That revival didn’t last long didn’t it? Our ‘blip’ has now become a ‘run’, with just one win in our last seven league matches. All of a sudden, the summit looks so far away.
We’re not going to beat around the bush here, Saturday’s performance was hopeless. Bradford were shit, and on an even worse run than us, but we failed to put any meaningful pressure on a poor team that were there for the taking. I don’t think we should even be talking about promotion any more, but if you want to go up these are the games you HAVE to be winning.
So what’s going wrong? You can point the finger at injuries and you wouldn’t be far off, but we can’t be blaming them for everything. We’re missing the influence of Hiram Boateng, but we played well enough without him at the beginning of the season so that’s not the whole picture.
Key players have hit downturns in form all at the same time – was this as the result of over-exerting ourselves earlier in the season? Jack Iredale, Harrison Dunk, Luke Hannant and dare we say it, Paul Digby, have all put in a number of below-par performances over the past few weeks. Greg Taylor is not a natural midfielder. Adam May is anonymous. Paul Mullin is getting no protection from referees. Harry Darling and Robbie Cundy have both made game-changing mistakes.
People have been starting to question Bonner, but I’m not sure he’s the problem. He’s hamstrung by a lack of options in centre midfield, which is dictating how we set up. It would be nice to see him deviate from his favoured 4-4-2 now and again, but there’s no point if he’s going to be shoehorning players into unfamiliar positions.
The game itself was pretty unremarkable – you watched it, you know what happened, you probably don’t need reminding of it. If you didn’t watch or listen, then rest assured you didn’t miss anything. Bradford were physical and made themselves known through a series of robust challenges. They liked to throw their arms about too, but this is professional football, we’ve got to be wise to that and meet steel with steel. We showed we weren’t pushovers earlier in the season, but now look to go to ground at the first opportunity rather than stand and fight. United couldn’t keep the ball, our distribution was poor and service to the front two almost non-existent. Things improved in the second half when Iredale and Cundy were replaced by Hoolahan and May at half-time (and credit to Bonner for making early substitutions this week) and Knibbs had an off-day until he was replaced by Ironside later in the half. We also got to see Leon Davies who impressed again with his crossing and willingness to get forward. But the U’s lethargy proved to be our undoing, as Bradford took their chance and we never really looked like getting back into it.
Man of the Match: No-one really imposed themselves on the game at all. A performance of this standard against a decent team would have resulted in an utter hiding for United. The players get a shout out for deciding to take the knee again before kick-off, dealing a blow to all those Facebook & Twitter racists still bleating on about Marxism, but we need to get things back on track quickly against Orient on Boxing Day. A performance like this again is unacceptable and Bonner needs to impress that on the players.
Soundtrack of the Match: Spiritualized – Get What You Deserve