actually only bringing despair.
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