So it turns out I am indeed feeling a little better after the weekends result. The "not-flu" has not quite gone, but is definately going, and the Whites put in a respectable, if eventually unsuccessful, performance. It's something to build on, and a sign that maybe there is still one last twist in the tale of this season.
Strange that reverting to the loathed 4-5-1 formation * seemed to have worked much better than previously. With Montella banned for 2 more games, and our sudden influx of midfielders, maybe this is how we'll see the season out. Both Davies and Radzinski were very busy throughout, and the Diop/Smertin/Brown triad seem capable of imposing themselves on any team. The down side is the effort required by the lone striker, and the lack of opportunity for someone playing in that role to score. Big Brian is certainly no shirker, but he needs a lot of support for this system to work. It's not hard to work out that Brian will win a lot of ball in the air, but we need to ensure we have players who can get to the second ball to create chances or score. If we are going to turn this season around we need a similar performance against Villa on Saturday, we won't have many better opportunities to win 3 points so we need to grasp it while we can.
* Subsequently realised we actually played a slightly narrow 4-4-2 in this game with Radz back as a striker. I think Diop may have covered the left flank, which all seems a bit strange, but Ferguson noted this as being one of the reasons we did so well against them.