Contemplating a ‘Plan B’ after two games of the season might sound a little churlish to many, not least when they’ve both ended up in 1-0 victories.
But during spells of last night’s unnecessarily burdensome League Cup win, you were wondering what we wouldn’t give for a physical presence up top to hammer home all that intelligent interplay behind.
Don’t get me wrong, ‘Plan A’ looks extremely encouraging and the yearning for a Chris Iwelumo-type probably misses the point completely in this principled new age of possession based football.
(And imagine a scenario if we score an early goal and teams have to attack us. Then we could really have some fun!)
But for all the quite brilliant passing and moving, the hunch is that we’re still missing that final piece of the jigsaw to convert our undoubted dominance up to the edge of the penalty box.
Bonatini – who cuts the jib of Cedric Roussel in my mind – is still some way from being fit, while Nouha Dicko is still to completely convince following his injury, despite his well-taken winner.
If not a big man, then someone with that bit of devilment to fashion a chance from clever positional play. Jordan Rhodes anyone?
In any case, I couldn’t help but be impressed with this performance, which was laden with quick, incisive interplay in what appeared to be a 3-5-2 formation.
The personnel was almost entirely different to the Middlesbrough XI, save for Boly and Bonatini, but you could tell this was another Nuno side at work with Connor Ronan and Jack Price looking particularly easy on the eye in the middle of the park.
Danny Batth and Ryan Bennett looked competent alongside Big Willy, while our wing backs Vinagre and Jordan Graham were exactly what you’d expect; cool and calm on the ball with no little inclination to attack. If anything, they could have done this even more, with Vinagre seeing a lot more of the ball in the second half, lacking only in a telling final ball.
Without doubt, Dave Edwards struggled, shanking the ball out of play in the opening seconds and generally looking ill at ease when asked to recycle the ball in the pinball game mode we now adopt. His early substitution was telling, as was his reaction to it, shaking his head, kicking a water bottle (albeit apologetically) and throwing some energy bar/snack back at the lad who lobbed it his way.
The times, they are a changing, it would appear. (Bright Enobakhare looked so exciting when he came on, with Jota also impressing.)
But not enough to stop a familiar lapse in concentration when a Yeovil striker was afforded oceans of room in front of goal before we scored, only to shoot wide.
Had that have gone in, then we could have been looking at another League Cup embarrassment. Thankfully it didn’t, Nouha Dicko planted home a close-range header and we all move on.