Noel Whelan has told Football Insider that our defeats to Wigan and then Brentford have highlighted a new issue with the defence, which could prove to spark an uncomfortable run in the Play-Offs.
The Latics’ comeback in their win at Elland Road began when Ezgjan Alioski was easily shrugged off by would-be goalscorer Gavin Massey in the 44th minute, which left the 26-year-old wide open to bear down on Kiko Casilla’s goal.
The wide midfielder was then able to drift into the box unmarked in the second half to head home Wigan’s would-be winning goal, as both centre-backs congregated to the right of the penalty spot in a failed attempt to stop Leon Clarke winning possession.
Lessons were clearly not learnt over the weekend, as Brentford were then able to regularly press our backline and launch efforts on Casilla’s net on Monday evening, as we went another game without a win at Griffin Park.
Neal Maupay’s opening goal was immensely frustrating from a defensive perspective, too, as the 22-year-old would have been in dreamland when he saw the acres of space on offer with Pontus Jansson miles out of position.
Our 6 ft 4 defender’s efforts were particularly trying for club icon Whelan, who slammed his display against the Bees in an interview with Football Insider.
“The defence has been all over the place and Jansson, he’s been part of the problem,” he said. “Suddenly, we look disjointed and vulnerable [at the back]. Jansson was wrong side and ball watching for the second Wigan goal and for Maupay’s goal. It was schoolboy defending.
“Liam Cooper was a massive miss against Wigan, but he played against Brentford, and his return didn’t have the effect everyone would have hoped.”
If Marcelo Bielsa cannot solve the issues with the defence, along with the attack wasting numerous chances, we are set for a challenging run in the Play-Offs now that Sheffield United edged further clear of us in the automatic promotion race, and all the while Aston Villa gain momentum.