I’m not sure I agree with Paul Lambert’s assertion that this was the best we’ve played since he’s been in charge, but the numbers are compelling.
62% possession and 15 more shots on goal than QPR. On paper at least, we probably should have won and almost certainly shouldn’t have lost.
But Lambert will know his side are far too soft-centered and that must be addressed in January if they’re to be upwardly mobile over the second half of the campaign.
The team is jam packed with attacking talent, so we have to expect there will be space for the opposition to exploit, but even so the manner of the goals being conceded is galling.
Both of Bristol City’s strikes on Boxing Day were easily preventable had Stearman and Batth defended with greater authority. But neither of those finishes highlighted the physical defiencies of our center halves quite to the extent as QPR’s winner yesterday.
Pawel Wszolek simply steamrollered through both of them before prodding in what has to be the softest goal of the Championship season to date. Watch it below and tell me if you disagree.
Jack Price, who was outstanding in possession it must be said, can also take a slice of the blame for both concessions. He didn’t do enough to stop the cross coming in for Idrissa Sylla’s well taken opener and was out-muscled in the build up to the second.
Muscle is exactly what we need. Probably a bit more in midfield and significantly more in defence. Mike Williamson could be a short term fix but even he might benefit from a more commanding partner.
More encouragingly up the pitch, some of the interplay between our creative players is very good and had either Dicko or Enobokhare converted their one-on-ones to give Wolves a deserved first half lead, the game would have panned out differently.
But Dicko’s rustiness and Enobokhare’s inexperience are the exact reason we must also look to bring in that most priceless of assets – a goalscoring center forward.
You genuinely feel someone like a Jordan Rhodes would run riot with the current supply line from Costa and Cavaleiro, even if the latter’s final ball so often leaves much to be desired.
Again, a fit and firing Dicko or Bodvarsson have shown previously they can provide what’s required, but it’s not happening for either of them at this current juncture, so other options must be explored. We can’t wait forever.
Whether we can attract a proven Championship poacher to come to a team in the bottom half of the table is another matter entirely. Perhaps if we sell the dream of next season?
In the here and now we’re staring down the barrel of a daunting run of fixtures. Sheffield Wednesday away is as difficult as they come and with games to follow against Villa, Norwich and Huddersfield in January, this clumsy slip-up may soon appear more costly than originally anticipated.
A ball has yet to be kicked in 2017 and it already feels like another journey into the unknown. As usual, we’ll try to enjoy it.
Happy New Year to one and all!