REPORT: Derby 5 City 0

SlutskyPensive

I hate football. Again.

A trip to Derby on the telly looked likely to be a solid test of the newly assembled City squad and when asked before the game I predicted a narrow defeat on that basis. Not in my worst nightmares did I foresee the sort of capitulation we made a habit of this time last year.

There wasn’t a player who had a good night and the same goes for the manager. He chose to change the 3-4-3 formation that worked so well against Bolton and left David Meyler out of the midfield for Markus Henriksen. Unless Meyler was literally seconds from death, this was the wrong decision.

City 4-2-3-1
McGregor
Aina – Dawson – Hector – Kingsley
Larsson – Henriksen
Bowen – Toral – Grosicki
Dicko

If you’re thinking that midfield looks too soft for an away game in the Championship, you’re absolutely right. Derby’s fans have been downhearted at their start to the season and lack of transfer activity but on paper, they look a decent side. They’ve experience at the back with Davies and Keogh, quality in midfield in Huddlestone and Johnson and pace and flair up front and out wide from the likes of Wiemann, Lawrence and Vydra.

City started well and for the first half an hour there was no sign of the horror that was about to unfold. With both sides feeling each other out, we passed the ball around confidently, made the pitch wide and started to assert ourselves on the game, forcing a couple of corners and winning the second balls around the box. Then Henriksen gifted them possession in our half on 15, Aina fouled clumsily and Vydra stepped up to hit a free kick that we knew would go in two minutes before he hit it because McGregor doesn’t save free kicks [1-0]. It was shambolic all round but McGregor’s habit of guessing the wrong way was decisive.

The goal didn’t deter City and we continued to dominate possession but without hurting Derby. Grosicki wandered around looking for the ball rather than staying wide and Dicko had as little effect as Diomande does around the box. From nowhere on 25 mins, Lawrence pulled down Aina at the back post as he tried to meet Grosicki’s cross and City were awarded a penalty. Seb Larsson stepped up to take it and, unforgivably, chipped it over the bar. It was a dreadful effort and the start of a complete collapse. Henriksen jogged around hopefully and passed to them as often as us. Larsson’s impression of Tom Huddlestone was passable against a poor Bolton side but utterly ineffective here. Jon Toral was also in midfield, in theory.

Derby went further in front through a nicely worked goal from their point of view but another hideous one from ours. Hector took himself out of the game, Nugent ran in behind Dawson with Kingsley struggling to cover and laid the ball off for Vydra to smash home untroubled by our midfield [2-0]. Worryingly, it got much worse before half time. Curtis Davies headed in from a right-wing corner after finding himself completely unmarked on the six yard line [3-0]. McGregor made a decent save at his near post and as the resulting corner was recycled, they crossed again from their right and Johnson arrived at the back post to tap in [4-0]. We didn’t stop crosses, didn’t mark properly and didn’t track runners. We’d gone. Shoulders slumped. Faces blank. The absence of anyone with the gumption to tell the rest that they’re a f****** shower of s**** another worry.

The second half was barely worth reporting on. Bowen headed wide after a nice run took him onto Hector’s cross, Grosicki shot wide from close range with his left foot and Meyler curled just over amongst other City chances but Derby rarely looked flustered. Perhaps because they went five up near the hour when Hector twisted, turned, flicked the ball up in the air and eventually smacked it straight down the centre of the pitch where Johnson pounced on it and passed the ball into the bottom corner with his left foot [5-0]. Shocking defending from a player who has started the season brightly but looked way out of his depth against quality opposition.

Slutsky’s decision to wait 66 minutes before attempting to make a substitution was baffling. Irvine, Diomande and Meyler replaced Toral, Dicko and Grosicki in quick succession and Irvine and Meyler will go down as by far our best players on the night. How Henriksen and Larsson evaded the hook is beyond me. I’m getting close to writing Henriksen off. We’ve waited for him to settle and waited through injuries. Now the opposition are worse than last season and he still looks inept.

I don’t think this game told us anything we don’t already know but it did hammer home just how far this squad has to go. We know it’s been cobbled together far too late and needs time to gel. There is a lack of leadership and know-how. Of the few experienced players we’ve got, too many go missing when the going gets tough and always have.

It’s not all gloomy – we know there is talent in the squad. Even on a terrible night we had the majority of the possession and 18 shots on goal. The game reminded me of the 4-1 defeat at Leeds under Nigel Pearson. With the ball, we looked superior that night, but were punished for mistakes and wasted chances. We grew as a team that season and I think we will this season. We’re not a promotion challenging team though. Nowhere near.

The fans were outstanding. The game just got in the way. I hate football.

Rick Skelton (via Tiger Chat)

8 replies
  1. Blackadder
    Blackadder says:

    Just proves how bad Burton and Bolton were, they are probably going down and we won’t be far off playing like this. Letting Huddlestone and Davies go was a massive blunder and it’s obvious that Dawson’s legs have gone, he’s been a top class player but age is catching up with him. Larsson is also way past his sell by date. Henriksen is ineffectual in midfield as is Toral, and Grosicki is a luxury player, just like Mo Diame he can be a match winner but won’t do the hard work that’s required. If any changes were made before kick off it should have been Meyler and Irvine in midfield and they have to play next time. At least Meyler can take and score penalties!

    Let’s hope this was a one off anomaly and move on, there’s another hard game coming up at Fulham and we need to start getting something from away games but Slutsky has to recognize what his best team is and stick to it.

  2. Jimmy Weekly
    Jimmy Weekly says:

    Just about the only thing to make me smile from this crap performance and result was Slutsky’s statement after the match that as they say in Russia, better one 5-0 defeat than five 1-0 defeats. So let’s win the next 4, Leonid.

  3. Blackadder
    Blackadder says:

    McGregor has taken some stick for conceding 5 goals but the last four were from shambolic schoolboy defending and he was given no protection. The first goal from the free kick was a carbon copy of the one Santi Cazorla scored for Arsenal in the Wembley FA Cup Final. It was from almost the same position and McGregor took a step to his right just before the ball was hit to his left, just as he did at Wembley, he has to wait until the ball is kicked instead of wrong footing himself.

  4. Ambertigerfan
    Ambertigerfan says:

    Slutsky got the team selection badly wrong. The midfield needs some backbone: Meyler and Irvine. Henriksen is spineless. Why drop Diomande after he played well in the last game? Dicko should have been used as a sub to blend him in gradually. Hector should have blasted the ball out for a throw in instead of his tippy tappy routine that yielded yet another goal for Derby.

    “Turbo” Grosicki reverted to being rubbish since the transfer window closed. How predictable was that?

    Agreed Blackadder, when I saw the highlights McGregor did his FA Cup final trick again. Why does he move to his right and then deprive himself of the necessary reach to his left? Is it some bad nervous habit? McGregor should never have even played in the final, he didn’t participate in the run to the final!

  5. Officer Crabtree
    Officer Crabtree says:

    The free-kick was saveable but beyond that I’m not sure McGregor was that badly at fault. Larsson was. That was as poor a penalty I’ve seen by a City player in a long time. The defence looked poor all round too. Sadly, in our defensive shambles of the past few years, the common denominator appears to be Michael Dawson. That may sound a bit harsh to some – it’s not his fault that Aina can’t defend or that Henricksen can’t, well… where do you start? – but he isn’t the player he once was. We’re not going to go down. We’re not going to go up.

  6. gjhdurham
    gjhdurham says:

    Saw the team selection…knew we’d lose! Down to you, Slut! Plain and simple. Phelanesque selections playing with your new toys? Meyler punished for tweeting?

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