Well.. first thing for me was the starting line up. Kind of bewildering that both Fraser and Forrest were absent, given that our best hope was going to be catching them on the counter.. yet we left our pacey wide men on the bench. I like Clarke and want him to do well, but this was a very strange decision, no two ways about it. No surprise that our best opportunity came when Fraser, Forrest and Burke all broke at pace (and McKenna!?) and involved all three of them.
Marshall - What you'd expect from him. Horrible distribution and made the saves you'd expect him to make. Did spill a few I think he should have held, but not at fault for any of the goals.
O'Donnell - Looked a bit overly frightened of Hazard for the first hour or so. A bit too far away from him, which mean he got left for dead a couple of times. Overall did ok tho.
Mulgrew - Did well enough. Don't remember anything particularly poor from him. Did ok.
McKenna - Couldn't really handle Lukaku. For me this the difference between playing in the Scottish Prem and the English Prem. In the English Prem you play against these type of players most weeks, where as for McKenna it's a bit of a shock and a culture change to meet someone with the strength and ability of Lukaku. Hopefully a good learning exercise for him.
Taylor - A good debut. Offered forwards a couple of times, but mostly stuck to his defensive task and did reasonably well at it. Didn't look like a young Killie player making his debut at all. Did get the ball thrown at him in a couple of situations he wont have been grateful for tho.
McLean - Difficult one. Did some great things, some great tackles and interceptions. But also lacked awareness, letting Hazard and De Bruyne slip into the gap behind him, instead of dropping onto them. And was busy appealing for the corner when he was the closest man to close down Hazard for the opener. Also seemed overly intent on playing out of trouble every single time, meaning he put a few people in crappy situations (notably Taylor twice) by giving them the ball on the edge of our box under heavy pressure. So, a very mixed bag for me.
McTominay - Worked hard, hassled, kept the ball reasonably well. Not the finished article yet, and can't have any complaints about his booking.
McGregor - Seemed to just be tasked with defending in front of Taylor to start with and did ok at that. But didn't really contribute anything else, even when he moved centrally. Certainly not his best game.
Armstrong - Looked lively until his early exit. Linked up well a couple of times, was a shame to lose him.
Russell - Very anonymous. Seemed lax defensively when he was wide, then disappeared completely when moved into the 2nd striker role. Really don't see what he brings to the starting line up at the moment.
Burke - Did well. Ran a lot, put himself about, won headers. Had very little support from McGregor and Russell, especially when Russell moved centrally, I'm not sure they even linked up once. Good at getting back in shape as well, was the first line of defense.
Fraser - Lively, conscientious, why he didn't start is beyond me.
Forrest - An improvement on Russell on the right, and his pace did make a difference. Not sure why he didn't just try and side foot it in instead of taking a touch, but oh well.
1st goal was poor and preventable. Everyone (most notably McLean) switched off and just gave Hazard all the time he wanted.
2nd goal was offside.
3rd goal was probably just tiredness. McGregor should have tracked De Bruyne. McLean should have got out to him quicker.
Overall, the starting line up felt like we hamstrung ourselves a bit. Our best weapons were on the bench, and we all know it. Didn't really answer any selection questions for me either.
Marshall still doesn't feel like the guy we should be playing as he has very obvious flaws. But I think his handling is better than Bain's and do you throw in Kelly against Russia? Seems risky.
Taylor did well, but is still probably 4th choice in his position. O'Donnell was good enough. McKenna's as good as we have.
McLean was hit and miss, but in extremes. He's similar to McGinn in this respect (tho different midfield role ofc). Some great, some awful. At the moment I'm feeling like I want someone who is just reliable in the middle of the park as the slip-ups tend to lose goals.
It's so obvious who the wide men should be that it's painful to think that Clarke needed this game to work it out. But oh well..
Burke did ok up front. Hard working and probably perfect for this type of fixture, or if we're defending a lead. Worthy member of the squad.
A tough game to have so early in Clarke's reign.. and a very questionable lineup. But we were disciplined, worked hard. There are good things to take from the game, we certainly weren't embarrassed and there was no sign of a collapse. I guess the worry going into Russia is we've seen very little in terms of attacking intent so far.. I wouldn't want to be playing backs to the wall and hoping to counter against the Russians, but I guess if it gets a result that's what matters.