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I'd swap Ireland and Elano round. I think Elano is at his best in the centre, and he can link up with Robinho more. I also think that Ireland's pace will be of more use on the right. Hopefully this will be the game that turns around our away form. I don't understand it at all. We seem to have the players to play a perfect game away from home, but we're completely useless.
 

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The irritating thing for me is our sudden inability to break teams down. We absolutely ripped teams to pieces in the first half of the season, and while it was exciting, I was saying back then that we really should sacrifice that attacking flair for a more defensive style, which is hard to break down, even if it meant fairly boring football until next season. That way, each player knows his defensive responsibilities before he's allowed to go off on one. It's what Jose did at Chelsea and Rafa did at Liverpool (and even Moyes and O'Neill have done) with great success. Actually, Sven did that last season. We were a counter-attacking side last year. We seem to have sacrificed the attacking football, but have still completely failed to organise the back 4.

I've got to agree with you TGO, it has to be the manager's responsibility. Set pieces have been a problem all year. The defence has constantly looked exposed, in part because the players in front of them aren't able to play possession football yet and lose it a lot, but more importantly, because they don't seem to know where they should be when they do lose it. On paper, we have one of the best back lines in the league, and one of the best DMs I've seen covering them (I think De Jong looks excellent btw). There aren't many of our players I would swap for someone else outside of the top 4. But it's telling that probably the best young defender in England is completely lacking in confidence, and has failed to be selected for the England squad. And it's more confusing that anything else. Nobody can deny that pretty much every signing Hughes has made has been excellent. And nobody can deny that his Blackburn side was one of the most difficult to score against in the league. If it wasn't for these two facts, I would've completely lost faith in his ability to turn things round before the end of the season. Maybe it was because of the limitations of the attacking players he had at Blackburn (no offence), that he was forced to build from the back. At Man City, he's come in to a team with loads of flair and attacking talent, and he's failed to put the structure and discipline of the team in place first. Even if it means shouting at Robinho for not being in the right position to defend at a particular time.

We have the players to defend well, so it's up to Hughes to sort if out. We should be a perfect counter-attacking team. Better than Villa in fact. So let's use these difficult away games to organise the team defensively, and hit them on the break with the pace of Bellamy, Robinho, SWP and Ireland, along with Elano's long passes. But first you've got the defend the set piece that gives you the counter-attacking opportunity. They're all Hughes' players now, so there is absolutely no excuse between now and the end of the season.
 
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