The sun and lack of wind allowed a beatific calm to descend over the Kassam on Saturday. What with both team and tactics that could have been chosen by an online vote; Yemi in, Burgess out, 4-4-2; it was a strangely dispassionate atmosphere all round.
4-4-2 was not the golden goose it’s been vaunted to be, but it did offer simplicity. 5-3-2 relies on having a good football brain which comes with experience and good training. For example, early in the season, when 5-3-2 was working well, the left hand side was our strength; both Brevett and Johnson understood the system and used it well. Anaclet, on the other hand, struggled and was caught out of position. Now, with the system not working, Anaclet looks stronger because, perhaps, he has more raw talents; pace, dribbling.
Cambridge offered little; they were impotent up front, unable to lock down defensively when they went a goal up. Their aggression was limited to off the ball stuff; rarely in the context of the game.
Where all this leaves us, who knows, but I’m pretty sure my long standing assertion that February is our pre-season; re-grouping and finding form, March will define where our destiny lies. It was always going to be a Anaclet goal or a Tardif back-heel that was going to break the run, rather like in 96/97 a six game goaless streak was broken against Stoke by Martin Gray one of only 4 goals he ever scored for us.
As an aside; interesting article in yesterday’s Guardian by Russell Brand about the sudden dawning of where West Ham‘s season is going. Replace the words ‘West Ham’ with ‘Oxford’ and ‘relegation’ with ‘staying down’ and it could have been written by us.