→ Yesterday’s piece on Phil Brown using Jozy more.
Well, first, a big thank you to our readers. I had the luxury of reviewing all your comments before this evening’s Hull City-Manchester United replay on FSC. If you must know why I’m watching the 2nd showing, I was in transit back to the Left Coast via a frisking at JFK–sure was fun.
Here are some off-the-cuff bullets having just finished the game:
♦ Steven Hunt and Rafael missing ridiculous gimmes…at the 33rd, are you kidding me?
♦ “Berbatov hits the side of the net” — let’s just make that permanent saying once a half. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
♦ It’s about time they start calling #10 for Manchester United, Rooneyaldo, no? Exquisite day, minus the back pass, for England’s main thoroughbred.
♦ And if you watched Hull’s pitch personality, you’re pretty damn sure that they have done the exact opposite of quitting on Phil Brown. That’s a team with some serious fight in them.
Now on to Big Jeezy
First, it’s important we reset the stage for this game and Jozy’s last month or so.
Hull City comes off an away loss at Arsenal where they has absolutely nill in the way of offensive play, especially in the 2nd half. As we mentioned in our last piece, Manager Brown went with a 4-5-1 with Fagan as the ball tracker up top. The Tigers attempted to strike from the corners, but as soon as Geovanni and Hunt tired, Hull had nothing and in case defensive replacements.
Altidore for his part wasn’t in the 18 at Emirates and previously didn’t lift himself off the bench in the game before that. Prior to the most recent two games, JZA was a late game sub in a draw at Blackburn going about 30 minutes in that one and was excused from the pitch at the 54 min in the game that Jimmy Bullard got injured in.
Speaking of Bullard, without him–and Ian Ashbee mind you–Manager Brown has went with a highly defensive midfield of Olofinijana and Boateng in the middle. You could argue that the pairing of Rico and Mikey Bradley are better overall and better offensively then those two. (Boateng was a player in his day.)
Which now leads us to Jozy’s role for the day.
Minus the midfield service, Brown mixed up both his strategy and tactics. Gone was Geovanni on the wing-point forward role for the day. With Carrick and Fletcher in the middle the smaller Geovanni would have been beat up by the Red Devils central midfielders on the day.
Instead Brown employed Altidore in the Emile Heskey target role and ran Craig Fagan off him, relying on Altidore to play in a reserved striker role for up-and-over play to him up the pitch.
Manchester United had to be constantly aware of Altidore receiving and distributing, but also Craig Fagan sneaking in behind them or making a long sprint up the pitch. Want to challenge a disorganized defensive line (Rafael in, Brown returning and manning the center), how about having them choose speed or strength on every offensive possession against them.
So Jozy’s role was target man. In this role, Jozy is not required, nay, instructed not to make the long runs or run willy-nilly all over the field. In fact, that’s precisely Craig Fagan’s job. I don’t think Jozy had too little energy today. I think he was playing the role that Phil Brown gave him–middle of the field, receive the ball. In the first half, he played the part fine.
On to match fitness, clearly JZA wasn’t close to his peak. In my observation, whether he got a cramp or a knock in the 62nd minute, he clearly tired. His work rate slowed and, as many of our readers pointed out, his first touch failed him. It’s just that much more difficult when you have a Rafael or Vidic riding your back and you’re required to hold them off, receive and distribute.
Let’s add the disclaimer onto that match fitness in the form of level of play and confidence. On the former, ever play a team where you know man-for-man they are that much better than you?
Typically, even if you’re in your top form, the story is the same. If you’re on your game and the other team is not, the early going is even up. However, the reality is to come up to the level of your adversary, you’re expending much more energy than them. As the game goes on, you tire, but the other team having played their “typical” game now seems that much stronger and harder to play against now. You’ve over-exerted; they’ve exerted at their average pace.
Well, Altidore walked into that game today, playing the EPL champions with perhaps the best central defender in the game not named Puyol and for Altidore without the benefit of a full 90 minutes. I’m not making excuses for Jozy, but it’s hard for anyone to walk into that game.
It’s why a hitter like Manny Ramirez comes off an injury and does a minor league stint to get their timing back before facing a Cliff Lee. Well Jozy didn’t have the luxury of the starting confidence builder today, he came in against the Cliff Lee of the EPL.
So our overall review of his play?
Given the situation, in our opinion, Altidore played an admirable game and having watched last year’s Arsenal game (and yes one game was away and another home), Hull City looked like a much more dangerous team today, even absent Geovanni. So positive team marks for Altidore.
The other positives? A willingness to unleash shots. A real ability to hold off and turn on one of the best defenders in the game. For the first 45 an ability to distribute the ball effectively. A cross, an earned penalty and a square pass for shots on goal by his teammates.
The negatives? A first touch that betrayed him once he tired. Some rookie mistakes (JZA pulled a Bornstein-against-El-Salvador in the 32nd by failing to clear a ball in the defensive third when the backline desperately needed a respite).
Further–and TSG is the first to admit that running 30 miles on treadmill or 30 suicides does not make up for playing (and coordinating your body) at full speed for a full 90–JZA needs to improve his conditioning. Luckily, if he gets more time, the fitness will come.
If you’re a USMNT fan, hard not be at least basically content with one of the States’ strikers playing the best in the world today, even if he didn’t come away with a score and had some rough patches.
• We said it last week (scroll to bottom). The next weekend review piece would, well, lead with “Maurice Edu in the 18 for Rangers…against
Hibernian.” Sixteen minutes in Edu’s return to the senior squad and a 4-1 win. Edu, “The Man Who May Make Fans Forget Jermaine Jones.”
How did it Mo feel about? Here’s his comments on the official Rangers website.
Next up for Edu possibly? Top quarter of the table participant, Dundee United.
• Marcus Hahnemann playing out his bald, goatee-d gourd on Saturday. A phenomenal showing against some tough shots in Wolverhamptons 2-0 loss to the Liverpools. If you saw the game, there you know the final would have been 4-0 without Hahnemann.
• The Jay DeMerit Comeback Tour is now retired–another 90 minutes and a clean sheet for DeMerit and Watford on Saturday.