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[Albion] A myriad of issues: Structure? Manager? Players? Inexperience? A 52-year supporter's view

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TSB

Captain Hindsight
Jul 7, 2003
17,666
Lansdowne Place, Hove
Hello. Been a while. Hope all are well.

Here to deliver a message:

Cards on the table – I thought it was a huge mistake when Chris Hughton was sacked and nothing I have seen in the last 18 months has persuaded me otherwise. Had he been replaced by, say, Rafa Benitez, I would have got that – an upgrade. But to replace our best-ever manager (Alan Mullery might argue) with a bloke from Sweden – had our experience with players from second-rate European leagues taught us nothing? – with one good-in-the-circumstances but not spectacular season in the Championship, well, it looked risky, to say the least. I wanted Graham Potter to do well but there has been a series of failings, not all of them necessarily down to him – it’s hard to know who is pulling the strings these days. I would say the charge sheet looks like this:

Management structure
This may be generational but it used to be common, when an inexperienced manager was appointed, to appoint an experienced assistant. Lennie Lawrence performed this role for several clubs, Arthur Cox was Keegan’s assistant at Newcastle, our very own Brian Horton was an assistant many times, notably to Phil Brown when Hull were briefly successful in the Premier League. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Our management team, including the Blessed Bruno, are all inexperienced (excluding the specialist, Ben Roberts). I share the fear expressed elsewhere that the coaches are little more than bag and cone carriers, unlikely to question anything the Head Coach does. Do you remember that Sami Hyypia’s assistant was intended to be the experienced Sammy Lee. Would Hyypia have been successful had Lee not changed his mind? No, you’re probably right but his chances would have improved. We saw the value of experience in 2014, why not in 2019? In 1982 we sacked Mike Bailey, who had taken us to our highest-ever league position, because his style of play was boring (ring any bells?). He was replaced by a clown, leading to an unnecessary relegation and, broadly, nearly 20 years of decline before Micky took the club by the scruff of the neck. I’m not saying Potter is a clown – far from it, on any level – but history has a habit of repeating itself, even if only at a reduced level.

Composition of the squad
The squad that took us up and kept us up for two seasons was full of experienced (that word again) characters – Stocko, Bruno, Shane, Liam, Siddy, Beram, Sam, Glenn, Anthony. You imagine that in that dressing room when some of those spoke, the others listened. We as fans felt, rightly or wrongly, that they loved playing for the Albion. Now – who listens when Leandro Trossard speaks, or Solly, or even Lewis? Does Trossard look like he loves playing for the Albion? Not to me he doesn’t. I suspect the only one who commands true respect is Adam Lallana and one is not enough. All the players with character have gone – several intentionally shipped out: Anthony, Shane, Florin, Glenn – apparently, in three of those cases, because they were deemed too difficult to manage. (As an aside, Chris Hughton seemed to manage them pretty well). Either they don’t fit into Potter’s management theories or, probably more likely, Ashworth has decided to create the same bland set-up as he did with England. Who knows? But in my opinion, lack of character (and, of course, experience) is to the detriment of the squad.

Coaching
We are told regularly that Graham Potter’s main job is to improve the players he has. How is he doing on that front? How many players have noticeably improved since he took over? Alzate maybe, but most of us had never seen him before, Bissouma possibly, Solly has been OK so far this season but it’s early days to judge. Apart from them, there’s…? Lamptey, you say, but he seems to have arrived fully-formed. I honestly can’t think of anyone who is performing consistently better now than he was in August 2019. I would argue that several have declined in form since first playing for Potter – Maupay, Connolly, Propper, Gross. Several more are, at best, no better than at the start of last season –Trossard, Webster, Jahanbakhsh. Others have either reached their level of reasonable competence (Burn) or were clearly not ready and still aren’t (Connolly again, Mac Allister). So is the Head Coach doing his main job well? Let’s compare our squad to, say, Southampton’s. I would say that Southampton’s squad is better than ours but not so much better that they should be sitting near the top of the league whilst we flounder amongst the also-rans. How come? Could it be that they have a more experienced (again) manager who is a better coach and who gets more out of his players than our man does? You decide.

Team selection
Well, you say, he must be doing something right because we finished last season with a record
Premier League points tally. Sure, if you include the meaningless last day win, we did – I think the 40 points, all gained in anger in front of spectators, in 2017/18 were more valuable. We stayed up last season, essentially, because of lockdown and largely the win against Arsenal in the weirdness of the first empty stadium game. Would we have stayed up had lockdown not happened? With the run we were on it would have been very tight but credit to Potter – we got our act together better than many in the three month break (maybe we need a similar reset now). But, really, do you think his team selection is a strength? It’s not about picking the best 11 players (clearly), it’s about the team. But what team’s that, then? There are changes of personnel, formation, positions within the game every week. Are our players good enough to handle this? The West Brom 2nd half when goodness knows how many were playing out of position suggests not. Who are our best players currently? Lamptey, Lallana and Bissouma get my vote. So Lamptey ends up right midfield on occasions, Lallana is sometimes part of a midfield two, sometimes wide, sometimes a 10, Bissouma is used as a defensive midfield player quite often. They are good players, they can just about cope, though they often aren’t being utilised in a way that makes the most of their talents. What about the others? No chance, completely out of their depth (Trossard leading the attack – you are joking). My abiding memory of the Potter era is the 2 nd half of the debacle at Bournemouth and Dale Stephens floundering around for 20 minutes at right back before being restored to some sort of midfield position. An interesting experiment in an end of season League 1 game, a tiny bit bizarre in a Premier League six pointer at 2 nil down. And don’t get me started on the goalkeepers – are the two places decided by a game of musical chairs? How does that help anyone’s confidence, including a defence lacking the captain and lynchpin?

Others have commented on tactical failings. I don’t feel qualified to comment but the set piece failings at both ends are glaring – largely, it seems to me, because almost everyone over six feet tall has been weeded out in a strange heightist purge, leading, apparently, to the hugely successful zonal marking defensive system. It’s probably on p116 of the FA Coaching Manual, just before the chapter called Style Over Substance.
It gives me no pleasure to criticise the club or the management. I have supported the Albion for 52 years and I always will. I want Graham Potter to succeed because that will make me happy. I don’t want him to be sacked. I hope he proves me wrong on all counts. When club, fans and players are all moving in the same direction, there’s no better feeling. 2016/17 was one of the happiest times in my life but we’re a long way from that currently (and not just because of lockdown).

I hope it works out well. But the signs aren’t good. Just saying.
 
Last edited:




Live by the sea

Members
Oct 21, 2016
3,288
I would say the football we are playing at the moment is the best it’s been probably ever certainly technically. We do need to take more of the opportunities we create but I think we will with a fully fit welbeck .
 

Coldeanseagull

Opinionated
Mar 13, 2013
5,975
Coldean
It's one persons view on things, nothing more. Doesn't have to be ridiculed, or heralded as gospel.
At least the OP can now take comfort in the fact the object of their affections is once again plying their trade at forest, where I wish him good luck.
A change was needed, as the football had become stagnant and whilst results have not taken the premier league by storm, the football certainly is far, far more entertaining. Our house is in order, so the long term is looking rosy.

I can't really be bothered to type any more.
 

The Wookiee

Back From The Dead
Nov 10, 2003
14,397
Worthing
Hello. Been a while. Hope all are well.

Here to deliver a message:

Cards on the table – I thought it was a huge mistake when Chris Hughton was sacked and nothing I have seen in the last 18 months has persuaded me otherwise. Had he been replaced by, say, Rafa Benitez, I would have got that – an upgrade. But to replace our best-ever manager (Alan Mullery might argue) with a bloke from Sweden – had our experience with players from second-rate European leagues taught us nothing? – with one good-in-the-circumstances but not spectacular season in the Championship, well, it looked risky, to say the least. I wanted Graham Potter to do well but there has been a series of failings, not all of them necessarily down to him – it’s hard to know who is pulling the strings these days. I would say the charge sheet looks like this:

Management structure
This may be generational but it used to be common, when an inexperienced manager was appointed, to appoint an experienced assistant. Lennie Lawrence performed this role for several clubs, Arthur Cox was Keegan’s assistant at Newcastle, our very own Brian Horton was an assistant many times, notably to Phil Brown when Hull were briefly successful in the Premier League. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Our management team, including the Blessed Bruno, are all inexperienced (excluding the specialist, Ben Roberts). I share the fear expressed elsewhere that the coaches are little more than bag and cone carriers, unlikely to question anything the Head Coach does. Do you remember that Sami Hyypia’s assistant was intended to be the experienced Sammy Lee. Would Hyypia have been successful had Lee not changed his mind? No, you’re probably right but his chances would have improved. We saw the value of experience in 2014, why not in 2019? In 1982 we sacked Mike Bailey, who had taken us to our highest-ever league position, because his style of play was boring (ring any bells?). He was replaced by a clown, leading to an unnecessary relegation and, broadly, nearly 20 years of decline before Micky took the club by the scruff of the neck. I’m not saying Potter is a clown – far from it, on any level – but history has a habit of repeating itself, even if only at a reduced level.

Composition of the squad
The squad that took us up and kept us up for two seasons was full of experienced (that word again) characters – Stocko, Bruno, Shane, Liam, Siddy, Beram, Sam, Glenn, Anthony. You imagine that in that dressing room when some of those spoke, the others listened. We as fans felt, rightly or wrongly, that they loved playing for the Albion. Now – who listens when Leandro Trossard speaks, or Solly, or even Lewis? Does Trossard look like he loves playing for the Albion? Not to me he doesn’t. I suspect the only one who commands true respect is Adam Lallana and one is not enough. All the players with character have gone – several intentionally shipped out: Anthony, Shane, Florin, Glenn – apparently, in three of those cases, because they were deemed too difficult to manage. (As an aside, Chris Hughton seemed to manage them pretty well). Either they don’t fit into Potter’s management theories or, probably more likely, Ashworth has decided to create the same bland set-up as he did with England. Who knows? But in my opinion, lack of character (and, of course, experience) is to the detriment of the squad.

Coaching
We are told regularly that Graham Potter’s main job is to improve the players he has. How is he doing on that front? How many players have noticeably improved since he took over? Alzate maybe, but most of us had never seen him before, Bissouma possibly, Solly has been OK so far this season but it’s early days to judge. Apart from them, there’s…? Lamptey, you say, but he seems to have arrived fully-formed. I honestly can’t think of anyone who is performing consistently better now than he was in August 2019. I would argue that several have declined in form since first playing for Potter – Maupay, Connolly, Propper, Gross. Several more are, at best, no better than at the start of last season –Trossard, Webster, Jahanbakhsh. Others have either reached their level of reasonable competence (Burn) or were clearly not ready and still aren’t (Connolly again, Mac Allister). So is the Head Coach doing his main job well? Let’s compare our squad to, say, Southampton’s. I would say that Southampton’s squad is better than ours but not so much better that they should be sitting near the top of the league whilst we flounder amongst the also-rans. How come? Could it be that they have a more experienced (again) manager who is a better coach and who gets more out of his players than our man does? You decide.

Team selection
Well, you say, he must be doing something right because we finished last season with a record
Premier League points tally. Sure, if you include the meaningless last day win, we did – I think the 40 points, all gained in anger in front of spectators, in 2017/18 were more valuable. We stayed up last season, essentially, because of lockdown and largely the win against Arsenal in the weirdness of the first empty stadium game. Would we have stayed up had lockdown not happened? With the run we were on it would have been very tight but credit to Potter – we got our act together better than many in the three month break (maybe we need a similar reset now). But, really, do you think his team selection is a strength? It’s not about picking the best 11 players (clearly), it’s about the team. But what team’s that, then? There are changes of personnel, formation, positions within the game every week. Are our players good enough to handle this? The West Brom 2nd half when goodness knows how many were playing out of position suggests not. Who are our best players currently? Lamptey, Lallana and Bissouma get my vote. So Lamptey ends up right midfield on occasions, Lallana is sometimes part of a midfield two, sometimes wide, sometimes a 10, Bissouma is used as a defensive midfield player quite often. They are good players, they can just about cope, though they often aren’t being utilised in a way that makes the most of their talents. What about the others? No chance, completely out of their depth (Trossard leading the attack – you are joking). My abiding memory of the Potter era is the 2 nd half of the debacle at Bournemouth and Dale Stephens floundering around for 20 minutes at right back before being restored to some sort of midfield position. An interesting experiment in an end of season League 1 game, a tiny bit bizarre in a Premier League six pointer at 2 nil down. And don’t get me started on the goalkeepers – are the two places decided by a game of musical chairs? How does that help anyone’s confidence, including a defence lacking the captain and lynchpin?

Others have commented on tactical failings. I don’t feel qualified to comment but the set piece failings at both ends are glaring – largely, it seems to me, because almost everyone over six feet tall has been weeded out in a strange heightist purge, leading, apparently, to the hugely successful zonal marking defensive system. It’s probably on p116 of the FA Coaching Manual, just before the chapter called Style Over Substance.
It gives me no pleasure to criticise the club or the management. I have supported the Albion for 52 years and I always will. I want Graham Potter to succeed because that will make me happy. I don’t want him to be sacked. I hope he proves me wrong on all counts. When club, fans and players are all moving in the same direction, there’s no better feeling. 2016/17 was one of the happiest times in my life but we’re a long way from that currently (and not just because of lockdown).

I hope it works out well. But the signs aren’t good. Just saying.

Signs aren’t good ??

The signs were considerably worse in Hughtons last season !
I reckon we have had more shots at goal so far this season than we did in the whole of Hughtons last season.
Yes we are naive at times but I’m far more optimistic with the way Potter has got us playing than the way Hughton had us playing.

Of course it’s frustrating we aren’t converting our chances, but at least we are creating them again something we didn’t do much under Hughton in the Premier league.
 


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