I’m trying to work out why 24 hours after a calamitous draw with Wolves, I still feel more devastated than at any other time this season. I’m even more upset than after the 8-2 debacle at Old Trafford because at least I knew that result would wake the board up. And even when we lost to Tottenham we’d played quite well and I took consolation from the fact that they didn’t look much better than us, even on their own patch.
But yesterday we blew a huge chance to climb back into the top four. A chance to stick four or five past a hapless side who hadn’t got a point away from home since August and show the rest of the league that we were back. Yet we couldn’t take advantage of the slip-ups by Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool the day before and that’s just criminal.
Yes their keeper played well, yes we should have had a penalty and yes, their goal was extremely lucky. But the game should’ve been dead and buried long before Hennessy did his best Gordon Banks impression and that it wasn’t was down to one thing. Something that has been a chink in our armour for a long time and which needs sorting immediately.
At 1-0 after only eight minutes the game was already won in the minds of the players. We continued to push forward and make chances, but the focus and determination to score the killer second wasn’t there. As each opportunity went begging you could almost hear the thoughts of the players: “Oooh, that was a good chance. Never mind, we’re winning anyway. The second goal will come along soon, we’re much better than Wolves.”
Man United don’t think like that. They score one and then they chase a second with the same intensity as if it was still 0-0. Then they do the same until they have a third, and a fourth and so on. That’s why they’re champions and is the reason they’ve won their last two matches 5-0 despite carrying even more injuries than us.
We, on the other hand, take the lead against Villa before complacency sets in and allows them an equaliser. Then we do the exact same thing against Wolves — score a goal and get the deckchairs out.
You know it’s becoming a big problem if Wenger takes to criticising his precious players about it in the media. Clearly annoyed, he said:
“At the moment what we have to learn is that when we are 1-0 up in some departments we cannot be too comfortable. We were caught in a position where we can only blame ourselves.”
Alan Shearer breathes a little easier
That’s a very nice way of putting it Arsene. I hope in the dressing room you were more forceful than that so that the message gets through their thick skulls because this can’t keep happening.
A few hours later my mood was worsened by watching Spurs completely dominate Norwich. At a ground where we scraped a 2-1 win a few weeks ago, Spurs took the game by the throat from minute one and didn’t let go until the final whistle. After they made the breakthrough they continued to look dangerous and could’ve scored five, not giving Norwich a sniff of a comeback at the other end.
They showed how to put down and keep down an inferior side.
I hope our players were watching because — though it pains me to say it — they could learn a thing or two about professionalism from Harry’s mob at the moment. And I think that’s why I’m still in such a bad mood…
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