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2017/18 The Post Mortem Part 3
Friday, 15th Jun 2018 10:25

In the third part we take a look at bad luck, lapses in concentration, late goals and poor refereeing decisions in a season that had more than their fair share.

Fairly early in last season I had a strange feeling that fate was conspiring against us, often in football you don't just need to be a good manager you need to be a lucky one, certain incidents change seasons, change careers even and the season just gone certainly had plenty of those.

Lapses in concentration were aplenty, you can be the best manager in the world, but f your players continually keep having lapses then you aren't going to get anywhere.

This season was full of those lapses from early on and they just kept coming, even right at the end when Ryan Bertrand at Everton inexplicably failed to put the ball into row Z but hacked it tamely up the wing which ended with yet another late goal against us, in fact that one incident had everything that I mentioned above in it, lapse in concentration, late goal, poor refereeing decision and plain bad luck.

But this was just the icing on the cake, literally from the moment we let Stoke score in the final minute back back in September they just kept coming at a rate that I can't ever remember at this club or indeed anywhere.

Late Goals that cost us points
Stoke a, Man City a, Arsenal H, Everton a, Man City h

Lapses In Concentration
Man Utd h, Brighton a, Burnley h, Bournemouth a, Chelsea a, Huddersfield h, Palace h, Chelsea h

Bad Refereeing.
Watford a

These are just the ones I can remember and the list is far from exhaustible given that I have only looked at games where the goal changed the result and haven't considered some of those like Leicester at home or West Ham and Newcastle away when they capitalised more than once, and I have only mentioned the game once, ie Watford for poor refereeing, not for the last minute or lapses in concentration, indeed we could also throw in bad luck due to the referee and linesman not visiting Specsavers more often.

But just look at the last minute goals alone, they cost us 7 points alone, lapses in concentration where we gave them soft goals cost us 11 points and that is only accounting for one goal, we really should have beaten both Chelsea and Palace at home.

Bad refereeing wasn't as bad as it could have been, indeed I have only put Watford away as an example here, but it could equally be included in both Everton away and Chelsea at home, but that Watford game was perhaps a turning point in the season, it had all three major issues in it and if we had held on then it could have changed the course of the next few months, the extra two points would have put us withing striking distance of 10th place and might have given us the confidence that we so badly lacked.

After that you sensed that we were a team devoid of confidence and lacking in self belief , the team like the fans started to believe that fate was against us.

The players have to bear most of the responsibility here, yes of course the it was the manager picking the team, but what can a manager do when a player makes a schoolboy error, it doesn't make him a bad manager on it's own.

At one time it was almost a pleasure to see a decent goal scored against us, so many should really not have happened and cost us dearly, how many times at home did we dominate play only to present them with a free chance, virtually their only one of the game that they took with gratitude.

How many times did we see our defenders put in impeccable performances only to ruin in with 30 seconds lacking in concentration ?

So all of these reasons in one respect were not the root cause of our terrible season, but in contrast they also could have been, that is probably the story of the season starting to unravel now, in essence we really should have not struggled, we had the squad, but it was poorly managed, prone to mistakes and had no luck at all.

It is not the only reason for our woes, a big one yes, indeed a few more points earlier in the season and we would have sat comfortably in mid table, but the real reason lies far deeper and these things happened because of issues in other areas not vice versa.

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Wembley76 added 10:40 - Jun 15
The season in a nutshell 😩
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Consigliere added 13:46 - Jun 15
I hope it was merely a coincidence that a (well-written and largely accurate) article about errors and lapses of concentration featured a scene with Yoshida in the picture at the top.
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BoondockSaint added 14:32 - Jun 15
Nic, again you blame all our failures on our defenders turning a win into a draw and a draw into a loss- and I agree they are certainly not without blame
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However, what about games where we just needed to score one goal to turn a draw into a win or a loss into a draw? That came down to the lack of quality strikers and the failure of the board to address that issue for the last two years. Not to mention the negative tactics of the managers over the same time period.

It is important to note that a lot of these late goals came when Pellegrino would channel his inner Puel and take off our attackers as soon as we scored a goal with loads of time remaining, letting the other teams come at us wave upon wave so sooner or later our defenders would tire or make a mistake.

We had a pretty good goal differential (that helped save us) in spite of all the blunders you list. If we could have scored just 10 more goals during the season, we would have been mid-table and be having a completely different discussion....like how Yoshi cost us Champions League.
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aceofthebase added 14:59 - Jun 15
What about those goals that came from Cedric's inability with crosses to his post.
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davepid added 17:12 - Jun 15
Good article. Just to broaden the late goals stat, I was struck by the number of times we gave away a winning position by nervously playing deeper and deeper giving the opposition plenty of space to build an attack from. It was so obvious game after game and I don’t understand why the manager didn’t deal with it.


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aceofthebase added 09:13 - Jun 16
davepid good point but I don't understand why the players didn't deal with it, they are not brainless automatons. A manager can only flap his hands and holler on the touchline
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halftimeorange added 13:44 - Jun 16
Imo, we played deeper simply because we had no powerful forward to receive passes and hold onto the ball. When we did have the opportunity to go forward in the second half the attacks invariably petered out and when pressed by the opposition we ran backwards, creating our own problems. There were countless times when I groaned because our lightweight attack slowed the game wondering what to do with the ball. Having no Lambert or Pelle was a principal reason why we failed to last the pace and dropped late points.
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underweststand added 17:01 - Jun 18
A good analysis of last seasons defensive errors, but as i was reminded many years ago, you only need to beat the opposition by one goal - and sadly our strike force -just weren't out in force. (sorry for the pun).

Two stats. stand out in my mind.....
(1) we had the most shots/chances of any Prem.side outside of the top 6.
(2) I lost count (after someone quoted) that we had hit the woodwork 13 times (!)

Aside from the obvious defensive laspses (you listed) it has to be said that Messers;
Boufal, Redmond, Long, Carrillo (and to a lesser extent) Austin and Gabbiadini failed miserably. Thats' something close to £70 million in transfer fees giving us little reward.

Only Tadic acqitted himself somewhat better, at least he gave a few assists but he tended to blow hot and cold throughout the season.

The real truth is that goals win games, and there were more than enough chances that went begging that would have comfortably given us a mid-table/ top half finish instead of all those missed chances and heart-stopping final games of the season.

Yes the defence was unbalanced / unsettled after the departures of Fonte and VvD, but I'd put most blame on our lack of goals scored as the main fault for a very poor season.


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