I want to start off this post on a positive. Sure the loss in a derby never sits well with me, and I definitely expected more from the team, but this result is a badly needed wake up call for our team. Do we have some talented players? Absolutely? Do we have a good team? I think so. Is our team ready to be a top three team in this league? I’m afraid not. Yesterday’s loss exposed a lot to the fans, the players, and Dellas and while its unfortunate that it happened against PAOK, I’d rather it happen early in the season against PAOK, rather than later in the season against a team like PAO or Olympiakos.
I didn’t get to watch the game again, but I managed to follow it and the commentary the entire time just kept getting worse and worse. I really can’t say what was to blame the most. Was it the pressure of playing a derby in Toumba, was it a little too much confidence going into the game, was it Dellas’ formation and player choices? Who knows. I personally am not going to place much blame on Dellas. From what I was reading on the commentary, our players were capable of pretty much nothing on the pitch compared to PAOK. We barely won any 50/50 balls, we were sloppy defensively, we couldn’t hold on to possesion, and when we did manage to get the ball we weren’t able to do anything with it going forward.
What scares me a lot is all this sounds a lot like how we were in our 0-0 draw to Xanthi earlier in the season. I certainly hope not. This is not the 2nd or 3rd division anymore. Every sloppy game we play, we will get punished for it.
What I’m struggling to understand from our performance yesterday is how the entire team, aside from Baroja (I shudder when I think about what the final score would have been had we had a different keeper in nets), could all simultaneously have such a bad day. Even Johansson, who is normally such a rock for us in central mid, was doing nothing at all. When the entire team is off there game, I can’t help but feel like there is some overall psychological factor at play here. Sure it was our first real derby, but I can’t really see how that is any excuse. Many of these players here played during our 1-1 against Olympiakos in Karaiskaki, and those who hadn’t would have played derbies in other leagues at some point in their careers.
I can’t imagine over confidence being a factor either since to be honest, the team really has no reason to be overly confident in themeselves. Sure they’ve had a few decent performances against the smaller teams of the league, but they’ve yet to really prove that they have what it takes to be in the top three of the league, let alone the best.
I don’t know, I’m lost for words really. But, like I said above, its a good wakeup call for the team, and I’m sure we’ll rebound from it. I know we have a defense capable of being organized and stopping any attack in this league, I know we have a midfield that can break up plays and start them, and I know we have the attack required to score a few goals. I’m not worried, I’m really not. If we have a few more games like this, maybe I will start to worry a bit. But we’re still a new team, a team that’s still trying to figure things out.
Unfortunately the highlight video on nova’s website doesn’t seem to be working, so I’ll post a video of the goals here from youtube in the meantime: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXj9WDgeRLs
A couple things worth noting from the video: 1), as the commentator mentioned, before our goal we had only three chances, all of which came from set plays. Shows just how lackluster how offense was. 2), we wore our alternate kits today, and I gotta say they look pretty gorgeous in my opinion. Nike is definitely a keeper as far as I’m concerned. I’d rather they keep things simple but with good colours, the way they seem to be doing so far, compared to the overly complicated and ultimately unconvincing designs Puma gave us a couple seasons.
Something else to note from the game is that Simoes seems to have picked up an injury. Not sure how serious it is yet, though I do know that he missed today’s training session. I’m really hoping its not too bad, losing him would be a pretty big blow to the team.