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Vital Verdict – AFCB v Middlesbrough

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Written by kirsikka

AFC Bournemouth head coach Scott Parker made a bold choice. Jones being the dangerman for Boro, he decided Smith would be a safer option at left-back than Brady. It was a big call to make. If he felt he needed extra defensive cover on that side then you would have thought the industry of Anthony would have been the obvious choice in front of Smith but he played a wildcard in sticking Cantwell out there.

There was a real lack of intensity to the whole match. It was like a game between two sides already on the beach as they had nothing left to play for. When you consider where both clubs are, it was pretty baffling.

Allied to that was some shocking quality. Simple passes and control from both teams you’d be embarrassed to see in a pub league. All round, a terrible first 45 minutes from all 22 players. The second half was marginally better, but no more than that.

We’re now three whole matches without testing the opposition keeper. We’ve lost all incisiveness and inventiveness going forward. The movement is static and the quality of passes is often L2 level.

Kelly’s distribution today was at the level that could see Yodel trying to sign him.

Cantwell was… well, I don’t know what to make of him. When he arrived I could see what he was trying to do but he seemed to lack the quality or match sharpness to make it happen. Now I’m wondering why he exists. For a player that’s supposed to be all about technical ability and clever passes, he played some horrendous simple balls. I was amazed that he wasn’t hooked at half time. Parker must have had some masterplan involving him that I couldn’t see.

Smith at LB was a man doing a job where he isn’t a natural fit. Adequate but no more. Quelle surprise? He was extremely lucky to get away without giving a penalty away. For what it’s worth, I thought the handball wasn’t one since his hand was down, the parallel the commentators keep trying to bring with the Forest one doesn’t hold water since the Forest player’s hand was raised. However, the way he took out the Boro player inside the area two seconds later… I can only assume the ref was so focused in indicating no pen he wasn’t looking.

We needed Parker to change the mindset, the approach and the desire of the team at half time. That was a triple fail. Ultimately, it was Groundhog Day with the Sheff Utd game out there with the sides nullifying each other and offering little.

It’s still in our hands but we’re limping towards the line rather than trying to burst over it. There’s still plenty of room for us to throw this away and nerves are really going to start setting in soon. Time for some of the players to stand up and show their quality in the matches to come.

Positive performances:

Smith – Pen incident aside, he did the job asked of him even if it nullified his attacking threat by having him out there. We need him on the other side of the pitch.

Kelly & Phillips – Defensively they were as solid as we could have hoped. To include them here I have to block out what happened when they had the ball at their feet though.

Room for improvement:

Cantwell, Billing, Christie – Where were they? Virtually non-existent out there.

I don’t know how many times we expect other teams to bail us out by dropping points but we’re there again. The lack of energy was a real worry. You’d expect to see players fighting for everything, straining every sinew. Instead, it was lackadaisical. Same from Boro as well to be honest. Both teams bored me today.

Time for Parker to step up as it’s been a poor run of performances in the attacking half of the pitch. He needs to change something. Oh, and whilst I’d be delighted if the answer involves Cantwell I’d also be stunned.

Man of the match against Boro

Kelly

Kelly

L. Cook

L. Cook

Lerma

Lerma

Laird

Laird

Phillips

Phillips

Someone else

Someone else

Your say…

NWCherries98 added…

Team selection was very weird. Rotation in all the wrong places. Why was Cantwell starting on the wing? Why has Leif Davis been banished from the team? The balance was completely off, Kelly’s passing stepped up a notch in terms of being ****, but he and Smith just weren’t on the same page at all which didn’t help. I feel for Laird, he did okay in his first start but we should’ve kept Smith at RB and played Davis or Brady there. What has happened to Stacy, too? Not even on the bench??

Phillips needs dropping for me. Maybe I’m being harsh but he doesn’t improve us at all in my opinion. That’s two games in a row he should’ve cost us with stupid errors. Kelly might be off the boil a bit but his actual defending is rarely below very decent. He and Cahill were the best partnership in the league, Mepham this season has been more than adequate back up and Hill came in to replace Rossi in the squad. Why did we need ANOTHER CB?? Wholly baffling.

We didn’t create anything of real note. But there were a couple of “moments” in the game where Cantwell was kind of through but he fluffed it up. Not nearly enough pace and running in a position where that alone creates chances. He was frankly appalling given his supposed pedigree, should’ve come off at halftime for Anthony or Dembele.

Solanke worked hard and was given nothing. He, Cook and Christie were good. No idea what game you saw to see Christie as non-existent, almost all of our good play came through him from deep in my opinion.

Billing has been underperforming since the Huddersfield game. Our whole game plan seems to collapse when he’s not on it, and currently, he’s not on it at all.

Not a lot of good things to say about any of that today. Poor from everyone in my opinion save for a few individual performances. The entire team dynamic was nervy, uncertain, and off. A simple fix would be to play the players in the correct positions. Left Backs at Left Back, Central Attacking Midfielders at Central Attacking Midfield, wingers on the wing.

northstandmark said…

Anyone who expected April to be a breeze of champagne football was always going to be disappointed given the strength and congestion of the fixtures.

If you’d offered Parker yesterday: a better result than Forest and matching Huddersfield. Our defence restricting Boro to basically nothing all game, whilst we create two clear chances of our own, he’d have taken that absolutely.

Long term its up to Parker to find the right balance with these players and with his tactics. He’s a young manager with a squad and club that’s in transition. I see him as a steady if unexciting pair of hands.

Lets be honest we won’t be paired together forever, we’re a convenient match for one another at this time. – Join the conversation, click here.

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