… If that performance yesterday was inspired by the Dutch ‘total football’ philosophy Ricardo Moniz is meant to have brought to Meadow Lane.
After an embarrassing cup exit at the hands of Class of 92, oh sorry, Salford City (impartial BBC my ring…) most Notts fans turned up yesterday wanting and expecting a response. A response that included 90 minutes of fight, passion and a little bit of quality. Being frank, we got none of the above.
On the most basic level, Notts failed to scrap, battle and win the right to play football. Too many 50/50’s were won by Northampton. Too many second balls were won by Northampton. Too many runs weren’t tracked; most significantly Graham Burke failing to track Brendon Moloney for their winner.
The only piece of passion evident was Liam Noble tearing a strip off Burke for failing to pull the ball back into his path when he’d rounded the goalkeeper. Even that was tinged with anger as Noble still fails to impose himself on games regularly and for a sustained period of time. Those who see him as an integral part of the team must be questioning his recent run of ‘form’.
As for quality; that was sadly lacking too. Notts failed to sustain pressure for any longer than 5 minutes at a time. When Notts did play, chances were created. Hewitt and Snijders looked to combine down the right and created a good chance for Stead to fire wide in the first half. But moments like this were few and far between. Stanley Aborah was obviously missed with his range of passing, although Gil Swerts did an able job deputising defensively, which meant the midfield failed to create any meaningful passages of play.
Generally Notts weren’t good enough and didn’t look like a team. For me, Roy Carroll epitomised this. For the whole of the second half, instead of managing the defence he was constantly in the ear of the officials. Never once did he offer anything to a Notts player… But the officials must have been sick of him. Carroll was a frustrated man, stood in front of plenty of frustrated fans.
There were some positives. Sheehan and Edwards defended admirably but tonked, Sheehan significantly more, too many long, aimless balls forward. Hewitt looks a prospect going forward but looks shaky when he’s turned around by a pass or winger. Swerts was steady in the Aborah role and there should be a place in the team for him (not least at LB in place of Audel). And Jon Stead scored; hallelujah!
The undoubted success of the afternoon was the returning Ronan Murray. Despite being out for a long period of time he looked sharp, eager to fetch and carry the ball and gave Stead something to work with up front. It will be interesting to see how Moniz accommodates McLeod, Stead and Murray; surely a reunion for Derry and Spencer?
A bad result Tuesday should spell the end for Moniz. We were promised entertainment, but it’s been more farce than entertainment. There have been good, if not great games, but overall Notts have lacked any sort of consistency to see him gifted more time. Quoted in the week as saying 27 training was “too many” absolutely beggars belief – you signed 19 of them Ricardo! And your best left back is playing for bloody Mansfield!