Back to basics: Roger Moore scores

Last updated : 18 October 2008 By Roger Moore
I've always been one for supporting young people. Encouragement, from my modest experience in management and as a parent more often bears fruit than criticism. Confidence can be a fragile creature at the best of times, too easily tamed.

But enough is enough.

Some of our young players need a bloody good kick up the arse this week because they've committed a cardinal sin - they've started to believe in their own hype rather than their own abilities and one another.

Today this has cost us dear. And if we don't want it to continue doing so, it's time to get the schoolboys back in the classroom. Forget the three 'R's, it is the three 'B's we now need: basics, basics, basics.

Too often in a bizarre game against Watford, our football was exposed by a far inferior side that simply profited from our mix of naivety and cockiness.

Naïve is perhaps the most generous word that can be used to describe our defending and Jan must surely now accept that a settled back four, including the brilliant Jack Cork is essential.

They must then work tirelessly with Kelvin Davis as a 'back five' and practice defending set-pieces as a high priority.

Kelvin has been a God-send for us this season, but corners, free-kicks and long-throws still leave us more exposed than a stripper on Brighton nudist beach.

This is a basic failure not in talent or ability, but understanding, discipline and processes; who is handing off to whom? Who is controlling the back four? Where is the leadership and organisation? Is this the role of the 'keeper, Captain or nominated defensive marshal?

And just occasionally, our players must accept that safety and not building the next attack is the number one priority. Again, go back to basics; if in doubt, put it out. Stay goal-side, run the attackers wide and then prevent the cross. And on corners, for pity's sake, pick up a man and stick with him. And if the ball drops in your direction, own it. Call and make it yours.

But if we were guilty of indiscipline at the back, there is no excuse for the pathetic attempt at a penalty taken by David McGoldrick. I like David. I think he has raw talent and abundance of skill. He often works tirelessly for the team, without recognition, in a lone role to which I personally do not feel he is greatly suited. He doesn't appear a natural finisher, but that could well come.

Today, however, he was guilty of negligence in the line of duty.

And he must ensure that his 'lazy' laid-back style does not quickly deteriorate to laziness per se. Penalties are a gift and only the lucky or exceptional goalkeeper keeps one out.

Penalty-taking is a skill as sure as putting in golf. It is a skill which can be practiced and perfected to maximise the chances of success. To walk up and chip the ball to the keeper is unforgiveable and much less forgivable than the unfortunate Wotton who picked the blast and found the keeper rooted to his line.

But all is not lost.

David at least has the opportunity to go back to the training ground and work, and work, and work to redeem his performance today. To show the fans that he knows he has crossed the line between confidence and nonchalance. To show that he will not waste the talent that he has been given, by adopting a 'Billy-bigshot' mentality.

He is good, just not as good as he thinks he is yet. And he must now come out and show us the real David McGoldrick - the man, not the personality.

Would dropping him help? Perhaps. I'd prefer to give him one more shot in the starting line-up with a reminder that no-one minds a striker missing chances, or goalkeepers pulling off great saves, providing we do the basics right first.

Low and in the corner or hard and down the middle - what other types of penalty are needed? Really?

I will stress, that I abhor the idea that David is made a scapegoat for our failure to beat Watford. We had plenty of chances to make the score at least respectable and for long periods we were by far the better side, again.

But this is scant consolation when across the park and throughout the team, the basic football lessons went unlearned, the countless warnings unheeded.

So Jan, you've blown enough smoke up their respective arses. Now it's time to call them in for extra training to work on remembering why they were selected in the first place.

Otherwise, far from one two steps forward and one step back, we're actually taking two steps sideways and one into the unknown…