Robin Sainty: Commitment in other areas a key factor in City going forward
PUBLISHED: 22:48 06 April 2018 | UPDATED: 22:48 06 April 2018
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I won't dwell on City's defeat at QPR, partly because I wasn't at the game, but also because by all accounts it was an awful City performance with few, if any, mitigating factors.
To be honest, the “highlights” were painful enough.
The defeat has again raised questions about City’s best defensive set-up, with Daniel Farke for the third time in four games (all three of which were defeats) selecting a back four, despite City’s long unbeaten run after Christmas coming with three at the back. Having said that, the sort of individual defensive errors that handed QPR victory can hardly be blamed on the formation.
Nevertheless, this was the first time since that dark day at the New Den back in late August that City have been on the wrong end of a thrashing, and it’s worth pointing out that in that game, as for the previous week’s heavy defeat at Villa Park, City fielded a back four, a system then largely abandoned by Farke until the recent visit to Hull, where four goals were conceded.
There does appear to be a pattern, and the three recognised full-backs that City currently have all look more comfortable going forward than defending. However, if Farke wants to try out different back four combinations then it makes sense to do so now with City’s season effectively dead.
I suspect that his reason for experimenting with the formation again is to try to improve the side’s attacking capabilities, and to some extent that worked against Hull and Fulham, but certainly not at Loftus Road.
While losing to a rampant Fulham in a game in which they competed throughout will be excused by most fans, it’s hard to accept a hammering at the hands of a very ordinary QPR team, particularly given the nature of the goals.
There is a growing air of indifference amongst supporters who’ve suffered a long hard season of pretty unattractive football, and that’s perfectly understandable, because as Sporting Director Stuart Webber himself admitted at the Trust AGM last week, “this season has been a hard watch” and “supporters have been really patient”, although he also noted the frustration felt in the dressing room at the lack of atmosphere at home matches.
To be honest, I think most fans can’t wait for the season to end now, because with City not being involved in either relegation or promotion battles there is an overwhelming sense of things fizzling out.
However, while there is currently no pressure on Farke because most people understand that such a radical restructure will take more than a season to bear fruit, fans will justifiably want to see the Canaries hit the ground running in August.
This season has largely followed the normal pattern after such a major rebuild, in which the first stage is always to make the team harder to beat, something that the switch to a back three after Millwall achieved for much of the season, until the recent reversion to a four.
However, there has been little progress in the next phase, which is being able to find a way to win tight games, as a long list of draws shows, and that’s where Farke needs to find answers if City are to be genuinely competitive next season.
That may require new personnel in the summer, but it’s also down to how quickly City move the ball, a constant source of frustration for fans at Carrow Road this season.
It would be good to see City make more use of the pace and width at their disposal on Saturday, because when they do they look a different side, but that must also be allied to a willingness by midfielders to bust a gut to get into the box in the way that Fulham’s did last Friday.
Just as defending calls for total commitment, so does attacking, but I’m not currently seeing that from City.