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Look Wot You Don

Guess pre-season really was all about fitness…

OK, I’m not going to do what Erik Samuelson did in his book and make song titles a regular feature.

But for those digging out the Slade single right now – we know just exactly where to be, indeed..

True, you can’t judge how a season is going to be after just one game, no matter how good it turned out.

And coming from behind away from home is always a good feeling, no matter when it is.

As you might have known, but almost certainly don’t care, your editor was at Selhurst Park** yesterday.

** – it really hasn’t changed that much, by the way. Even Doneagles is still there with the name.

So I was following it from afar, and the most telling thing is – when we went 1-0 down I was more annoyed than dejected.

I won’t say I knew we would equalise, but I did know that we’d give it a damn good go in doing so.

Sometimes, that’s enough.

We’ll need to tighten a few more things up as the season gets going, and one of them will be focusing after the break.

That’s not a new issue, neither is going behind to begin with.

But while going 1-0 down has lost us the game too often in recent years, at least now we know our heads won’t drop.

It felt a bit of a poor goal to concede, judging by the Sky Sports highlights. But at least it did kick us up the arse again.

Our equaliser was a thing of beauty, it has to be said. Not so much Assal’s finish, as good as it was, but the long ball and muddled scramble in the buildup.

But then, a bit of tenacity and a touch of good play at exactly the right time can take you a long way in League One.

Actually, I’ve noticed something about the goal celebration – there wasn’t much of one.

It was a bit “there’s a game to be won here”, which is a damn good attitude to have if it’s genuine.

And win the game we did. A decent free kick by McCormick, and with luck he’ll net a few more like that this season.

Anyone notice the Euro 2020-esque man-on-the-ground approach Doncaster did to their wall? Fat lot of good it did them.

I want somebody to figure out how to make the wall fall over any player who does that, and score from it. Everyone will stop doing it straight away when they do.

Back to McC’s winner, and a bit of a different celebration this time round, but you just know our new signing is going to be extremely popular.

And will no doubt get sold to QPR in January for some Luncheon Vouchers and a Hoops-branded pen.

Perhaps just as pleasing as all that, we managed to see the game out without too much drama.

And really, that’s all you ask for. If you can’t have a squad full of quality, do the next best thing and be organised.

Yes, Doncaster weren’t special but a lot of teams in this division aren’t all that. Even when things get going, that will still be the case.

A well-drilled unit, with enough talent in the right areas can survive quite easily in League One, and it’s no coincidence our form upticked when we started doing that last season.

It’s not going to be like this every week, of course. Our lack of fire power will bite us on the arse at times, and some weekends we’ll be picked apart.

But there’s now enough in this particular squad – this unit – where you’re not so worried if we are.

We did need a good performance yesterday at the Keepmoat, because of the shite pre-season campaign.

I do wonder if losing to Scunny was a bit of a wake-up call going into the new campaign.

But we started to perform when it actually mattered, and you’ve already forgotten we lost to Dartford and Woking.

It’s tempting to get carried away after just one win, but already one senses that we’re starting to pick up where we left off in 20/21.

We are definitely weaker without Piggy, all teams who lose a 20+ goal striker will be, but perhaps goals will come from a wider range of players?

Neither Assal or McC are strikers, put it that way.

There is something a bit poignant about winning at the Keepmoat, because it’s been where the current mood of the support has been obvious. A temperature test, if you will.

It’s long been deleted on social media, sadly, but your editor still remembers the reaction there in November 2018.

That was when Bassey was in interim charge, inbetween Ardley and Walter, and as SW19 put it then:

You can’t blame anyone who watches us even semi-regularly to be totally fucked off now. That I think explains the post game reaction here, which if anything was even louder to listen to in the flesh.

And while I didn’t join in, I do not blame anyone who did one bit. I happen to know some of them, and they put their money where their mouth is – they’ll the ones who will be there for Halifax or Morecambe at the god-awful kick off time.

They’re there most games, if not all of them. They’re the ones who face the train delays, the motorway hold-ups, who pay their money (which they may not even have), and they’re the ones who see these alleged professional footballers shit the bed once too often.

They’re not stupid. In fact, they’re a lot more wise than some of the people condemning them.

Now compare and contrast to August 2021, and this post-game reaction. Yesterday was as genuine as it was almost three years ago.

Watching that, something feels right. It may be a false dawn, but it feels different – and in a good way.

Time will tell if Robbo can fully implement what he wants to do, and whether he ultimately is an Academy manager rather than a first team one.

We also have to find out what happens when these youngsters start doing badly in front of a crowd – especially one that is losing their patience.

Right now though, the initial signs are good, and we all hope we can kick on like we haven’t done for so many years.

MR mentioned something to that effect at Meet The Manager last Thursday – apart from that run to Wombley, we’ve fought relegation virtually every EFL season.

While we’ve got the trip to the Valley this Tuesday, where we’ll inevitably go out, we’ve waited a long while for a good season.

To do that, we’ll need a run of good results that make you feel we’re on the right path.

Next week at home to Bolton wouldn’t be a bad start. You know, being our first home game for three decades…

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