Date: 10th August 2012 at 8:39am
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Good morning.

Valencia away it was then. The first thing that struck me was that this didn’t look very friendly. A stadium rammed to the rafters with energetic, relentlessly noisy fans and if they play with such fierce tenacity in a friendly then few will be leaving the Mestella with more than a point when playing them in competition.

None of this blog is by way of excuse. It’s more by way of explanation. That and pointing out the naffing obvious. The passing and ball retention we showed for all of the first half and bits of the second was superb. Valencia were a tough outfit, particularly in the midfield where we were lightest. In the end, that strength, the tempo and two pretty excellent goals were all too much.

Poor old Brad must have wondered what he’d done to upset someone in a former life. One obvious Villas-Boasism is the back line retaining possession when under pressure. So instead of hoofing it out (losing possession) or smashing it up-field (creating a 50/50 ball) the ball is worked back to the keeper so you start again.

Secondly,  I only noticed Brad make one big kick up-field (which resulted in a 50/50 ball we lost) again. He rolled out everything that he had. Why give the ball away? Why risk giving the ball away? These two small devices are incredibly smart as they can have a huge significance upon the way the game is continually shaped.

Inspection of the back four was a mixed bag. I don’t think Benny’s fit. He was spritely enough in the first half but slowed down minutes into the second half. He’d been run ragged and it was showing. What’s obviously required is a proper left sided player to allow to pursue his vision.

The higher line (which we actually saw for the first time last night, despite numerous uninformed comments on previous games) left him gasping for air playing the roles of both left back and pressing wing back. coped far better and probably had one his best ever games for us. He was controlled and actually achieved far more than what I’ve snidely referred to as his Forest Gump routines of the past. He frequently beat his man, tackled well and when he got up the pitch he kept his head, secured ball in  and won corners.

Vertonghen gets an honorable mention in dispatches. Brave, smart and fit. Three very desirable qualities in a centre back.

The pairing of Livermore and ***** isn’t good enough. Livermore’s career is in it’s infancy so subject to the safe return of from Stratford City.  As for ***** Andy McNabb, the ex SAS chappy and author describes being captured and ‘playing the gray man’. The less you stood out the better for survival. If ***** were a food, he’d be tofu.

Who steps in? who doesn’t really do tackles? Parker’s absence is too grim to think about. Sandro needs to be at his best, but the real ire here is that he put country before club and went to the Euros then had his operation. His age and the nature of his play combined don’t inspire me to believe he’ll be back September one jigging about like a Riverdance cast member.

Azza Blud fizzed around more than usual and was unlucky that his effort to score and actually half decent balls into the box didn’t do more. Gilly and Bale look to be developing into a interesting two man crew. If they can not get distracted from this I’m convinced that they will deliver a lot of goals this season.

And so to our old mate the Midget Gem. He’s not a lone striker and I would imagine Villas-Boas know this. But what can you do? There isn’t anyone else. Beyond that his ‘shot’ on goal reminded everyone that he’s as one dimensional as a Bernard Manning joke. And the sooner we get over this ‘he’s a Yiddo’ cobblers. stop hoping and replace him the better. The only role left for him at is as an impact sub, Plan B or perhaps even C.

So right now it’s about fitness and getting the personnel in.

I notice talk of brinkmanship in relation to transfers. Perhaps this is the case, I don’t know.All I will say is that the market is stagnant. Yes the Woolwich Wanderers have bought a few decent players as have the Blue Racists, but beyond that there really is very little movement out there. Lots of talk, but not much going on.

That said, if we go into 2012/13 with the strike-force we have this morning , then we’re in for a long season.