Our miserable 2015 continued with an abject display against fellow relegation candidates, Watford on a day when lost our first ‘must win’ game of the season and left ourselves in danger of being left adrift at the bottom by the time the clocks go back with only our fellow North East basket cases for company. McLaren didn’t see fit to bench at least three or four of the side that performed so poorly at Upton Park, with Anita being the sacrificial lamb from that performance, creating a long overdue place for Perez back in the starting line up.
Playing in front of a noticeably more sparsely populated SJP than usual, we started the brighter of the two teams but the wheels swiftly came off with their first real move of the game on ten minutes. Defensively, it was an absolute shocker as they were allowed to play what seemed like half a dozen passes in our box before picking out the impressive Ighalo who beat Krul with a low shot. The amount of time they were allowed to pick their men and the sheer lack of challenge was astonishing on a day that our defence was ragged all over the place.
The goal seemed to leave the team as shell-shocked as the support and Watford continued to look dangerous every time they came forward. Our best chance of the half was fashioned for the abysmal Cisse, who blazed wide when bearing down on the keeper when he should have hit the target and Sissoko, who despite having the close control of a drunken hippo with its legs tied together, actually looked like the only one willing to take hold of the ball and go forward also had a chance which was spurned. Any notion of dragging ourselves out of our own self created mess was put aside when they doubled their lead just before the half hour and if the first was a defensive meltdown, the second was even worse in it’s easily executed simplicity.
They pumped a long ball forward and with Coloccini set to challenge Deeney in the air, our meek and mild skipper simply stepped back to allow the forward to take the ball down and slip a clever ball through for the onrushing Ighalo, who calmly rounded Krul and slid into the empty net from an angle. Coloccini was disgraceful this afternoon, he seemed palpably shit scared of Deeney and never laid a finger on him all afternoon as the big centre forward was given the run of the park. As for his captaining skills, I know that we have absolutely no-one that you could class as a ‘character’ at the club, but surely anyone would be better than him? His position as skipper also makes him undroppable but I would contend that Steven Taylor is more deserving of a place than him in the side at present, which tells you everything you need to know.
It would have been impossible for the second half to have been as bad as the first and with Cisse hooked for with Cisse hooked for De Jong, we at least had someone in Perez that was willing to run around up front. Again, mind, I though De Jong looked barely interested and I am a long way from sharing some of our fans hopes for his potential impact on the side. Our main attacking threat, right back Daryl Janmaat gave us hope on the hour when as is so often the case, he took responsibility for making a run into the box, calmly finishing into the bottom corner in front of the Gallowgate. A really good finish, but what must he think when he looks around him and realises that he is our main outlet? The goal led to our best ten minutes of the game when it looked like we might salvage something but our pressure led to nothing and as we moved to the final quarter hour of the game, Watford looked as likely to score as us.
Late substitutions saw Aarons coming on at left back, with Colback left stinking the place out in the middle of the park and we finished the game with (I think) Obertan playing centre forward, Perez parked back out on the wing and any semblance of a formation or strategy long out of the window. They missed an absolute sitter in the dying moments of the game but finished as deserved victors to leave us deep in the mire, already.
All over the pitch we were shocking. The centre half pairing were awful, mainly through Coloccini’s cowardly display. Haidara was shocking again and didn’t add anything going forward to compensate for his awful defending. Colback was ‘Mr 5/10’ as he always is, Thauvin looks like Cabella’s long lost twin brother at present and if we’ve bladdered £25m on the pair of them and the former doesn’t come good then Graham Carr should be out on his arse. Cisse simply cannot start the next game and Sissoko and Wijnaldum look incapable of having any influence on the game, no matter of the opponent.
If it is to be assumed that at some point Chelsea are going to get their act together in NE1, then we are looking at two more defeats to come ahead of crunch games against Norwich and the Mackems. I would contend that were McLaren to pick up any less than four points from those four games, then we would be racing certainties to go down and his own job would be starting to look untenable.
Where does it end?
Keep the Faith
St.James Park, Saturday 19th September, 3:00pm, Attendance: 47,806 (looked quite a bit lower than that though)
Team – Krul 5, JANMAAT 7, Coloccini 2, Mbemba 4, Haidara 3 (Aarons n/a), Thauvin 2 (Obertan n/a), Sissoko 5, Wijnaldum 5, Colback 5, Perez 5, Cisse 2 (De Jong 3)
Ref – East – 7 – Can’t think of anything major he got wrong
Our Fans – 4 – Stunned, basically.
Their Fans – 8 – Very noisy, albeit with the standard hymn sheet