Apologies to those regular readers for the lack of updates – I have been away for a couple of weeks and got married too so have been pre-occupied and although I specifically chose a non match day to do the deed I still found myself late back on the Saturday so missed much of the Chelsea game…
I have since watched the game and also had the chance to reflect in my own thoughts as well as those of other fans across the globe on the popular forums and I have to say I am very surprised at the negative attitudes of what seem to be the majority towards Pulis’ tactics on the day.
A year back Chelsea came to the Britannia and strolled to victory barely getting out of first gear, in fact there were probably no gears at all and it was more of a pedalo type thing but I digress. On that day we struggled badly with Cole and Bosingwa and it is clear that in his approach to this fixture, the tactics adopted were very much with this in mind. My delayed flight got back into Leeds around 15.30 on the Saturday and leaving the new Wife to get the bags I went off to get the Car so I could listen to the scores coming in. After I had navigated the stupid walkway at the Airport as well as the horrendous automated parking payment system I switched on the radio and heard from the reporter that Stoke City were 1-0 up and looking good for it – I didn’t know the team or the tactics, I knew the score, and we were winning and now into injury time against the team looking most likely to win the League this season.
As we know Chelsea then produced 2 moments of brilliance with a sublime pass from Lampard being finished off with an excellent turn and strike from the in form Drogba to get them level before the break. I also heard that there were 8 minutes of injury time being played and that two influential players had to be taken off injured and I immediately thought about the impact this would have on relieving the imminent tired legs of the 11 soldiers out there in the blazing sun later in the second half. This turned out to be the case and the lack of options available to Pulis to change things around and freshen up the midfield with the likes of Etherington and Lawrence was clear for all to see which lead to the obvious onslaught of the last 20-30 mins which saw us so cruelly denied a valuable point.
I’m very surprised to see such a negative reaction to the tactics used – the fans berating the manager for trying a new system were no doubt the same ones berating him for lacking the ability to do so last season. Yes, we had little possession, yes we had a couple of shots only but we tried a new system which for the most part worked very well and in the end will never know whether the later introduction of fresh impetus would have seen us get a result or not.
It seems to me that the anti Pulis contingent love to jump on anything as controversial as changing a system just as much as they do when the system remains the same and are often too blinded by their own bias to notice what a shrewd and correct decision was made to combat a very real threat. Circumstance worked against us on Saturday, not Pulis and it’s sad that even after such an amazing debut season in the Premier league and excellent start to this one that people are still so quick to criticise Pulis and not respect the decisions that he makes, it’s easy to write your preferred team and tactics down on a message board but Pulis lives and dies by these decisions, we don’t.
So a big pat on the back from this fan for identifying a threat and duly nullifying it, and I feel so desperately sorry for the players and management that the injuries and subsequent lack of options available from the bench didn’t give them a chance to get the result they thoroughly deserved and even sorrier that a large section of the crowd are on their backs for daring to change their approach – the same fickle bunch who would have no doubt sung all the way home had we hung on for a point or god forbid all 3 points…
Football… it’s a funny old game isn’t it?