It's easy after the event to say I said play Vellios from the get go but the reality is that our old guard hold no surprises. Yes, we're hopelessly underfunded, short on depth in a very small squad and, only when it's fully functioning are we pretty good. Trouble is, when the going gets tough & the numbers are short, holding a short stack there's often a tendency for Moyes to hold his cards close to his chest and play it tight.
The reality is that, with a few tough game out of the way, it's time to look forward & find our feet again. Today we've seen us put a well deserved three points on the board and it's encouraging to see us finally start to win games on the road that we're capable of winning. Losing at City & Chelsea, regrettable results though they are, are not earth shattering losses. Failing to pick up three points at the likes of Fulham & Blackburn would only add to the sense of gloom.
In the 8 games so far we've probably got about what we deserve - a bit unlucky at City to run into a team on a roll (as well as some shocking referee calls by Webb), singularly (and typically) unfortunate in the Liverpool game and defensively inept at Chelsea. We hoped for something but didn't deserve a great deal on the two road games. The defeat against QPR was very disappointing but there seem to be some mitigating circumstances in the lack of balance in the side we were obliged to field. On the positive side we played relatively well in the draw against Villa (again no help from the ref) & significantly better against Wigan as well as today against Fulham where we earned the good fortune of a late winner (again) thanks to a miscue of Torres proportions by Zamora. It is also tempting to argue we deserved the good fortune of a clumsy penalty award at Blackburn after Lee Mason ruled - twice - in favour of the home side over penalty decisions that went against us - neither of which were put away. So, yes, some bad fortune but at least some good fortune to counterbalance that.
Now what is coming up - yes, two tough league games against a possibly very angry Manchester United and a surprisingly rejuvenated Newcastle as well as an awkward looking Carling Cup tie against Chelsea on Wednesday. It would be good to emerge from these three games with some sort of profit (at least some points and a win or two!). A win on Wednesday against a scratch Chelsea side (minus the likes of Cole & Drogba) is achievable with an adventurous (read Green or less experienced) side - perhaps with the likes of Tim Cahill on bench duty. A point in the other two games entirely reasonable. Newcastle's bubble will burst ere long (perhaps a tough game at Stoke on Monday will put them in lesser spirits). Time methinks for Lady Luck to wear Royal Blue & give us a bit more good fortune of Zamora proportions.