It may seem fundamental to any football coach yet the basic art of passing and moving off the ball seems to have passed Paul Lambert by.
The more I hear him talk about this ‘new playing style’ the more I actually believe that the man is deluded. He thinks that our players making three hundred short passes in our own half is the way forward and, although it frustrates every fan in the ground, he persists with it.
As fans, it is exasperating to watch, as we have to endure slow passing with no possibility of creating chances. Players have to move off the ball yet all we get is Andreas Weimann running from one side of the pitch to the other, not touching the ball.
Gabby Agbonlahor, another totally ineffective player over the festive period, has taken up a central midfield position, which helps no-one. He now drops deep to collect the ball yet generally fails to do anything productive with it.
One of the highlights of the last couple of weeks has been the performances of midfielder Carlos Sancheź. He has been top class and looks to me like the player we lost when Stiliyan Petrov retired. What we’ve seen recently is his ability to pick out a forward pass and he rarely loses possession.
If Lambert wants to make this new system work then he has to make it work around Christian Benteke. He is our main goal-scorer: if players fail to give him the right service, how can he score any goals? We need to utilise the Belgian striker more and get into better positions earlier in games so that we don’t have to pepper the opposition’s penalty area and take wild shots in the concluding minutes.
I hope that Lambert uses this weekend’s game against Blackpool as an opportunity to allow his players to get forward more and play on the attack rather than sitting back and allowing pressure to build. We have to beat The Seasiders and this ‘new brand’ of football, which reminds me of a poor-man’s Barcelona, has to be changed. The Villans simply cannot continue to sit back when they have no advantage on the scoreboard.