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Hard Players (Do we need some?)


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7 hours ago, ohhhshauntaylor said:

Marlon Pack. 
we sold him and replaced him with Adam Nagy, who had never played in this league, was smaller, less robust, and so far has proved to be a serious downgrade. 
 

 

Not disagreeing and know it’s been discussed on another thread but Christ what has happened to Nagy? When we signed him his first few glimpses were superb 

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7 hours ago, Mr Popodopolous said:

Senior players under him do not seem to last long or have a great time of it...

Already mentioned on here, Wilbraham did not especially rate him.

O'Neil- Promotions. Hegeler, was he late 20's, early 30's, played for a big team in Germany.

I personally have a theory and have had one in the back of my mind for a while, that he has a problem with managing successfully players from a higher level than him as a player. I can't quite place it, or why- but it seems a recurring theme, to me.  Not even just senior players but certainly seems more pronounced there- perhaps even both!

He likes to coach his ‘students’ as he calls them. 

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"Hard" can be misinterpreted - don't we simply need leaders? LJ has mentioned it before but of course always reverts to type with his signings by the time the next transfer window comes round. As others have said, he is so obviously insecure about the threat of someone with a voice, experience and determination who might undermine him.

Watching on TV with the camera following the action is a different experience that doesn't afford the opportunity to cast your eye around the pitch and see the body language and frustration of other players. That's normally telling of leadership - who is calling people out? But even in what we could see I didn't get much sense that anyone was. 

That suggests to me one of two things: either we lack a player with the leadership and the personality to take that sort of display personally and get into the players around them, or the players to a man were all conspicuously aware that the problem lies in the tactics/gameplan, so weren't surprised and saw no reason to pin it on one another.

I suspect there's probably a bit of both. LJ's complex patterns of play require finely drilled units of players working as a collective more than as individuals. The emphasis on team and teamwork is no bad thing, but in our lot I fear we have "chess pieces" who have been so drilled by instructions they lack an instinct to tell each other what to do.

And at that point, these issues - tactics and lack of leadership - collide. Team ethic (as in working collectively to a plan) is fine but without leaders, individual responsibility for failing to execute is something no one is prepared to call out. I look at the squad and wonder who the player is who'd tell it to you straight and isn't trying to win any friends?

I'm not sure we have one. Yes players like that have been disruptive at our club in the past, but god knows we could do with one out on the pitch to make things a little less cosy as we're slipping to 2-1 then 3-1 down after weeks of planning and preparation, showing little focus and too casual and sloppy an approach. Where is the wake up call?

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There are certain teams that nobody likes playing against - eg Neil (50% hates him, 50% loves him) Warnock teams. I can’t imagine that anyone is particularly worried about playing against City. You can’t have the old fashioned hard players / teams today due to changes in the interpretation of the laws of the game. The Leeds team of the 70s wouldn’t get away with their tactics today, but the modern incarnation - Warnock - does get away with it. I’m not suggesting City appointment Warnock as manager, or City resort to some of his tactics, but City need a manager like him who buys players who are nasty in a nice way and are prepared to fight (not literally). There are far too many City players who are nice. 

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8 hours ago, Dr Balls said:

I think that LJ is actually extremely insecure, hence his inability to be able to work with top level players and big characters. And given our current form, he deserves to be insecure, but it’s not good for the team or the club at the moment. Lower half of the table finish is beckoning if this continues for the next 8 games, which might at least force the situation.

I’ve toyed with this issue for several years and I really still can’t make my mind up.

Is LJ insecure or is he a bully with an ego?

 

Whichever, it’s a character flaw which ain’t going to deliver a successful, high performing team or get the best out of individuals. 

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4 hours ago, bpexile said:

G'day Mr Pop, I take onboard what you say so with that in mind, do you think the legendary Norman Hunter would have been as successful in todays game?. I realise it's comparing eras but just interested in your thoughts👍.

I definitely think Norman Hunter would be successful today because he was a very skilful player. His  skill is often overlooked because of the bite yer legs part of his game. Being a skilful player he would have easily adapted to the modern style of play. 

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1 hour ago, Club and Country said:

Not disagreeing and know it’s been discussed on another thread but Christ what has happened to Nagy? When we signed him his first few glimpses were superb 

the first few glimpses everyone talks about were 90 mins vs Birmingham, and 45 mins vs QPR.

So 1.5 games of looking "good".

 

He's weak, too slow, and offers nothing vs the shield, height, strength and passing ability of Pack, certainly not an upgrade.

 

 

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There was an instance on Saturday when a Blackburn player ran from midfield 3 or 4 City players had a chance to bring him down and take one for the team,that is what we lack,we are too soft and opposition players know it

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5 minutes ago, BS13 Robin said:

There was an instance on Saturday when a Blackburn player ran from midfield 3 or 4 City players had a chance to bring him down and take one for the team,that is what we lack,we are too soft and opposition players know it

Massengo was the only one getting stuck in , Smith was nowhere , unfortunately the ref was conned by the wily Rover’s players and ruined his game whilst overlooking some dangerous fouls committed on the lad. 
 

HNM has been criticised by many on here following Saturday but , I repeat , if his teammates had shown half of his dedication we wouldn’t have lost.

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3 minutes ago, Major Isewater said:

Massengo was the only one getting stuck in , Smith was nowhere , unfortunately the ref was conned by the wily Rover’s players and ruined his game whilst overlooking some dangerous fouls committed on the lad. 
 

HNM has been criticised by many on here following Saturday but , I repeat , if his teammates had shown half of his dedication we wouldn’t have lost.

The challenge on him just before halftime when he got injured was a good example,Blackburn player went in foot up didn't even get a talking to by the ref,i said at the time that if their were fans in the ground Blackburn player could well have seen red!

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13 hours ago, Mr Popodopolous said:

Hard men in this day and at decent levels are no substitute for- IMO of course:

  • Technique
  • Cohesion
  • Movement
  • Creativity
  • Stability
  • Chance creation

If you want but I'm not sure how much it improves us. Hard men of the old days, red card waiting to happen now? We gave away 9-10 fouls in the first 20 yesterday and while I don't think we set out with a dirty approach, it just goes to show the risk of an old style physical hardman type player. Op, what do you mean by hardman? If you mean internally having re-read your post that could be different!

We do lack that midfielder with bite a player like Jake Livermore, Bradley Johnson or Kalvin Phillips who can do the dirty side of the game yet still do the basics 

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Not sure "hard" players is quite the right term today, but a mix of leadership and a deep competitive desire is missing. It has been for sometime. We saw with the L1 winning side that there is a point when the collective, as a team, can create a result greater than the individual impact. I use the example not as a SC vs LJ thing, but a visible example of what it looks like to see a side working for each other . Yes it went wrong after a few months and we will never know if that spirit could have gt SC out of trouble. But in L1 it was obvious the players were working for each other. What you see now is a group of players who look most of the time scared and confused. Certainly far from a well drilled side that have routines, triggers and patterns set on auto play. Far far from it. We are a soft touch , or at least teams can over load us physically . Hence in the last window we signed Henrikson and Benkovic adding some height. We are very limited with choice n midfield right now, Henrikson gone, Nagy , who knows, Massengo not ready, and the others bar Smith not the type to regain or protect possession. I still struggle with our transfer and playing policy, we seem to sign players for a system,  then don't use them in the right way, or play in a way that makes nonsense of the signing. I really have no idea , game to game, what we are trying to achieve. It is incoherent , muddled , and confusing. For the players it must be the same, and that will lead to lack of confidence and difficulty to apply the game plan. With that confidence maybe we would see a more competitive and collective approach from the team. We got the squad back, injury free, had more weeks of train9ng with the new players etc. but the result was the same. We will play far better, we know that, but looking at the fixtures ahead, if we are not going to be competitive all across the 11 players, where will the points come from. 

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5 hours ago, Club and Country said:

Not disagreeing and know it’s been discussed on another thread but Christ what has happened to Nagy? When we signed him his first few glimpses were superb 

 

4 hours ago, daored said:

Would he come back to work with Lee? Wasn’t there a falling out ?

According to the interview which was posted on here some time ago, he didn't rate LJ at all!

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4 hours ago, Olé said:

"Hard" can be misinterpreted - don't we simply need leaders? LJ has mentioned it before but of course always reverts to type with his signings by the time the next transfer window comes round. As others have said, he is so obviously insecure about the threat of someone with a voice, experience and determination who might undermine him.

Watching on TV with the camera following the action is a different experience that doesn't afford the opportunity to cast your eye around the pitch and see the body language and frustration of other players. That's normally telling of leadership - who is calling people out? But even in what we could see I didn't get much sense that anyone was. 

That suggests to me one of two things: either we lack a player with the leadership and the personality to take that sort of display personally and get into the players around them, or the players to a man were all conspicuously aware that the problem lies in the tactics/gameplan, so weren't surprised and saw no reason to pin it on one another.

I suspect there's probably a bit of both. LJ's complex patterns of play require finely drilled units of players working as a collective more than as individuals. The emphasis on team and teamwork is no bad thing, but in our lot I fear we have "chess pieces" who have been so drilled by instructions they lack an instinct to tell each other what to do.

And at that point, these issues - tactics and lack of leadership - collide. Team ethic (as in working collectively to a plan) is fine but without leaders, individual responsibility for failing to execute is something no one is prepared to call out. I look at the squad and wonder who the player is who'd tell it to you straight and isn't trying to win any friends?

I'm not sure we have one. Yes players like that have been disruptive at our club in the past, but god knows we could do with one out on the pitch to make things a little less cosy as we're slipping to 2-1 then 3-1 down after weeks of planning and preparation, showing little focus and too casual and sloppy an approach. Where is the wake up call?

Said similar things for 3 years Rob.

I never see a player give another player a bollocking on the pitch.  I never see a player say “effin ell lads were being overrun, just sit in for ten minutes”....because that would be undermining LJ’s perceived tactical wisdom.

I appreciate I sit halfway up the LS with a good view of the whole pitch.  I see tactical switches made by the opposition that we do nothing about.  Okay, you could argue that we shouldn’t adapt / tweak because of what the opposition does, but when it creates imbalance and they threaten / score from it, then I believe you should.

I think he might be good on the training ground, he might be good retrospectively analysing a game and presenting that back to the players using a 15 foot screen....but his in-game reading is not good enough.  And by that, so much his coaches.  What are his analyst feeding back?

3 simple examples from the last 3 season.

Sunderland 3-3 - McGeady comes on, 3-0 up we are, he’s a winger....but he instead of staying out wide he drifts infield creating an extra man.  It sucks in our Left Midfielder, meaning that suddenly Bryan is exposed by their right winger in continuous 1 on 1s.  Cattermole and McGeady now have 2 on 1 centrally and use that to work it out wide to the RW.   Why didn’t we drop a CF back into midfield?

West Brom 3-2 - the 4222 Webster in DM game.  Fantastic, we caught them out inside 20 mins racing to a 3-0 lead.  James Shan, the WBA caretaker manager with no managerial experiences, realises and goes to a back 3, they take control and bar the odd counter attack (Dasilva hits post) we hang on for the win.  At 3-0 the game was won, we almost lost it.

Reading 1-0 -  a subtle change from Reading second half moves Ejaria, their best player and CM to the LW.  He is too clever for Eliasson, drags him infield, leaving their LB to face up Pereira.  He knows Eliasson won’t track him and then runs off the back of him in behind Pereira as they exploit us time and time again.

I think his ego sets it up that his tactics are superior so eventually they’ll play out.  They don’t.

He is making the same mistakes as 3/4 seasons ago.

4 hours ago, RedRock said:

I’ve toyed with this issue for several years and I really still can’t make my mind up.

Is LJ insecure or is he a bully with an ego?

 

Whichever, it’s a character flaw which ain’t going to deliver a successful, high performing team or get the best out of individuals. 

Both I would think.

1 hour ago, Major Isewater said:

Massengo was the only one getting stuck in , Smith was nowhere , unfortunately the ref was conned by the wily Rover’s players and ruined his game whilst overlooking some dangerous fouls committed on the lad. 
 

HNM has been criticised by many on here following Saturday but , I repeat , if his teammates had shown half of his dedication we wouldn’t have lost.

Agree, think Smith and Massengo were met down massively by those around them.

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11 hours ago, Dr Balls said:

We have a number of international players in our squad but you would never know it from the way that they are playing at the moment. Which again suggests it’s not that our players aren’t good enough, but that the problem is with who is leading them. The number of players who have lost form as soon as they arrive at Ashton Gate but magically seem to find it as soon as they go elsewhere is staggering!

That's where your Waenock & Pulis type managers get more out of players and don't shy away from dropping them if they don't listen 

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19 minutes ago, billywedlock said:

Not sure "hard" players is quite the right term today, but a mix of leadership and a deep competitive desire is missing. It has been for sometime. We saw with the L1 winning side that there is a point when the collective, as a team, can create a result greater than the individual impact. I use the example not as a SC vs LJ thing, but a visible example of what it looks like to see a side working for each other . Yes it went wrong after a few months and we will never know if that spirit could have gt SC out of trouble. But in L1 it was obvious the players were working for each other. What you see now is a group of players who look most of the time scared and confused. Certainly far from a well drilled side that have routines, triggers and patterns set on auto play. Far far from it. We are a soft touch , or at least teams can over load us physically . Hence in the last window we signed Henrikson and Benkovic adding some height. We are very limited with choice n midfield right now, Henrikson gone, Nagy , who knows, Massengo not ready, and the others bar Smith not the type to regain or protect possession. I still struggle with our transfer and playing policy, we seem to sign players for a system,  then don't use them in the right way, or play in a way that makes nonsense of the signing. I really have no idea , game to game, what we are trying to achieve. It is incoherent , muddled , and confusing. For the players it must be the same, and that will lead to lack of confidence and difficulty to apply the game plan. With that confidence maybe we would see a more competitive and collective approach from the team. We got the squad back, injury free, had more weeks of train9ng with the new players etc. but the result was the same. We will play far better, we know that, but looking at the fixtures ahead, if we are not going to be competitive all across the 11 players, where will the points come from. 

If you design such an intricate method of playing, that requires thought for every situation rather than instinct (the reason these players are what they are), then when an opponent stifles that, you are buggered. The players look frightened to play their own game, the game that created them as the players that made us sign them.

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4 hours ago, daored said:

Would he come back to work with Lee? Wasn’t there a falling out ?

I was only being half serious. ⬇️

8 minutes ago, EstoniaTallinnRed said:

 

According to the interview which was posted on here some time ago, he didn't rate LJ at all!

I don’t think there was a falling out, but listening to both the Jon Parkin and OSIB pods, I certainly think he was finding it hard to be complimentary, whereas with Cotts you could tell he loved him.

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8 hours ago, Oh Louie louie said:

We need somebody with agression in midfield.

Somebody who would kick a opposition player up in the air after 5 minutes, make the dolman go mental.

 

Get a booking within 5 and be walking the tightrope? Those many early fouls on Saturday stalled our momentum significantly and helped Blackburn's.  They certainly started quicker than is in any case.

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38 minutes ago, Davefevs said:

If you design such an intricate method of playing, that requires thought for every situation rather than instinct (the reason these players are what they are), then when an opponent stifles that, you are buggered. The players look frightened to play their own game, the game that created them as the players that made us sign them.

The funny thing about the intricate method bit is that IMO it's an intricate method but with the wrong system as opposed to formation let's say system, to make it work correctly. At good levels anyway.

A simpler version of his ideas in a more suitable shape may see significant improvement.

Edited by Mr Popodopolous
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9 hours ago, bpexile said:

G'day Mr Pop, I take onboard what you say so with that in mind, do you think the legendary Norman Hunter would have been as successful in todays game?. I realise it's comparing eras but just interested in your thoughts👍.

Hi bpexile 

Thinking about it, was perhaps a bit hasty. Good players can adapt, great players even more so! It would be interesting to see, but I've seen some footage of Hunter online and it looked like he could bring the ball out of defence,  even on those pitches!

Silk and steel- perhaps he'd retain a degree of physicality and focus more on the technical side. Far better pitches would help with the latter too.

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4 hours ago, Davefevs said:

Said similar things for 3 years Rob.

I never see a player give another player a bollocking on the pitch.  I never see a player say “effin ell lads were being overrun, just sit in for ten minutes”....because that would be undermining LJ’s perceived tactical wisdom.

I appreciate I sit halfway up the LS with a good view of the whole pitch.  I see tactical switches made by the opposition that we do nothing about.  Okay, you could argue that we shouldn’t adapt / tweak because of what the opposition does, but when it creates imbalance and they threaten / score from it, then I believe you should.

I think he might be good on the training ground, he might be good retrospectively analysing a game and presenting that back to the players using a 15 foot screen....but his in-game reading is not good enough.  And by that, so much his coaches.  What are his analyst feeding back?

3 simple examples from the last 3 season.

Sunderland 3-3 - McGeady comes on, 3-0 up we are, he’s a winger....but he instead of staying out wide he drifts infield creating an extra man.  It sucks in our Left Midfielder, meaning that suddenly Bryan is exposed by their right winger in continuous 1 on 1s.  Cattermole and McGeady now have 2 on 1 centrally and use that to work it out wide to the RW.   Why didn’t we drop a CF back into midfield?

West Brom 3-2 - the 4222 Webster in DM game.  Fantastic, we caught them out inside 20 mins racing to a 3-0 lead.  James Shan, the WBA caretaker manager with no managerial experiences, realises and goes to a back 3, they take control and bar the odd counter attack (Dasilva hits post) we hang on for the win.  At 3-0 the game was won, we almost lost it.

Reading 1-0 -  a subtle change from Reading second half moves Ejaria, their best player and CM to the LW.  He is too clever for Eliasson, drags him infield, leaving their LB to face up Pereira.  He knows Eliasson won’t track him and then runs off the back of him in behind Pereira as they exploit us time and time again.

I think his ego sets it up that his tactics are superior so eventually they’ll play out.  They don’t.

He is making the same mistakes as 3/4 seasons ago.

Both I would think.

Agree, think Smith and Massengo were met down massively by those around them.

Two interesting examples you highlight here- Sunderland one sticks out more to me so I remember it better. I am assuming on the 2nd highlighted bit, ie Reading game, they exploited Pereira in 2 v 1 due to Eliasson not a) Drifting inside correctly and b) Not tracking after that? I'd have to try to find some highlights if any lengthy ones online.

The Sunderland one. I'm looking back at the team and we swapped Diony for Reid HT.

Hindsight is 2020 certainly but can easily see a big imbalance even looking at the time IMO.

First half we had- have dug it out now:

              Fielding

Brownhill Flint Wright Bryan

Kent Smith Pack Paterson

           Reid Diedhiou

Game won...or so we thought! I'd forgotten Brownhill at RB that day though! 2nd and 3rd subs came far too late. That day I wasn'tr so confident about the win at HT funnily enough- I felt an air of complacency much better though we had been but that's another issue.

At halftime we take off Reid and put on Diony. Am guessing the plan was to boost the GD and maybe give Diony a goal to get him going. I see the rationale and yet...to give Reid a breather too!

Diony on Reid off. This changes it from a 4-4-1-1 or even 4-3-3 type system in certain phases to a pure 4-4-2. Diony though we didn't see enough of him to judge for sure, can't tuck in, or drop in and neither can Diedhiou- well they can but not particularly effectively! Walsh was on the bench, if we wanted to give Reid a breather he would have been an obvious switch and probably got us even more control in possession. Or we could have reverted a bit back to the setup with all those injuries and minus Diedhiou, and seen massive spaces open up on the break as the game went on to further extend things.

Hindsight is 20/20 of course but assuming we keep the plan of Reid off, what about:

Reid off, Walsh on. Then perhaps Magnússon for one of Kent or Paterson.

Now we have a bit of a hybrid of two shapes but something approaching the one in which we were at our most fluid. Perhaps Walsh could be a shuttler between supporting Diedhiou and dropping back into CM in this scenario.

              Fielding

Brownhill Flint Wright Magnússon

Kent Smith Pack Walsh Bryan

               Diedhiou

Or Diony if we want to try and spring him a bit. The substitutions and game management from HT was all wrong. In that scenario you have the stability on the left of Magnússon-Bryan axis, you have the 3 centrally which helps negate McGeady and  Cattermole and vs a desperate team who will stretch and roll the dice the more the game goes on, you have the pace of Kent and Bryan in wide areas.

Or even:

              Fielding

     Wright Flint Magnússon

Brownhill Smith Pack Walsh Bryan

                Paterson

                Diedhiou

Paterson behind Diedhiou isn't perfect but they have combinbed okay in the past- Wigan away this Jan. LJ however, he could and should have done so much better. Paterson behind Diony given the latter was billed to be quite pacy. Hell he didn't even need to do it at HT, could have done it 10-15 mins in once momentum visibly shifting! Diedhiou' might also have occupied the centre backs a bit with the focus of a lone striker- we saw him away from home be quite effective at times in this respect.

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1 hour ago, Mr Popodopolous said:

Two interesting examples you highlight here- Sunderland one sticks out more to me so I remember it better. I am assuming on the 2nd highlighted bit, ie Reading game, they exploited Pereira in 2 v 1 due to Eliasson not a) Drifting inside correctly and b) Not tracking after that? I'd have to try to find some highlights if any lengthy ones online.

The Sunderland one. I'm looking back at the team and we swapped Diony for Reid HT.

Hindsight is 2020 certainly but can easily see a big imbalance even looking at the time IMO.

First half we had- have dug it out now:

              Fielding

Brownhill Flint Wright Bryan

Kent Smith Pack Paterson

           Reid Diedhiou

Game won...or so we thought! I'd forgotten Brownhill at RB that day though! 2nd and 3rd subs came far too late. That day I wasn'tr so confident about the win at HT funnily enough- I felt an air of complacency much better though we had been but that's another issue.

At halftime we take off Reid and put on Diony. Am guessing the plan was to boost the GD and maybe give Diony a goal to get him going. I see the rationale and yet...to give Reid a breather too!

Diony on Reid off. This changes it from a 4-4-1-1 or even 4-3-3 type system in certain phases to a pure 4-4-2. Diony though we didn't see enough of him to judge for sure, can't tuck in, or drop in and neither can Diedhiou- well they can but not particularly effectively! Walsh was on the bench, if we wanted to give Reid a breather he would have been an obvious switch and probably got us even more control in possession. Or we could have reverted a bit back to the setup with all those injuries and minus Diedhiou, and seen massive spaces open up on the break as the game went on to further extend things.

Hindsight is 20/20 of course but assuming we keep the plan of Reid off, what about:

Reid off, Walsh on. Then perhaps Magnússon for one of Kent or Paterson.

Now we have a bit of a hybrid of two shapes but something approaching the one in which we were at our most fluid. Perhaps Walsh could be a shuttler between supporting Diedhiou and dropping back into CM in this scenario.

              Fielding

Brownhill Flint Wright Magnússon

Kent Smith Pack Walsh Bryan

               Diedhiou

Or Diony if we want to try and spring him a bit. The substitutions and game management from HT was all wrong. In that scenario you have the stability on the left of Magnússon-Bryan axis, you have the 3 centrally which helps negate McGeady and  Cattermole and vs a desperate team who will stretch and roll the dice the more the game goes on, you have the pace of Kent and Bryan in wide areas.

Or even:

              Fielding

     Wright Flint Magnússon

Brownhill Smith Pack Walsh Bryan

                Paterson

                Diedhiou

Paterson behind Diedhiou isn't perfect but they have combinbed okay in the past- Wigan away this Jan. LJ however, he could and should have done so much better. Paterson behind Diony given the latter was billed to be quite pacy. Hell he didn't even need to do it at HT, could have done it 10-15 mins in once momentum visibly shifting! Diedhiou' might also have occupied the centre backs a bit with the focus of a lone striker- we saw him away from home be quite effective at times in this respect.

You've used 2 incompatible statements there

" Reid off Diony on" .  

"The plan was to boost the goal difference"

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6 minutes ago, The Bard said:

You've used 2 incompatible statements there

" Reid off Diony on" .  

"The plan was to boost the goal difference"

It created vulnerabilities tactically. I'm looking at how we could have approached it differently to boost the GD- Reid he took off at HT for Diony didn't he?

Assuming Reid off. What can we do to boost stability and keep an attacking threat alive.

I believe remain somewhat compact, switch the midfield to negate McGeady and exploit ever bigger gaps in the defence that increase as they become more desperate.

Throwing on another striker, though it seems positive, can actually prove a negative in some circs.

Edited by Mr Popodopolous
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