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From second to fourth. Jackson out.

OK, we have a few “special” fans who would read that and agree with it, without any hint of irony whatsoever.

It’s rather strange though that dropping out of the automatic places leaves you feeling just a little disappointed.

Especially in a season where many believe finishing eleventh would be a good campaign.

After drawing 0-0 at Mansfield yesterday though, I think it’s a sign of how expectations have already skyrocketed.

This result was one where perhaps nobody should have been surprised by it.

Good opponents away, looking tired towards the back end of Harrogate (and by the sound of it towards the end yesterday too).

Add to our complete inability to put away a penalty, and anyone who put money on a no-score draw will be counting their winnings.

Seriously – what is it about spot kicks this season? Do we not practice them? Are we forever cursed with converting one?

Are we trying for a new record this season of not scoring one? Like the record we used to have of not holding onto leads, which almost became funny.

I haven’t bothered to check it out further, but apparently there’s been three missed penalties in both the Premier League and Championship this season. We’ve missed four already.

One thing is certain though – if we reach Wombley and the playoff final this season, and it’s a draw after extra time, leave for the station and start planning trips to L2 again in 24/25…

But we’re still unbeaten on the road, and only have one League defeat all season. Which considering it’s now the 8th October isn’t bad.

I think we can justifiably say we’ve had a good start, and that the ten-games-in benchmark has been reached.

If our two main problems have been not killing games off when on top, and not converting penalties, we’re doing all right.

Yeah yeah, couple of losses yada yada January transfer window blah blah if only we had a proper manager etc etc.


While some things could be better (especially off the pitch), anyone who thinks we’re in a bad spot on-field needs to find a therapist to talk with about their anxieties.

Yes, we might fade when we have to call on the likes of Davison and Pell. And yes, we still have the post-January slump to avoid.

I hope Craig Cope and Andy Thorn are already roaming the highways and byways to find a replacement for Joe Lewis, because I can’t see Stockport wanting to leave him with us.

We’ll cross that particular bridge when we get to it, and I don’t doubt all concerned are very mindful of that.

Who knows, we might even be stronger from February onwards? Which would be nice.

As for yesterday, it might have been the most important result of the past eight days.

True, gubbing Tranmere was great, and winning at Harrogate was always a good result.

But Mansfield were, before kickoff, also in the playoffs and they’re the sort of team you have to compete against if you want to call yourself legitimate contenders.

We did all right.

In fact, you do have to think the biggest obstacle this season to our progress is ourselves.

We need to strengthen after Xmas, and you can have your own discussions about who and how we do it.

Do we have the belief to kick on? Not just supporters, but the club itself?

We’re supposedly getting a new MD in next month, to replace Danny “Fucking slag” Macklin, and that’s probably the most important off-field position.

We will need an extra bit of dough come January to maybe persuade that extra spark of a player to join us.

Can we do that? Or will the purse strings once again be tightened because we’ve overspent our budget by about 24p?

Last season, we always had just an outside chance of the playoffs, a fact that became very obvious from the middle of February onwards.

This time round, we’re up the top because of merit.

It would be a genuine shame if it’s decided we can’t (literally) afford to gamble to get promotion come January.

True, we might have an awful run between now and the end of the year, and we’ll be in thirteenth come New Year’s Day.

Although in that scenario, I’d argue we would need reinforcements more than ever.

But just as this season has already turned into a pleasant surprise, it’s also going to turn into a test of ambition.

With the right backing and planning, we could do very well in this division. Most teams are much of a muchness, and we’re fourth for a good reason.

Not to mention how we absolutely fucked up our League One position, which still rankles with me to this day.

We were brave in 2015/16 under Ardley, which got us up there to begin with. Do we have the same cojones in 2023/24…?

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