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Which is why, weirdly, it is reminiscent of the Moyes years
Get the most out of a relatively limited squad though coaching, tactics, work ethic and intelligent, bargain signings. But not enough top level talent to trouble the big teams, especially away from home.
We’re going to end up higher in the league putting away the crap teams at home and picking up a few wins away than getting some eye-catching away wins but losing at home to all and sundry.
In an ideal world, we’d beat the dross and be competitive with the big boys but until we get our recruitment and academy right, we won’t be able to close the gap.
I can't see us winning at Anfield & White Hart Lane (or whatever Spurs' ground is called now) nor getting a point at Man U with this squad. If we have no injuries (Ha!) we might get something at Leicester and Arsenal.
We were far from scintillating but Pickford had maybe one half decent shot from distance to deal with and little else. They didn’t stretch us at all - and that was with us missing several key players and still not having a half decent bench to speak of. What that taught me is that we’ve got a manger with far more ability to coach and manage us to win games than the guy who was in place before him. And a team that’s listening, adapting and open to his methods (and improving because of it).
If all we do this season is win the games we should’ve won last season we’ll place better than expected. These are the games that I think we actually learn a decent amount about the squad. We’d have been lucky to take a point from this one, towards the end of last season. In a short space of playing time we’ve already made good strides.
but we should be able to make things difficult for them at the very least. Shouldn't read too much into any individual result or performance I suppose, especially at this early stage but the next few weeks should show whether the ship really is being steered on a steadier course or whether we are going to revert to type after the new manager bounce has faded.
Today hasn't really taught us much but obviously a welcome 3 points after two slightly perturbing defeats.
We’re nowhere near that level as a team, let alone a squad. West Ham are our level so the games against them, Villa, Arsenal, maybe Spurs and Leicester are the ones I’m looking to as showing whether we’re truly among the best of the rest or little more than flat track bullies. Any points gained away at City, Liverpool, Utd, Chelsea are (very) unexpected bonuses.
Far from NSNO but that’s what happens when you spunk £35m on Iwobi, £45m on Sigurdsson, £30m on Keane, £27m on Tosun, another £50m on Walcott and Bolasie etc etc. None of that is Benitez’s doing so I’m judging him and this team in the context of where we are vs where we should be.
can only beat what's in front of you, granted, but United away next will be a more accurate barometer of our progress. Can we at least hold our own against a top 4 side away from home and probably without our best players?
West Ham after that should be interesting too.