The rot started with the Carling Cup final and it continued yesterday with another two dropped points in the league against a mediocre Blackburn eleven. One has to see yesterday's performance in context of our recent sloppy run, it cannot be taken in isolation if one is to understand the root of our failings this season.
Having seen the lack of determination and drive yesterday it cannot be denied that our players have become too complacent, they seem happy to put in average performances and don't fight as if their lives depended on it often enough. They don't seem afraid of not giving their all, they need to know that if they don't put in 100% they will be hung, drawn and quartered, they need to be motivated by some fear. We seem to have a culture of complacency, a squad with too many overpaid and average players.
Bizarrely Andrei Arshavin was taken off for Cesc Fabregas, the little Russian was arguably our best and most motivated player, while the persistently unfit and lacklustre Fabregas seems to have become bigger than the club, immune from criticism after recent consistently poor performances. Would we be playing the dodgy 4-3-3 formation if we did not have Cesc? Maybe this question should be for another day, but I still feel that Cesc has not done enough over the course of the season, and his overall contribution, especially in terms of work rate and defending has not been adequate.
The momentum we had has dissipated ever since the loss against Birmingham. The main reasons for that defeat seemed to me to be the lack of quality depth in our squad and a naive tactical approach that left us outnumbered in the midfield, obviously this was combined with a bit of bad luck and some poor finishing. Yesterday our tactics didn't seem to work as well, Blackburn were always going to sit back with men behind the ball and our 4-3-3 system with a lone RVP up top didn't give them enough to think about defensively. Maybe I am naive in craving for more of an orthodox 4-4-2 system but this is what by gut has been telling me for a while.
I'm not a boo boy myself, never have been and never will be, but there are some obvious reasons for the frustrations that a lot of fans have at the moment. It is time for a change at the club, I hope Arsene can be the one to make the changes, but if he does not given time then a new manager must be sought. Arsene at least is seeing the wood for the trees, he noticed just how poor the performance was yesterday and that is encouraging.
Still, if we were gifted soft penalties and free kicks, and if our players were rarely sent off for last man professional fouls then we would probably be a few points clear of the deeply average United side that currently leads the league. United's side is so mediocre it hurts, yet with the help of referees they turn defeats into victories on a regular basis, it will be almost impossible to catch them now after these three wasteful draws. The penalty against Upson yesterday was an utter joke, in stark contrast a raised Blackburn arm that blocked an Arshavin shot in the first half was far more of a penalty and wasn't given.
The league this season has been dominated by the mediocrity of the 'top' sides. We have been erratic, Manu have been patchy and have never flowed, Chelsea have never been consistent enough, the winners of the league this year will surely be the the most average and unimpressive side for many a year. It is just so frustrating that we have repeatedly thrown away the chance to make that trophy our own, when everyone around us has been failing to convince. Things have to change this summer and if they do not then more the same is simply an utter inevitability.