Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Megson in! - The Mighty vs Shrewsbury Town

A horrible traitorous man, who could, at least, beat Shrewsbury...

I hope this is one of those games where I go at the end - "I was wrong" as it feels really odd that over recent weeks we've seemingly ditched a formation that we looked really good in, that suited our flair players, saw us create a shed load of chances and that looked more like we thought 'Critchball' would than anything we've seen to date and gone back to playing 4-4-2 which seems the opposite of what you'd imagine 'Critchball' to be. 

Anyway. You'll note the lack of intro. We're pretty much straight in this week as I've been doing what 2021 calls 'self care' and 1996 calls 'going for a walk on a sunny day.' Luckily, where there is normally a load of rambling digression, I've had another call from my source and can bring you a further exclusive extract of Critch's diary to keep us bang on the mark of 'topical match related information'  

What a shitshow. Every time Simon turns up, we play like that. I had to tell Colin he couldn't 'punch them all into next week' as we need them next week. Anyway, on the way home, I got a call from a sheepish sounding Mike...
"Boss, it's me, Mike"  
"I know Mike, your name comes up on my phone, we've been through this about 30 times"
"Yeah, I forget... There's something I need to tell you, you know you sent me to Macro for a load of those Lucozade energy tablets for before the game, well, I just double checked and I actually bought Kalms herbal night time sleep tablets - I was playing Candy Crush on my phone, so I wasn't really looking and I've only gone and handed three each of them out to all the lads before the game"
Well, that explains it doesn't it? For fucks sake Mike! On the way home, I rang Jurgen to see if he fancied a job here, what with all the super league stuff going off. I explained Mike's role (shouting, nipping to Macro, writing things in a black book and carrying cones) but he didn't fancy it. Never mind. I'll stick with Mike. He is very good at shouting and carrying the cones, and his handwriting is excellent. Talking of the Super League, I don't think there'll ever be anything to match the beauty of a 0-0 draw in the u23 academy league when the high pressing of both teams cancels each other out. Sheer joy. Football at it's finest. 
My advanced data metrics team told me not to worry about Rochdale. They said 'Hi Neil, look, we've been on Twitter and everyone says we always lose to them, so there's nothing you could have done about it.' Then they dropped the bombshell that we don't often play very well against Shrewsbury either. That second message rather spoiled the bowl of All Bran I was having at the time (Janine forgot to buy the low salt Muesli at Aldi, so I will have to send Mike out today, though he'll probably come back with Sugar Puffs the daftie!) 
Anyway. We got our heads together and tried to develop a plan to overcome this so-called 'hex'  
Mike said we could say the name of their old ground in snide voices and giggle and nudge each other. I wasn't certain, but when Sullay said 'c'mon boss, that's below even an immature 12 yr old' I decided to move on. 
Steve said 'don't ask me, I'm just the goalkeeping coach' and went off to try and persuade Stuart Moore that he does actually exist and to explain again to Alex Fotijeck why the fuck we bought him. 
Colin said 'We could slay their first born children in the night and then wear their skins around our shoulders like the spoils of some ancient timeless war' Big Gaz thought that sounded like 'mad craic' but pointed out he had a booking at the snooker club so he wouldn't be able to join in. I decided that probably went a bit far and might seem a bit, well 'mad' (not as mad as playing Ethan Robson mind) so I ruled it out. 
In the end, we decided we'd lift the curse by ritually sacrificing a shrew and leaving it in their dressing room. 
Did a bit of training then sent the lads to look for a shrew to sacrifice. Mike went to Macro but they didn't have any. Demi found an old brick and Garbs unearthed a dead pigeon in the gutter of the portakabin new modular training facility. We got really excited when Jimmy thought he'd seen one, but it turned out to be a sock that had been left in the undergrowth.

In the end, we put the pigeon in their dressing room and Turts had the bright idea of sticking a post it note on it, saying 'this is a pigeon, but imagine it was a shrew
That will show them we mean business. In all this hullabaloo I forgot to think about my masterclass for the week, so I'm just going to do the same thing as Tuesday, but I'll personally check they're lucozade tablets this week. Might even go to Macro myself for them. It'll all work out. 
Last week's masterclass is still a masterclass after all! 


As the players come out, loads of lads with forks run out with them. This could be a really canny plan. If they look like scoring, spear them on a garden tool. Jerry claps like mad and psychs himself up. They run out really late. It feels somewhat strange to be wasting the sunshine indoors, peering at the game on a laptop. 

There's something missing. Wait a minute, there's no Chissy! This is brilliant. You can hear everything. Some genius shouts 'Come on the Pool!' as we kick off and screams of 'Sull, Sull!' accompany the enigmatic genius as he makes a couple of early runs. Simms nicks it, touches it to Yates, who finds an onrushing Kaikai. His cross from wide left has a nice shape, but is half a yard too high.  We've started ok. 

Then Chissy appears. Sometimes you don't know what you've got till it's gone and the commentator-less feed was wonderful. You have to watch the game properly without someone (mis)interpreting it and telling you Sullay is shit and Ollie Turton is the world's finest human being ever, ever, ever every five minutes. Hearing the shouts and the sound of the boot through the ball made it all seem a bit more visceral. 

Simms has nice hold up play, Sullay is a wizard in a one-two with Dougall. Yates spins at the end of the move, but is robbed of the ball. We look better than them but nothing much has really happened. 

It takes 12 minutes for a shot. Embleton's short corner leading to a low drive on an angle from Fragile (but not as fragile as he was) Luke. The keeper clutches but takes it over the touchline. Garbutt takes the corner, it's swung to the far post, Yates nods it back and it bounces for Dan Ballard about 9 yards out. He swings, hits it hard as he can but it balloons high up into the stands. 

At the other end, Ward loses it, the Shrews go through the middle. A low shot that Maxwell has covered is turned into a looping effort that looks to be going in by a deflection from Ballard. It hits the underside of the bar, Thorniley clears and then it looks worryingly like Gabriel cleans out one of their players in the box but the ref lets it go. It's livened up. 

Sullay has a shot blocked, then does a little give and go with Simms and his second touch is heavy. He looks lively, fired up, he's more expressive than he normally is in his body language as he berates himself. Embleton isn't really getting into the game though. Garbutt repeats the far post cross from earlier. Jerry again gets his head on it, but it flies almost straight up and lands on the roof of the net. There's a lovely moment where everyone is static, watching it go up, and then down. 

Embleton threads a ball through to no one then gets clattered. Gabriel knocks two players over on a run to nowhere. We've had a few little spells where it looked like we might take control, but we haven't yet done so. I have one of those moments where I wonder if Critch reads this, as we launch a long throw, a tactic we never, ever seemed to use, but suddenly seem to have adopted in the last few weeks after I wrote that I didn't know why we never do them. 

Harry Chapman is on the end of a sweeping Shrews break. Gabriel is left for dust and it takes a heroic slide from Ballard to save the day and divert it for a corner. Chapman then produces a devastating inswinger and Maxwell does well to punch it, diverting it away from goal as it fizzes dangerously waiting for a touch. 

Sullay makes one of his dreamy little touches in to Simms and races free, looking for the return but Ellis instead turns slowly and has the ball hacked away from him. A great header at the back, a lovely touch from Ward, a shimmy from Sullay and a crisp ball to Embleton who has time and space to run into but instead tries to send Jerry away and his ambitious pass is read by their defence. That's what we've been like. There's been some nice stuff, but the end product isn't there. 

Finally it almost is. Sullay to Embleton who plays a lovely reverse flicked pass, Simms touches it off and Kaikai hits it first time from the edge of the box into the arms of the keeper. It's a nice move, even if the finish wasn't there. 


We've been the better side, but without creating a lot. So far, Kaikai is the pick of our attacking players and I'm still not at all convinced that having Embleton central (he's not looking comfortable on the right side) and Demi out wide wouldn't give us more options than playing two strikers does. 

That's the frustration. We're clearly (Harry Chapman aside) better than them but we've not really made that quality count. 


There's no changes, which isn't a surprise and is I suppose better than seeing Turton come on for Gabriel or something like that. Harry Chapman causes more trouble which Ward does very well to cut out, then as we break, Simms looks like an academy player as he turns straight into trouble and loses the ball, trying to play football far to deep. 

Then Simms looks world class as he chases a ball from Gabriel, to the byline, charges two defenders out of the way, crosses for Yates who is just beaten to it. Sullay keeps it alive, thinks about a run then lays it to Garbutt, his ball is good and again Yates is there at the near post, meeting it in a collision of bodies and just not quite turning it in.

Minutes later, it's Gabriel lifting it over the top, it's a sensational ball, up, over and down onto a sixpence and Yates movement is superb, he takes it down perfectly and he rifles it at the near post corner, the ball clipping the wrong side of the post. 

It's been our best spell, but after a slip from Gabriel, Shrewsbury get down the pitch and have a corner. They cross it, head it and score. It's the easiest, most simple goal you could ever see. Pennington just steps in front of his man and in front of the keeper and heads it in. I'm slightly in shock over how straightforward the goal was. 

C'mon Critch. Roll the dice man. 

Embleton is dispossessed just as he's about to shoot. We pass it about quite a bit. They have a break. We have a few moments where it looks like we might, but we don't. We end one move with Ballard lifting a heavy ball over the top for Sullay. Not the man you want chasing a high ball, nor the man you want playing one. 

Shrewsbury make a sub. They are winning. Neil! NEIL! NEIL! We are losing. I'm all for patience, but c'mon. Demi is warming up and finally Demi is coming on and we're finally switching to the formation known to the world as 'the one we discovered at half time against Burton and used for a while and looked dead good' (or 4231) 

Immediately we pass and move. As we go wide, Sullay comes inside, Garbutt finds him, he does a beautiful trick, stroking the ball away from his man with one foot, then hitting it hard from 20+ yards with the same, forcing a diving save. Demi has a little run and then lashes it over the top. 

Ethan Robson is coming on. So is, more confusingly, Ollie Turton. Gabriel makes way as does Embleton. Mike Garrity has his sleeves rolled up looking like a man fixing his car in the sunshine. Critch is looking a bit aggrieved that we seem only able to muster balls from the centre back clipped over the top for them to clean up his arms folded. A curmudgeonly looking imp. 

We try and play triangles in the corner, but it looks like we've all got a different idea of what sort of triangle it is in our minds. Demi wins a free kick. Garbutt hits into the wall. But it's lashed back in, Yates nods it back, Robson swivels and hits it hard but it's blocked by the keepers legs, there's Jerry, racing in and lashing it home. Yes! But no. It's offside. Fucking hell. 

Mike Garrity is running into their technical area to retrieve the ball. Good lad Mike. It's getting tetchy. Dougall gets smashed in the face by the ball. Norburn seems to have taken an instinctive dislike to Demi and the two of them seem locked in a permanent scuffle, like a pair of dogs who don't get on. Ballard concedes a free kick and his angelic face is red and furious as he hurls the ball down into the turf. 

Dougall is replaced by Brad Holmes. Come the fuck on Pool! We have a free kick. Sullay takes. It hits the man at the near post. We get a throw and then contrive to pass it out of play on the other side of the pitch. Yates and Holmes link up, The young lad does well to get it back to Jerry, but he gets it tangled up under his feet. Sullay nips it to Holmes, he goes down the left wing, but he can't quite chase his first touch. Was he held back? He doesn't look shy as he claims he was. Nor does he look overawed as he shouts for the ball, showing up, joining in well. 

Holmes looking a footballer aside, it's frustration itself. We have a twenty pass move that ends with Demi getting away and a ball in, but of all people, it finds Ollie Turton who just sees it hit his legs and dribble wide. 

Sullay takes a decentish corner, which grazes about three heads as it flies across the box. It's with Robson, wide, he strokes it back to Ward who neither shoots nor passes, lifting a loopy ball to no one over the bar. We spend the remains of extra time wrestling and trying to fight them out of the corner. When we finally do, we pass it sideways on halfway in a way that has me simoultaneosly apoplectic with rage and thinking 'they're letting the centre back get up' and when Garbutt finally launches it, someone wins it, it falls for Robson who has shot. It's weak though and the keeper has all the time in the world to kneel and collect. It's not only a textbook example of how to get your body behind the ball, but he had time to read the textbook first just to gen up on how to do it. 


Not going to write much here, but it's again, like early season Pool. Whether it's fatigue or actually, we aren't as good as we thought we were I don't know. There was so little creativity it hurt. Sullay did ok and we made a few chances here and there, but the side that was tearing things up and dominating only a few weeks ago looked nowhere to be seen. Shrewsbury, like Rochdale before them didn't really look up to much. The goal looked to be a defensive error, but a side of quality should be able to concede the odd goal here and there.

We looked ponderous going forward aside from a little burst for 10 minutes at the start of the secod half and with little lads up front, we found ourselves so often having Dan Ballard, aiming a ball, not very accurately at one of them and looking increasingly out of ideas as the game progressed. 

We've lost for the second week in a row to a side that offered very little and that's frustrating as fuck. I'm not sure what we're so scared off about these sides? Why can we go and pin a top side back relentlessly, but faff about against mid table and lower half sides as if they're going to murder us if we attack? 

Masterclass gone wrong. Megson in. (no, never. Megson out! Fucking prick. Hate him)





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