The injury to Moses was always likely to be the one that we noticed the most. I could not, and many other fans could not understand why we did not sign a right-back.
Saturday’s ‘game’ away at Bournemouth was the first that I had been able to watch in full since the Swansea away game. I didn’t recognise us at first, playing in PURPLE, for a good 10 seconds I thought, “eh up, we are up for this”. Then I realised that the colours on the dodgy link were actually accurate, it was red and black stripes I was looking at. And then we were 1-0 down.
I never had a good feeling about the game, I was going to back a 2-0 defeat. But the more I thought about it, the more I started considering, 3-0, 4-0, 4-1, etc.
And the more I watched, the more this became the reality.
Despite Marshall being at fault for the first goal, having watched most of the game in sobriety, I do feel that the major deficit was not playing a right-back at right-back.
Elmo, for all his slowly withering credentials, is not a right-back. Do I recall correctly that it was Rooney that skinned him to set up the winner against Man Utd? He has certainly cost us points in previous Premier League campaigns. And up against the excellent, Jordan Ibe, he was completely out-flanked, absolutely the junior to the junior.
In rare possession, he tended to look composed and durable. But time after time he was on the losing end against Ibe. And if Bournemouth have figured out our weak point – others will too.
Don’t get me wrong – many others were complicit in this abject defeat. Particularly the Allams, but also Snodgrass, Marshall and the whole of the defence (Davies for England? I’m glad I never got around to writing that post) should be singled out for criticism over bad mistakes, and often non-existent marking.
So how do we fix it?
This right-back problem has to be the top priority for me. We could give Brian Lenihan an opportunity. It’s a risk – I’ve never seen him play but its better than playing players uncomfortably out of position – Elmo will never be a right-back.
Personally I would go 3-5-2. We have 3 fit central defenders. We can play Elmo and Robertson/Clucas as defensive-minded wingbacks, stick Meyler in defensive midfield, and try to grind out a draw, or a 1-0 against Stoke.
We are still outside the relegation zone. We have won two games. We have a reasonable record at home. This abhorrent defeat does not need to define our season.
I do fancy us to beat Stoke. We are just short of 2-1 to win which is decent odds at home.