Ugggghhhhh, here we go again. Another match report writing all about a lacklustre U’s defeat. When is this gonna end? What’s got to change? I wish I knew.
I do know what shouldn’t change though, and that’s Mark Bonner’s position as Cambridge United manager. With a run like we’re currently on, we’re starting to hear more and more people begin to call for Bonner to resign or be sacked, and in a way that’s understandable. We’ve hit a brick wall after years of playing well above our collective ability. But look at it rationally – who’s out there that’s going to come into United and change the culture of the club for the better? Who out there understands what it’s like to stand in the Habbin and cheer the U’s on to victory. Who out there is going to be a fantastic ambassador for the club off the pitch?
Darren Ferguson? Steve Evans? Paul Lambert? Chris Wilder? Notwithstanding the fact that most of those names aren’t going to come here anyway, it’s hardly a glowing list of candidates is it? They might have all had Championship experience, but none of them have covered themselves in glory much higher than we are currently.
Bonner isn’t without his faults, he’d probably be the first to admit that. Certain players being played seemingly out of position, substitutions left too late in the game, deference to the opposition, it’s all stuff that winds us fans up, but let’s be realistic – we’ve got five or six first-team players out injured, with those who are fit to feature all taking knocks during a punishing schedule. We’re not Ipswich or Derby, we don’t have the luxury of a large squad. Bonner is having to manage minutes of those who are fit, and is forced to play players when perhaps another week of rest would do them better. This isn’t to excuse our recent performances as they’ve been unacceptable, but I’m not sure what a new manager is going to get out of this bunch of players that Bonner can’t. If anything Bonner has proved he can motivate these guys over the last two seasons, we’re just in a sticky patch right now, and January can’t come soon enough.
So, what needs to change then? For all our incompetence in attack the defence is looking fairly settled. We’re not conceding loads any more, but ahead of that is where the problems lie. Digby looks knackered, and Lewis Simper, for all his quality, can’t carry this teams creative burden in the middle. The front four aren’t working, and I wonder if it’s time to revert to a 4-4-2, with Smith or Knibbs partnering Joe in attack. Joe himself looks like he needs a break too, having worked his socks off for no reward for the best part of two months now.
Let’s talk about Sam Smith though, he’s got class no doubt, but in recent weeks looks like a shadow of the player he was. We know he was on the cusp of a move in the Summer, but after that fell through he looks like he wants to be anywhere but here. I don’t mind players giving something back when they receive a bit of stick, but you’ve got to back that up otherwise you just look stupid. Sam ssshhhhh-ing the NRE after scoring an equaliser against League Two opposition was pathetic, especially as they went up the other end and put the game to bed pretty much immediately after.
There’s not really a great deal more to say about the game is there? For the second game in a row against lower-league opposition United looked like the lesser of the two sides. Grimsby played well and if they were more clinical could have put the game to bed earlier, but didn’t. United laboured through the game and looked at times like we were running in glue – this lot are knackered that’s clear to see. In all honesty, we’ve got bigger things going on than the FA Cup at the moment, and another cup run would have been a distraction at a time when we need to concentrate on getting League points on the board.
Man of The Match: Will Mannion made some good saves, not sure anyone else deserves much mention to be honest.
Soundtrack of the Match: Bjork – It’s Oh So Quiet