I don’t know how many supporters noticed our three hour goal drought that spanned the Birmingham, West Brom and Yeading encounters, but in that time whilst using a 4-5-1 system we looked void of any invention in the final third – opting rather to over pass the ball around the halfway line to minimal effect and seldom worrying the opposition back four.
Craig Bellamy must surely be wondering just what he has to do to merit a starting berth in a forward position. Shola Ameobi has performed extremely well in the lone striker role, surpassing most supporters’ expectations. Our attacking options would improve dramatically however if Bellamy was restored to his favoured forward position. At present, Bellamy’s game is reduced to running at the left full back – whereas previously Bellars used to thrive upon running behind both full backs. The Welshman is our top scorer this season, surely Souness must now realise that it is imperative for our forward line to consist of Bellamy + 1.
Jenas hasn’t adapted well to the extra responsibility that comes with wearing the captain’s armband – he appears pre-occupied with sitting in front of the back four and as a result his all round game has suffered.
Bowyer, having defended him for so long, is losing my support with every game that goes by. Ironically, as his performance levels have dipped, Bowyer has in fact scored two goals in three appearances and has been unlucky with a number of other efforts. In my opinion he is fast becoming Kieron Dyer mark II – all running and no quality. His first touch is poor and distribution is often wayward. His commitment level remains outstanding and the Dyer comparison is perhaps harsh, but Bowyer squanders possession all too often – something that he can ill afford to do in a team that already accommodates for Laurent Robert’s wasteful tendencies.
Kieron Dyer has in fact shown recent glimpses of the form that saw him included in the 2002 World Cup squad. But the same problem remains – no end product. Something I have noticed about Dyer is that he intrudes upon his team-mates space. Jermaine Jenas for example doesn’t seem to play well alongside Dyer. Dyer quite often taking up positions where Jenas would usually receive the ball – the subsequent result being thirty seconds of step overs and running around in circles before a five yard pass to a full back.
Rumours of a move for Luis Boa Morte at least show that Souness is trying to address a problem that is fast becoming our main cause for concern. We need a player who can drop a shoulder and beat a man in and around the opposition penalty area – at present we are witnessing a lot of possession without an eventual killer pass, dribble or shot. Even the enigmatic Laurent Robert has become predictable and his set pieces increasingly ineffective.
With James Milner looking more like a schoolboy with every appearance and Darren Ambrose appearing to have nothing but a decent shot in his locker, we must also be looking to strengthen the right hand side of midfield. Solano is yet to be replaced and Jenas, Dyer or Bowyer are not the answer.
On six occasions in the league this season we have failed to score more than one goal at St.James. Teams that come to frustrate us are quite often successful as we have very little by means of a creative spark that can unlock a defiant defence.
How many times have you heard someone say at St.James this season that today is the day we give someone a hiding – we’re still waiting.