So that’s it. Farewell to the Champions League, farewell to Wembley after the CSKA match in a couple of weeks’ time. We were never at the races this season in a group we should have won. The lack of goals has cost us dear and last night, shoddy team play from everyone.
It’s easy to ridicule pundits for outlandish opinions with so many courting controversy but the comments of all were spot on. There was no passion, no effort, no spine, no desire and precious little technique. The only player to escape a scathing damnation is Hugo Lloris. A penalty save and several others which kept us in a game in which we deserved to be humiliated by the scoreline.
Poch deserves criticism as well. The team selection was poor. I know he has to manage fitness and has the Chelsea game to think about but that’s four days away. The duo of Wimmer and Dier looked uncomfortable at the Emirates but had Vertonghen to steady the ship. With the Belgian missing and Wanyama playing in a more advanced role, they were all over the shop.
As for Trippier and Rose, had they not been on the pitch, we wouldn’t have notice any difference. It was just a terrible performance.
Monaco should have been out of sight by half-time but Lloris saved low to his right, keeping the scores level. Inevitably a Monaco goal came and when it did, the only surprise was that it took three minutes of the second half.
If Poch told the players they needed to sit back and pick off Monaco on the break, they didn’t understand. They sat back and watched Sidibe head home from close range.
Four minutes later, an undeserved lifeline. Dele Alli was hauled to the ground and threw himself to give extra drama. Subasic got his hand to the ball but Kane’s penalty had enough juice to hit the back of the net. Back in it and the hope that now level, we could go on for victory.
Hope that last barely 30 seconds.
Almost inconceivably, Sidibe turned provider for Lemar to drill home across Lloris. It looked a saveable shot but if the rest of the team can’t be bothered, why should he?
Afterwards, Poch told the press he was “upset” and “disappointed”. Try angry and livid instead, that might shake the players more.
“Maybe we need more quality in the squad. We have quality yes, to compete in Premier League, but you could say today we struggled a little bit. When you have problems, injuries, it is difficult to be competitive.”
That’s the idea of a 25-man squad; you buy depth and typically, we don’t have the depth. Levy might be good at selling players and ripping people off but the sale proceeds from Bale’s Real Madrid were wasted and it’s gone rapidly downhill since.
We weren’t expecting to win the competition; that without a lot of luck, was beyond us but the knockout stages? We should there, particularly when you think Bayer Leverkusen have won just one game – yes, that one.
“We are unbeaten in the Premier League. We are close to the top. To compete in the Champions League was tough. It is good for us to learn and try for the future. Our project is not finished yet.
“Maybe next season if we are in the Champions League we need to make some changes.”
Jam tomorrow, eh? You’d make a fine Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Closing the gap in England is all well and good but there’s a gap between our top teams and the elite of Europe so we need to think that far ahead as well, getting in some genuinely world class players. Overall, the first XI and maybe one or two others are good enough, but this campaign has shown that there is a strong case for replacing ten of the squad.
That’s a lot more than “some changes”.
The least you could do is end the week on a high and beat Chelsea…