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Brentford v Boro 0-0

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38 minutes ago, Changing Times said:

I honestly don't know mate.  When he was playing and being benched in alternate games I could believe it because Warnock's saying he can only manage one game per week in his opinion, or the sports science people are, whoever decides those things.  He'll play one and miss one until such time as we feel he can manage more than that. 

This past week though we've played three games and he hasn't played a minute.  Warnock has routinely mentioned the size of the squad and this week we've had players missing - Morsy, Akpom returning from illness, Saville yesterday.  Wing came into the side against Brentford, Warnock apparently talked his performance up, I didn't really see it myself.  I wasn't one of those saying how rubbish he was throughout the match day thread but I didn't think he played well.  Being kind to him I thought he looked very rusty, as you might expect, and Brentford was a tricky game to come into in that situation.  Wing was playing the more advanced midfield role so Roberts could have played there but wasn't given an opportunity.  And this comes after Warnock said he was annoyed at himself for not bringing him on against Blackburn.  It seems a bit contradictory to me. 

For all the praise of how we're doing, this week we've scored one goal in three games, and that one goal came in the 81st minute from Johnson of all people.  If Roberts can't get involved in games like these, when we are struggling to score a goal, then I'm not sure when he will be in the team because you're not going to bring him in to make you more secure defensively are you!  We play three central defenders and usually three fairly hard working midfielders as well as our full backs.  There's lots of praise for our defenders this season so maybe we can 'risk' a more attacking player with some belief that we won't suddenly start shipping goals.  Otherwise what's the point in Roberts being here when he's not even coming off the bench to try and help us find a winner?

I’m not sure why he’s here either. The Gazette are reporting that teams think we are difficult to play against, that’s as maybe but we are certainly difficult to watch. We’ve lost twice, won 5 and drawn 6 so far this season. None of those games had me on the edge of my seat, I just want to see a bit of ambition from the midfield.

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Just to add to that.  With the international break upon us, our next game is not until 21st November against Norwich.  At this point Roberts will have played 146 mins of football this season and wouldn't have played at all for almost a month.  He started Warnock's first three games here and he came off the bench for 45 mins in Woodgate's final game.  Then he was dropped for Millwall and came off the bench against Bristol City for 24 mins.  Then he started the next two against Cardiff and Reading, before being on the bench for the Sheff Wed game.  I don't know much about sports science but it seems weird that he could cope with the game time a couple of months ago but now he can't.  It's also strange to me that these problems or potential problems weren't picked up over this time or the earlier part of his spell here.  Did we change our sports science people over the summer?

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Him not coming on at all in the last game can not be anything to do with sport science advice.  As you say he's barely played and now we have two weeks without a game.  If anything he's now going to be bloody rusty through not playing!!

Its a decision Warnock made and we are not going to understand why unless he comes out and says exactly why he didn't bring him on.  The comment from the previous game that he regretted not bringing him on only makes it more difficult to understand.

 

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1 hour ago, sackrobson2 said:

Him not coming on at all in the last game can not be anything to do with sport science advice.  As you say he's barely played and now we have two weeks without a game.  If anything he's now going to be bloody rusty through not playing!!

Its a decision Warnock made and we are not going to understand why unless he comes out and says exactly why he didn't bring him on.  The comment from the previous game that he regretted not bringing him on only makes it more difficult to understand.

 

He already has. Whether you believe him or not is another thing, but he's already said he believed the midfield of Brentford was too physical and it wasn't the right kind of game for Roberts.

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Warnock has built a solid spine in the Team from an experienced and very vocal Goalkeeper to a defensive back line in front of him that is the tightest in the EFL. Bringing in the tenacity of Morsy with the experience of Howson and the savvy Saville who can maybe nick the odd goal (which is what he was actually bought for in the first place) provides a very strong and dominant midfield that don't get bossed about or brushed aside in games. 

In the matches that we have played so far our Midfield has for most of the time been on top which in turn takes massive pressure off the defence. The defence has looked watertight, McNair looking a class above at this level, Fry back to his best, Dijksteel almost frighteningly good whilst I don't recognise Bola at all such has been his performances compared to last season. Those eight positions/players are the framework and foundations upon which Warnock has built his team.  It's effectiveness in making us extremely difficult to beat has become very clear and obvious but most importantly and especially to opposition Managers who are actually uncomfortable in dealing with us. Having achieved that, which is in stark contrast to the shipwreck NW inherited, he is not going to jeopardise that in any way shape or form. He has even slowly morphed the shape from a back three to his preferred back four almost seamlessly.

After those eight bedrocks that leaves just three other positions with which to affect games but without damaging his foundation. He isn't the first Manager who believes that if you keep a clean sheet opportunities will come. Two of those three positions critically interact and dovetail with his RB and LB. Clearly they are encouraged to get forward but to make sure there are no gaps left behind. Spence is now dong that with a growing understanding with Dijksteel, in time that synergy will become almost telepathic. Johnson/Coulson have clearly been instructed to have the same mindset and to keep to the plan. Bola's emergence is more recent but in time there will be a partnership and understanding developed on the left.

The drawback which is blindingly obvious to us is that the Striker, be it Chuba or Britt is largely isolated and expected to graft and scrap. The "plan" is that Spence/Tav/Coulson/Johnson are expected to generate attacking threats with the support of an advancing midfielder as back up (Saville presumably) but without compromising defence, becoming stretched and exposed. It's maybe not exciting to watch but it is intriguing to see the organisation and the confidence building along with the vastly important belief. Why do I think belief is important? Well look at Reading a decent side but nothing overly special who were by far the form team in the Championship, unbeatable, that is up and until someone popped their bubble. Suddenly that confidence was shot and belief now gone. Likewise Derby, they are by no means the worst side in the Championship on paper but they are now totally bereft of any shred of confidence and belief. 

Had we shipped a late goal against Blackburn we would have been sickened. Warnock would have had to pick his players up for the trip to Brentford. Having been shorn of both Morsy and Saville on Saturday his midfield was not his preferred trio meaning that there was a perception of a possible, flaw, a weakness that wouldn't normally be present. It didn't materialise much to the credit of Tav and Wing. Granted Wing looked rusty at times but Brentford lost the midfield battle, they struggled to get their normal game together. I would have loved to see Roberts come on, dribble past three defenders and upended for a 89th minute penalty to Boro. Conversely I would have also been equally livid if he done it just over the half way line, lost possession and Brentford scored as a direct consequence. 

Of course I would much prefer to see more guile and attacking intent from NW. He did want Bolasie so that indicates to me that he probably wants the same but only by being assured of the quality going forward not being at the expense of a clean sheet. NW has a plan, his players understand, respect it, trust it and stick to it. That plan has taken a relegation haunted squad to one that now thinks itself capable of getting into the play offs, even the automatic places. Our new found resilience is still in its infancy, we are not quite infallible just yet, Warnock knows that. As that belief builds we will see more risks from confident players going forward but never at the expense of keeping a clean sheet.

Roberts is a Player that can unlock defences but like Warnock I'm not convinced that it will always be the right defence. When he has played for us there have been plenty of comments about him learning to pass the  ball or not taking on one Player too many, thats a luxury which could bite us on the backside. One worth taking if we win but a gamble that we could struggle to get back on track if we don't, as Reading are now finding. If we are behind and chasing a game Roberts can maybe be that talismanic locksmith for us but we forgetting what its like to go behind.

We are four points off top spot with a quarter of the season almost gone. Admittedly with more risks we may even have been top but we could also have been on a three or four game losing streak. Building something takes time and patience, if we weren't making progress then by all means we would have cause to complain but Boro are progressing. When the season started not many would have predicted that Boro would be four points off top spot at the November International break. 

I remember previously in the Championship Grant having a go at the fans for being impatient witnessing sideways and backwards passing during Karanka's reign, booing even. He tried to get across that it was in their game plan, retain possession and tease the opposition out but don't over commit. They knew what they were doing and that it was deliberate. In the end it achieved the desired objective although it was difficult to watch. I get that some fans want exciting football but to me football is a game of strategy not just excitement, winning to me is far more important than playing well and everyone loving us. We done that before briefly with Ravanelli and Juninho etc. but it cost an unsustainable fortune, the media loved us but couldn't give a stuff when we went down. Now more than ever it is all about survival and not just on the pitch but off it.

Meantime I am enjoying watching a master at work and seeing the confidence and belief building week on week, especially with players many of whom had been written off and indeed many on here are still seemingly desperately determined to write off. It may not be a popular Jurgen or Pep style fast paced comedy with lots of excitement and laugh out loud moments, instead it is more akin to a Nordic noir thriller, simple, realistic, intriguing yet compelling right to the very end. 

 

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agreed we could have lost the last 4 but we also could have won them all to. i think we were in a stronger position to win all 4 so i feel happy knowing that. i dont fee like i did when AK was here and we were struggling to score. that worried me because we were not a dominant team really. we sat very deep and didnt do a lot with the possession we had most of the time. this time round we are testing the opposition, you can see all over the pitch they opposition look shattered every game against us. we really do give teams a run around. if we keep this up all season we will hit the goals when the ground gets heavy and legs get tired mid winter. we dont have to create chances we will be gifted them. like vs bristol. teams will know from first time round its going to be tough and we might have a few tired squads not fancy playing us and beaten before a balls been kicked. hes hoping lol. its early days and a long way to go before we are a feared team. couple more months of squeezing the life out of teams and we'll know were we stand after the xmas hols.

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If we can't cope with a defeat mate then none of the rest matters.  We are going to lose more games this season, that's just how it is.  We lost the first game of the season and then went on an unbeaten run so it hardly destroyed us.  I don't see any reason why a defeat would suddenly remove all the belief from this squad or any squad to be honest.  If everything continues as it is then we finish outside the top six.  Clearly, everything won't continue as it is of course but that might include our own performances. 

Back to Roberts and he hasn't played all week.  In fact, as I've already pointed out, he's only played in two games for a total of 146 mins.  It's ok talking about him unlocking the 'right' defence (although that really doesn't mean anything does it) but he's not being given the opportunity to unlock any defences.  This brings us back to the question of why he's here, if Warnock isn't comfortable using him.  We've got a small squad, we have a talented player on loan, but we are hardly using him?  I'm sure Warnock will give him some game time after the break, I'm just not sure why he has been reluctant to so far.

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Warnock is comfortable using him; just for whatever reason he hasn't thought (at the time) any of the last three games were it. 

I don't necessarily agree with that personally and clearly even he doesn't with his post Blackburn admissions, but he clearly believes that Roberts is only suitable in a certain type of game, of which we've apparently not had for a little run now. Whether that's due to his muscles or simply the fact that he's unlikely to do as much defending as other wide options will, I don't know. 

But this idea that Warnock is reluctant to use him and no one knows why doesn't hold water to me. He's been very clear about when/why he uses Paddy and when/why he doesn't. 

Disagree with it all you like, I certainly do, but lets not act like it's some huge mystery.

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I don't think its a case of Warnock not rating Roberts  I think its more likely that he is happy with the way we are playing and accumulating points at the moment. 

Bringing Roberts on against Brentford would have given us more options going forward but I think Warnock was maybe concerned that we'd be less solid defensively with him in the team. Thats likely to be the case in most games. 

For the record, this is not my opinion, im just second guessing NW. 

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16 minutes ago, Brunners said:

Warnock is comfortable using him; just for whatever reason he hasn't thought (at the time) any of the last three games were it. 

I don't necessarily agree with that personally and clearly even he doesn't with his post Blackburn admissions, but he clearly believes that Roberts is only suitable in a certain type of game, of which we've apparently not had for a little run now. Whether that's due to his muscles or simply the fact that he's unlikely to do as much defending as other wide options will, I don't know. 

But this idea that Warnock is reluctant to use him and no one knows why doesn't hold water to me. He's been very clear about when/why he uses Paddy and when/why he doesn't. 

Disagree with it all you like, I certainly do, but lets not act like it's some huge mystery.

He is reluctant to use him though.  I don't really understand how anyone can think otherwise when he's only played in two games this season?  He also hasn't been clear about it.  He said it was down to his muscles and then he said he was annoyed at himself for not bringing him on against Blackburn - why didn't he bring him on?  Because he is reluctant to use him!

He can't play cos of his muscles but he can be on the bench but we can't bring him on but I'm annoyed I didn't bring him on?  There's nothing clear about it with respect. 

Some of you are acting like we are playing brilliantly at the moment.  We've won one game in three this week and we scored one goal to do it.  That goal came in the last 10 minutes after we'd made subs, none of which were Roberts. We've won four games this season from eleven and as it stands we aren't actually in the top six are we?   Take it further if you like, lots of players are playing lots of minutes as it stands, which I assume can't be all that great for them.  Meanwhile we have a talented player who is hardly playing any minutes?  I'm not even talking about some giant conspiracy, it's just odd.

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24 minutes ago, Changing Times said:

He is reluctant to use him though.  I don't really understand how anyone can think otherwise when he's only played in two games this season?  He also hasn't been clear about it.  He said it was down to his muscles and then he said he was annoyed at himself for not bringing him on against Blackburn - why didn't he bring him on?  Because he is reluctant to use him!

He can't play cos of his muscles but he can be on the bench but we can't bring him on but I'm annoyed I didn't bring him on?  There's nothing clear about it with respect. 

Some of you are acting like we are playing brilliantly at the moment.  We've won one game in three this week and we scored one goal to do it.  That goal came in the last 10 minutes after we'd made subs, none of which were Roberts. We've won four games this season from eleven and as it stands we aren't actually in the top six are we?   Take it further if you like, lots of players are playing lots of minutes as it stands, which I assume can't be all that great for them.  Meanwhile we have a talented player who is hardly playing any minutes?  I'm not even talking about some giant conspiracy, it's just odd.

He didn't play vs Blackburn at the time because Warnock didn't think it was the right kind of game for him.

Afterwards, upon reflection he realised he was wrong and that it was the perfect game for him. The fact he owned up to the mistake publicly was good and hopefully he can not do it many more times.

I don't think it's difficult to understand that NW clearly only thinks he's suitable to a certain type of game, that at the time he hasn't thought we've been in.

The muscles stuff is just about why he can't just play every minute of every game, we have to manage him (not sure if it's a temporary thing or a permanent muscle issue), but the two things aren't mutually exclusive. His muscles can be okay to play AND Warnock can think it's not right to bring him on.

I don't think it's that odd when you look at NW, against Brentford for example I'd be willing to bet he thought if he put Roberts on they'd get too much space to attack in the final however many minutes were left after he puts him on and the later he leaves it, the easier it is to say "it's too dangerous now".

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MAYBE nw is thinking its better for us long term to play spence and tav. they are our own players and are still improving. maybe roberts isnt that much better than them so hes rather using our own players.

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I do think it's odd that we went from one game saying we should have brought him on to then be in a very similar position in the next game a few days later and we again choose not to bring him on.

I would say it's a mild concern at this point for me, there's still every chance he can make a big difference to our season. But the lad has to play to make a difference if he's not trusted from the start, we have to give him a chance to do something from the bench. We've got to do something to change games to try and win them and I don't think the changes we made against Brentford had any hope of giving us the win, they were more of the same. Incredibly, the only thing that seemed to happen after the changes was Wing seemed to turn up in the game.

The other thing to say is, if this is shape related, do any wingers get into our team? Do Bolasie or Grosicki ever get into Warnock's 11? And if we end up having that conversation, then the Pulis comparison starts getting some credence doesn't it. Then we're back in Van la Parra territory. 

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Roberts excelled whilst at Celtic and had an impressive record at U16, U17, U18, U19 and U20 for England but outside of that he hasn't been a resounding success at other clubs.

That he has tremendous skill and dribbling ability isn't in doubt but apart from that very important Boro goal last season he has only ever scored for Celtic. He has never managed to score for Fulham, Girona or Norwich. In 55 games for Celtic he amassed 15 goals which understandably is why he is held in such high esteem up there.

We have seen first hand how great Scotland's finest goal scorers perform at Championship level. It is entirely possible that he was signed as a back up here for the right wing berth and not as first choice in Warnock's eyes. We don't see how good or frustrating he may or may not be in training. Of course we all hope that he is the real deal but his career to date hasn't realised the early potential that Man City forked out a ridiculous fee for. 

Whilst we salivate at what we think he can do he has only delivered it against the likes of Motherwell and Hearts, teams which are probably League One level down here. He does of course have Champions League experience and scored against Lincoln Red Imps (I had to look it up as well) and one very memorable game where he was allowed to play against his employers Man City (in which he scored). Other than that his loan to Girona as an example wasn't great and indeed they were relegated (not of course saying it was his fault) that season.

The glimpses that we have seen have been tantalising but realistically he danced for too long in most scenarios or past too many defenders which suggests either his decision making isn't great or he just tries too hard. Having witnessed improvements in several players at the Riverside during his short time here NW might just know exactly what he is doing with Roberts.

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