Of course it had nothing to do with the result but the second I noticed David Elleray was the referee I just knew we were doomed.
Ranieri’s negative tactics and our general inability to convert a hatful of decent chances or to make better use of the possession means – to me at least – that the season has come to a premature end. Before anyone gets out of their pram I do realise there is the small matter of the fourth Champions League spot to play for. But finishing in fourth spot with the squad we have, and having to face a team in qualifying from Outer Mongolia, who will probably beat us, is not a season of success for me.
One of the papers today states that we ‘enjoyed’ 62 per cent possession, that we had eight shots on target to their two (yet they still scored three goals), that we had seven shots off target compared to their one and 10 corners more than them. So what!
The Gooners came with a weakened team ready for the taking but misfortune, poor defending and a general lack of passion meant we allowed them to hit us on the break enough times to send us out of the cup yet again. It is difficult to identify any of our players who could come out of this game with any great credit.
JT did okay I suppose, Jimmy actually put himself about a bit (to no great purpose), and Eidur did reasonably well once he came on (scoring a perfectly good goal and missing an easier opportunity). But I personally would have them all in for extra training and give them all a kick up the backside.
Bitter? Maybe. Thoroughly fed up? Absolutely. The reality is that we had more than enough chances to win this game comfortably. We have been undone, once more, by our inability to beat a bunch of diving, whining and arrogant players from the dirty part of London.
Maybe if someone could teach Zenden to defend, maybe if Morris would get lost now and save us a few quid, maybe, maybe, maybe.
We need to seriously start planning for next season otherwise we face another nine months of torture. In my view we appear solid in defence (although last night might suggest otherwise). We need to buy (rent or lease) a quality central midfielder so Lampard isn’t left carrying the entire weight of midfield himself. We also need to have a long and serious look at our forward line and whether Jimmy should continue to earn enough money to buy more stupid white boots.
Let the clearout begin, and – in order to start a debate – here is my list of players to say goodbye to – Bogarde, Hasselbaink, Zenden, Petit, Morris, De Lucas and maybe even Stanic.
We should get at least £35 for that lot. Perhaps we would be better off investing the money on some nicer ashtrays in Drakes. They would prove a sight more useful.