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We shouldn't forget that the opposition approach has a massive bearing on things. When the opposition press us hard and wide our game disintegrates, because we're not coached to play the sharp short passing triangles to play through the press. Reading didn't press us hard, whereas Wycombe did. Same result but we were allowed to play a lot more football today. At least we won't be playing Barnsley until the play-off final (if we get there), so at least we will be allowed to play football if that's what Cooper wants us to do. And that's where the big question marks are.
Well though we played, something that hasn't been acknowledged is Millwall's failure to press us high up the pitch, apart perhaps for the opening 10 minutes or so. It follows a consistent theme, when we're given the room to play we look a decent side, but when we're pressed hard our game disintegrates. It will be interesting to see what approach Wednesday adopt, and how we respond. Has Cooper learned from our previous struggles? Only time will tell.
What would we say about a team, let's say Cardiff, that only created two good opportunities to score from long throws into the box? One of Connor's throw ins resulted in Ayew's penalty and the other, from the left side, should have been a penalty for a clear handball.
The Blackburn goal came from a very poor decision from Woodman to try and loft a pass into Grimes in a central area 30 metres out, even though he had a man on him. This was a worse error than the ball going through his legs, which can happen with shots at close quarters. I wonder if he needs to be dropped, because he got away with a worse error at the start of the second half, being caught in no-man's land, which Blackburn should have taken.
Although there's clearly a need for fresh legs and minds I think the biggest issue here is Cooper's tactical approach. Any opposition manager now knows that all you have to do is to close the space out wide and we will be nuetered as an attacking threat. Connor, apart from the long throws, contributed very little as a consequence. The Derby game was probably the last game where he was nullified to as great an extent.
If there was a perfect illustration of how limited our game plan is it came in the first half where Cabango had the ball in the centre circle with plenty of time to weigh up his options. Unsurprisingly he went for the long diagonal ball, which came to nothing. I don't blame Cabango, because he didn't have an option immediately in front of him, and judging by our overall pattern of play, he's clearly been instructed to play like that. We don't even try to adance play through the middle under Cooper, which makes us such a painful watch. I don't think he will change though, because he will think that the ends (in terms of points) justify the means. I think it will take another thumping for Cooper to re-consider his approach.
The hoof it down the flanks approach to our offensive play (and it certainly was offensive) returned with a vengance tonight, only this time a spawny late penalty didn't happen to gloss over another dismal display. What exactly does Cooper have against playing through the thirds?
When we started with four in midfield, and just Ayew up top, against Boro, I wondered if Cooper had finally seen the light, but even in that game we resorted to thirty metre passes out of defence which were either lost or fired straight back to the defence by Ayew et al. What sort of way is that to build an attack?
We are as clueless offensively as we are good defensively. If we're going to win promotion we're going to have to be bolder on the ball, especially with our defence showing signs of wear and tear, physically and mentally.