Woop, woop, we’re going to win the league etc.
What a rather pleasant afternoon Republicans 2 Royals 0 turned out to be. A typical pre-season day weather wise, playing well, winning and against a team in a higher division too.
It almost makes up for the horseshit at Dover and Margate. I said “almost”…
To be fair, it seems that the few days in South Wales did us a lot of good. We had more shots on target in the first 20 seconds than I think we did in the entire game this time last week.
OK, our fitness is still behind everyone else, that was certainly the case today, and we got stretched a bit too much in the first half. But it looks like things have come together a bit more.
Which they needed to, as we all know.
But apart from fitness (obviously), one thing you want to get from PSFs is a sense that you’re going in the right direction. We all know what happens when you don’t…
The game? Well, the first goal seemed to catch everyone out, including the Reading defence. The visitors went up a gear, although for a Championship side they looked a bit shit up front.
Our second goal was a tad against the run of play, like you give a fuck. Quite pleasing that the goalscorers were two of the new guys, naPoleon and Parrett. One hopes that they don’t suffer the Derek Duncan Syndrome™ **
** – for the uninitiated, the DDS is in tribute to one Mr D Duncan, who had an excellent pre-season then shit the bed when the proper games started. Gone, but certainly not forgotten – at least at SW19 Towers.
As for the second half, Shea made a great save, we could have netted a third, and otherwise it was the usual getting-the-minutes-in type stuff.
We’ll be doing more of that this upcoming seven days, as four games in that period will test bodies, minds and in the case of supporters wallets. Worth remembering, the season starts in a fortnight today…
Plus points: We won. Clean sheet. Played well. Looked fitter and sharper from the first two games. Good finishes for goals.
Minus points: Midfield still gives the ball away.
The referee’s a…: I’ve come to the conclusion that you only ever pay attention to an official in a PSF if he absolutely drops a bollock. As I can’t remember anything he did, assume he didn’t.
Them: We all feared the remake of THAT 7-0. Thankfully, this time they came nowhere near to obliging.
Come to think of it, if I was one of their fans I would be slightly concerned that their performance isn’t hiding some deeper issues.
According to their website, it was a more experienced side. According to others, they’ve had a week of extra training, so if anyone should have won by a couple of goals, it was them.
But in the second half in particular, they faded. As for Stam as their manager, why do I get the feeling he’ll be gone by about Xmas?
Point to ponder: Just how good was it to sign Darius Charles in the summer? We’ll need him to be a) fit, and b) good next season, as we visibly look stronger with him.
Whether we’ll sign Kelly or not I don’t know, although two games and a training camp with him involved suggests we’re serious about him.
NA has reportedly intimated that on BBC Radio London after the game, so providing he doesn’t drain the wage bill, I won’t be surprised if he is a squad player next season.
We do need that one extra striker up front, and to be honest unless somebody comes up who ticks every single box (including not having to tie them down for three years) a loanee sounds the best option.
Oh, and that Bobby Zamora rumour that keeps doing the rounds? I’m still surprised how a few haven’t twigged it was a piss-take by somebody bored.
Not that he would the sort of signing NA would make anyway (although TB would have, and in the case of Marcus Bent actually tried to do). Wages, motivation and whether he would simply fit in makes this a strange rumour to even create.
If we are going to spend more money, it will be on getting Taylor onto a better deal. And besides, at least when we signed Akinfenwa there was a point to it…
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) There was a Franchise fan – or sympathiser – near us, who found people moving away from him very quickly. To the surprise of nobody, he looked a nailed-on nonce. 2) Serious discussions about whether hiring a room in the Frenzydome Doubletree hotel counts as going into the ground. Well, I assume that’s what they meant when somebody suggested inviting 20 or so blokes into his bedroom, anyway. 3) Nightingale’s technology optimization device. Which is NOT a sports bra. Honest.
Anything else? One thing I like about PSFs is that rather hollow bit of satisfaction when you read other scores from sides in our division.
I know that they are completely meaningless, but reading around you pick up some areas of concern from other clubs that would shit our lot up if describing AFCW.
Some clubs (Gillingham) seem to have injury issues already. There’s the usual case of some clubs struggling to adapt (Charlton were “toilet” today, apparently), while others had good games against Championship/PL ones.
While writing this section, NA’s post-match comments came up, and this caught my eye:
Mentally it is tough to come back from only having a break for a few weeks, but we had a chat and said that no one is going to feel sorry for us. There are 30 points to play for in the first 10 games and we have got to get that extra momentum back quickly.
NA does seem aware that you can’t switch on immediately in a competitive fixture when you’ve been lethargic for the warm-up games.
In our case, we have that momentum throughout the club, and losing it could prove pretty nasty early on. But if you support Charlton for example, with all the off-field shit they’ve got – you would start fearing the worse already.
Especially if, according to their forum, they have a thin squad as it is. Momentum can work in a negative way as well as a positive one, after all.
So yes, it’s only pre-season, and none of it matters once the first proper game kicks off. But I bet there will be some teams who will struggle in 2016/17, will look back to this very month and think how the warning signs were there back then…
So, was it worth it? A nice day, and we win? Nah.
In a nutshell: Roll on Palace.