Borussia Moenchengladbach 1
It’s never been away with me but slowly but surely football creeps its way back into the nation’s consciousness. It’s still the end of July beginning of August and there’s athletics and the first test against Pakistan however in between all this we see the Emirates Cup and a more and more friendlies, such as yesterdays game, beginning to get their foot in the door? Nonetheless normality hasn’t quiet been restored, you still have to turn more than one page in the Sunday papers sports section to find the football news!
For us yesterday it was Borussia Moenchengladbach, great name! The opening line up was a reaction to Thursday’s win no less than ten of the starting line up being rested giving HRH the opportunity to play some of the more experienced players i.e. Gerrard, Cole, Johnson and Carragher. However, there was also a liberal smattering of youth Dallo Vallo, Shelvay, Ince, Eccleston and Ayala. Perhaps most surprising was the inclusion of Insua which suggests his transfer is far from concluded?
The atmosphere in what seemed to be a full stadium, and the reaction of both sets of fans to each other, reflected the relationship between the two clubs. Borussia Moenchengladbach who, I will now refer to as BM as it is such along name, will always have a major part in our history as we beat them to win our first European trophy (The UEFA Cup in 1973) and then of course to win the first of five?
Sigh is nothing scared? BM were in all white! What happened to the Puma kit they played in the seventies with bits of green trim? Nonetheless it didn’t really matter to them as after only seven minutes or so they opened the scoring with a very poor goal from our point of view.
Cavalieri picked up Carragher’s back pass and then fed it put to Ayala who was pounced upon by Karim Matmour who in turn made the most of our generosity. A poor, sloppy goal which in two weeks time would never have happened simply because, hopefully minds and concentration would be more attuned?
Who was at fault? Cavalieri, for passing to Ayala on the edge of the six yard area? Ayala for poor control, probably down to surprise for receiving the ball? I’m siding with Ayala as Cavalieri could see the entire pitch and if he was in any doubt then it should been punted up the field or into Row Z? Overall it would be true but cruel to say “never mind” as neither player will start in two weeks time against Arsenal but it is basic stuff even though it’s still a friendly? Time to sharpen up guys, it gets serious soon? .
BM responded to the goal by taking the game to us exploiting our disjointedness in midfield and in defence. However one has to take into account that our side, with every pre season game, has been different? Clearly this poses a problem to those of us on the outside who are desperately trying to gain some indicator as to how we might do when things get serious? These games are important if only to try out new players in a more demanding environment and of course testing new formations. However the side that starts against Arsenal in two weeks time will probably bare no relation to last nights line up and may not have played together for one pre season game, if at all. Granted most of the games have involved players who probably won’t start so it is clearly a good opportunity see them play and see them gain more experience but as guide as to how we might do you might as well, as you aren’t close the to the team, toss a coin? As HRH said
“I am seeing improvements in some individual players but we haven’t really had the chance to work together as a team as yet. I don’t even think we’re going to be together as a team as I would like us to be on August 15 as we are still reintegrating players”
Other issues besides saying that HRH took the opportunity to make as many subs as possible and than it was another good work out? Well Joe Cole had a decent debut. It was nothing to knock you off your perch but he was confident enough doing the obvious things well. He also showed encouraging signs a productive link up with Gerrard, not least just after half tie when he might have scored after latching on to his captains back flick, and then a long range effort which caused the keeper to spill it. A good start given that that presumably the main priority is simply getting used to a new club and all that encompasses?
Although I’ve been positive about HRH the overriding factor in our pre season friendlies has been inertia/sedateness. Perhaps we should look at Arsenal who at the same time were upping their preparations via the Emirates Cup in front of their home fans. Aside from Thursday we’ve seen no goals, perhaps it is time to up the anti and instil a degree of competition? Time to enter a pre season tournament next time?
Finally if ever anyone was wondering about our youth policy perhaps we should take encouragement from the substitution of Jonjo Shelvey after 83 minutes. His replacement? Raheem Sterling aged 15 years. It’s frightening! I’m just old enough to be his grandfather!