Fan’s View 2020/21 – No.15 – Crewe at home

Article by Paul Beasley Wednesday, November 18th, 2020  

AT THE THIRD TIME OF ASKING – OXFORD UNITED 0 CREWE ALEXANDRA 2

Obviously no Oxford fan, player, employee or anyone with a stake in the club can have been happy with our start to the season and that was before this numbing 90 minutes.

In every FV I’ve ever written I’ve called it as I see it. I’ve been pretty pissed off with what has happened thus far and have used words like: unless we improve we’ll be going down because this is relegation form. The straws to clutch at were: it’s been stop start; we’ve got players out injured but they’re getting back to fitness; we always start slowly.  Or so we were told.

Whether my glass is half full or half empty I’m desperately searching for positives or at least something to take the edge off the negatives which are the here and now. Football can provide such a boost to one’s mental well-being and given that the world is so full of shit right now it’s needed more than ever. If the outcome of a game isn’t a draw then one set of fans will be on a bit of a high and the other on a bit of a downer, that’s the way it works. But there are ways to lose and in the cold light of day it’s at least something if you can say that your team didn’t win but had nevertheless provided decent opposition, made it hard for the victors to come away with the three points and shown that they’ve got what it takes to win many games in the future.

We didn’t lose like that. We lost with hardly a whimper. Don’t anyone give me this bad day at the office bollox. It wasn’t a one-off. I don’t know what the measure of being pissed off is but if I’d been at 5 on the scale at 7 o’clock I’m now at a 10. It was very telling that Peter Rhoades-Brown on RadOx couldn’t hold back what he thought and he was clearly somewhere high on the scale. That bloke is usually so optimistic but not here.

And for me it wasn’t just the inept performance, it was the Sam Winnall injury too that summed up just how fecked up we are. When he came on I thought, yes at last a bit of craft and for a short period of time we without doubt improved. He had a bit of quality that no-one else had brought to the table. Thirty minutes later off he limps with a few minutes of the 90 left and us hoping to sneak an undeserved draw. Please please may it be pointed out to me in the months to come that what I am about to write is utter crap after a fully fit SW has completed yet another full match and is well on his way to hitting 20 goals this campaign – but it feels like we’ve signed yet another crock. Another fuck up from the recruitment team. A part of the salary budget spaffed up the wall.

At the allotted kick-off time there were yellow shirts on the pitch but no officials or anyone wearing red. It was a great shame that it didn’t stay that way with Crewe playing a third Covid card.

Unfortunately they all did, after a couple of minutes, decide to grace us with their presence. What it was all about, not a clue.

From the outset the Railwaymen kept the ball much better than us. When we did get it we were skilled at losing it really quickly. That said our shape looked pretty decent and there were not holes all along the defensive line. No way was it rock solid though with a real menace coming down the visitors left flank. Repeat after me – Sean Clare is not a right back, Sean Clare is not a right back, Sean Clare is not a right back.

We just weren’t sparking and it took until the 18th minute to pose even the mildest of threats.  The hugely disappointing Olamide Shodipo after a little run was brought down just outside the penalty box but the free-kick came to nothing. NB: It’s probably unfair to single out Shodipo as being “hugely disappointing” in this “hugely disappointing” performance as there were many “hugely disappointing” players.

In the 23rd minute Tom Lowery shot just wide after he had been more switched on than a sleepy Alex Gorrin. RadOx called Gorrin our best midfielder and I have no argument against that but FFS doesn’t that just tell it all.

If that was a warning we didn’t heed it and less than five minutes later had gone behind. Crewe had produced play with very neat close control but our defending was the abysmal we’ve come to expect. Forget the clean sheet against Walsall in the Papa John Pizza pish against a side in a league below in a competition that doesn’t matter. This is where it’s at and we’re nowhere near where we need to be at. Clare had appeared to win the ball but then for a reason only known to himself just stood still. Contemplating what? – “I’m a defender, I’m a defender, what should I be doing?” Clear the effing football. We need someone BIG and STRONG and LOUD back there. Or at least Mous who can read a game and advise and encourage. If he’s not going to play why waste a squad place? After that the ball ended up just trickling over the line. Pretty sure Sam Long should have done better too and he’s been our best player so far this season. Is endemic the word?

Remind me when was the last time that we kept a clean sheet in the league. On second thoughts, please don’t.

That goal wasn’t a wake-up call. We were shambolic, our passing was piss-poor and no-one was showing for the ball. Defensively the frailty was not eradicated.

Undisputedly Crewe looked the better footballers. Not only did we look bad but individuals were playing without brains. We gave away niggly foul after niggly foul.

And it continued that we couldn’t control the ball, no-one wanted it and passes were not finding yellow shirts. So many were contributing so little. Crewe found it so easy to position themselves to block anything we tried and here I’m talking attempting to get the ball from man to man not an effort on goal. That was how short we were.

At half-time Nick Harris said, “To put it bluntly it’s been very disappointing from United.”  He’s another who is usually positive. I was able to put it more bluntly from my sofa, “We were fucking shite.”  No apologies for the language because that’s what we had been.

No heroes, no leaders, no inspiration.

As I’ve said before I don’t normally drink in the week but it was necessary to pour a beer during the break. A bottle of Newcastle Brown. As the glass filled I said, “Do it for Womble.” Can’t believe it is a year since he left us. I think of him regularly and wonder what he would have made of the here and now. Here’s to you Andy.

Time and again it’s said, “Well we’re only one down, could get better in the second half.” Could, yes. Or could not. It was the NOT. We began as we’d finished the first. We had zero creativity. No midfield magician. Not even a just starting out street magician trying out a few basic card tricks.

There was more passion in our living room than there was on the pitch. Both my wife and son were shouting at the incompetence being displayed before them. These weren’t for the same incidents but it’s fair to say there were many to pick from. They’re normally nowhere near as vocal as I am but this is another bit of evidence that proved how goddam awful we were.

In the 54th minute we actually got to the by-line for the first time and that can spell danger – but not here because the ball had gone just out of play before Anthony Forde crossed it.

Karl Robinson had seen enough and made two substitutions before the usually accepted hour mark. That showed how bad matters were. On came Winnall and Jordan Obita. Off went Mark Sykes and Matty Taylor.

Immediately we cranked up the gears but in the end there was a “flattering to deceive” element about it all. For a few minutes Shodipo, having been moved to the right, came to life, the passing was better, it was quicker and much more first time. Winnall was winning a few things in the box.

But we were still giving away those stupid free-kicks. If players behave like morons they are going to lose football matches.

After the initial increase in impetus from us after the changes it was fairly soon back to the way the game had been before.

With fifteen minutes left Simon Eastwood had to pull off a wonder save and then James Henry do likewise immediately after with either head or hand. They then missed a golden chance, but with us chasing the game – and I use the word “chasing” very loosely – Crewe got a second. That was in added time and even after that they could have got another.

We’d already slung Elliott Moore up front when, in the dying seconds, Josh Ruffels popped up in a right wing position, which prompted my son to say, “We’ve given up on formation and are playing free-style jazz football”. I like most genres of music to some degree but free-style jazz, hate it. As I hated just about everything I saw tonight.

Not beer now, time for whisky.

After a heap of dung like this the convention is to hunt around for something positive so I’m going to do just that and it isn’t difficult.

Cameron Brannagan being back in light training is superb news after all he has been through in a relatively short space of time. The outcome could have been so different and I’m buzzing for the lad. Also on a completely selfish note – and over these last few weeks there were clearly more pressing matters than getting back on a football pitch – OUFC more than ever need you. Take your time but when you get back to what you were you’ll be the first name on the team sheet I think.

I’ll go out with one other potential positive and I may be laughed out of court on this but here goes – Clare as a midfielder. When he was on the ball in the Crewe half he looked better than anyone else on our side. He was able to go past men and also see and make a pass. (I do like to start a debate and am happy to be shot down provided the evidence is sound).

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2020 at 12:16 am and appears under News Items. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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