Nobody walked away from the London Stadium yesterday with any credit, apart from those fans who bothered to go and watch what was an utterly insipid performance.
However, I awoke this morning to see that David Moyes had chosen to criticise Albian Ajeti’s performance. He said:
“I think we would have been hoping he’d have given us a little bit more in different aspects but I don’t want to judge somebody on one sole effort. But he’s been here for how long now, since the summer, and I don’t know how many games he’s started. Today I felt it was fair to give him an opportunity, to see if there was something there and it was right for us, and we’ll assess it. We’ll have a look again.”
Now for context. I couldn’t find the full Press Conference, so I don’t know whether Ajeti was one of many names Moyes criticised. But it smacks to me of trying to pick a fight with the weediest kid at school. Ajeti certainly at the moment doesn’t look to be the man who can score the goals to help us survive this season, but I thought he was one of the few players who actually put himself about and tried to make things happen. Something I couldn’t say about his strike partner Sebastien Haller.
If Moyes wants to pick somebody out for not offering enough, how about starting with that guy? After all, he cost the club over five times more than Ajeti and half the time he looks like he’s not interested in scoring. Sure, ‘it’s not his game’, ‘he’s the link up man’, I’ve heard the excuses, but the cold hard facts are, we put all our eggs in to his basket and he is the one we need to get us out of this mess. So whether it’s his natural game or not, at £45m he has to be more adaptable.
Moyes did reserve some critisism for Haller or rather for the whole forward line. They were apparently to blame for Noble’s miss.
“I have to say that it’s amazing it’s [fallen to] Mark Noble, that we haven’t got other people free, or big opportunities to the forward players we had on the pitch”.
There’s an element of truth in that of course, but again the facts are, Noble had a fantastic chance to level the game and he blazed it over.
Arguments will be made that players like Noble and Haller are key to our hopes of survival and upsetting them may not be the smartest course of action, but Ajeti has only had 3 starts all season in cup matches where the whole team have been pretty abject. Laying any blame at his door is unfair. He hasn’t got us in to the situation we’re currently in. Try telling our £45m record signing that he’s a striker and should try to score a goal. Try telling our captain that he should try to influence his teammates on the field as well as off it. After all, he thinks Moyes is the best man for the job, so he shouldn’t have any issues with him calling him out.