And only a couple…
– Two draws in two games, which is all right although not a run of form that will push us in the playoffs anytime soon. Although on last night’s showing, that’s not a bad thing.
OK, the referee was to refereeing what Ian Watkins was to childcare, and how the fuck he missed that stamp on our player is beyond me (one hopes it got caught on camera and can be retro-reviewed).
But last night in particular shows exactly why we’ll be a work in progress for a good while to come.
I’m still not convinced that we’ve fully worked out how to overcome teams like Bury and Daggers, especially when they unhelpfully decide not to let us have free reign over them. True, we’re drawing these sort of games, rather than lose them these days, but one suspects we’ll continue to be sussed out a bit too often for the forseeable.
– Last night felt quite disjointed in quite a few ways, although it was interesting the amount of people before the game who weren’t expecting anything different. I guess this really is turning into a consolidation season, with the mid-table mediocrity we so lustfully craved last season.
Only Smith really stood out, and whether he’s playing to prove a point to Chris Powell remains to be seen. The rest of it was quite meh, to be honest – you could have seen their equaliser coming a mile off (unlike our defence, boom fucking tisch) and it wasn’t really that difficult to think we got what we deserved.
One thing that does seem to be more apparent – George Porter doesn’t seem as beloved as he was when he first came. He’s playing because Francomb has suddenly become shit, but a pre-match conversation with an SW19 reader about him was along the lines of this infamous recent front cover.
(which if nothing else might persuade me to bring back the SW19 front covers that I finally gave up doing two years ago…)
He wasn’t particularly all that last night, although neither was Mo. The difference is that the latter is still building up his fitness, so what’s Porter’s excuse? Unless he’s struggling because the TV cameras aren’t on him…
– Needless to say, the moment that summed it up came right at the end, with THAT short corner. When it fucked up totally and Dagenham broke away, you could have been forgiven for thinking that we’d been transported back to April 1st, and the Barnet game.
Never have I been so happy for a player of ours to get a booking.
To be blunt, our players are simply not good enough to use a critical moment to think they’re playing for Barcelona. We might have got something with a good, old fashioned ball into the box – we definitely wouldn’t have got anything even if we did 90 minutes of tapping it out ten yards…
– Reading NA’s comments after last night, and I sometimes wonder if he’s a bit too quick to blame the players for not doing their job. The guy obviously has very high expectations of the squad, and he’s got deserved praise for how much of a scientific manager he’s turned out out to be.
On occasions however, you have to wonder if he tries to over-tactic things, if that’s such a phrase. Take last night – if he had told the players to throw the ball in the box for somebody to get onto it, a la League Two football for the last 100 or so years, we could have won it.
OK, that may sound primitive, but that very tactic worked recently for a certain highly praised (and fashionable to like) national team. Perhaps more classily done than what we see week in, week out, but since when was League Two ever comparable to the Bundesliga?
Did the short corner come from what he expects the players to do? If so, isn’t he being somewhat over-ambitious with some players who in truth were lucky to escape being Conference players this season?
Does he quite know what he wants right now? If he doesn’t, that maybe why we still seem to start off slowly, because he’s putting caution first and then react to the situation.
And not pro-act.
As he gets more and more into management, as in how it really is as opposed to the academic approach the UEFA licences seem to adopt, hopefully he’ll have more confidence in how to get the best out of the players. Dare I suggest a more experienced boss would have won that for us last night…?
– Enough slagging. At least we’re doing all right and looking a lot more solid these days. All gripes aside, there wasn’t the over-familiar expectancy of conceding late on to lose. And apparently Bury was similar as well.
And it does seem that’s becoming the “norm”. Granted, Daggers themselves are as much of a surprise to the outside world with how they’re doing this season, perhaps even more than ourselves, but you do suspect that we won’t finish much lower (or higher) than where we are now.
What these first few months of the season has proven to us is that you just simply need a bit of consistency, a decent set of gameplans and an ability to scout properly to do well. While having a bigger budget does help, in a division where free transfers are the norm it’s often a bit of a red herring.
I’m certainly not going to suggest we could well be safe by New Year, but we could go a decent way towards that. If you assume that 50 points will see you safe this campaign (make it 55 to be really secure), then we just simply need to repeat the last couple of months at some point in the campaign to do that.
We hit 26 points last season by the 12th January, although our general run of form in the first half of 2013 wasn’t much different to what this season has turned out to be already.
So perhaps the real question is – should we be surprised as to where we are now?
Of course, there’s always the danger of a mega-slump, but I think we’re a bit too mindful of that these days. We’re in a better place than the likes of Pompey, Northampton and Saturday’s opponents are.
Although needless to say, I’m sure Brizzle Rovers will be more than grateful for the guaranteed victory at their place this weekend…