‘I could have self-isolated instead of watching that,’ rued an old boy in the Billy Wright toilets after the game.
‘I wish the players had of,’ muttered another, which kind of summed it all up.
Playing this game behind closed doors would have done us all a favour in truth, in a game that wasn’t remotely as scary as a killer virus, but still a bit depressing like those Corona headlines – not least when a win by two goals would have put us into fourth. It was a stinker. A bad day at the office.
Aside from another excellent Coady showing and more devilment from a bang-at-it Jota, every other outfield player struggled, combining for what must be the worst home performance since Forest turned us over in the Championship.
The usually unflappable Boly was flustered, the metronomic Moutinho wasteful, while Vinagre and Raul were so bad, you could scarcely believe it was them. The likes of Saiss and Doherty were similarly poor with decision making, in a game that we’ll just put down to experience.
The one observation from when playing well drilled sides in 4-3-3 formations is that we can be outnumbered at times, with the opponents’ full backs playing as extra midfielders and our strikers handled by dominant centre halves. Maybe not all the time, but sometimes it would seem to be the case and in the way we like to set up, possession is conceded as a result. (Just 43% in this case). When we’re so unusually wasteful on the ball as we were yesterday, it makes for an absolute horror show.
While it is churlish to ever question our Bearded Wonder and God-like leader, I’d love to see us sacrifice a defender when games are panning out like this one was, match up the opposition and back our individuals to be better. Mind you, if they’d keep giving the ball away like they did here, it probably wouldn’t matter much.
Better to reflect on the positives, which was another well organised showing, featuring lots of effort and a point at the end of it all.
Taking a draw – and a relatively comfortable one at that being as Brighton hardly worked Rui – was a result we should be happy with in the circumstances. As an old gaffer used to say, ‘we’ll take it, wipe our gobs and move on.’
Or in today’s age, wash our hands.