The view from the Pu – September
Friday, 4th Oct 2019 15:07 by Steve Hardy
Belatedly, because the editor has had a tough week, Steve Hardy returns with his look back at a successful September for the Super Hoops.
September is over and just like that we’re well in to the nitty gritty mediocrity of a Championship season. Just the three games this month compared to the eight in August and a total of six points claimed, let’s have a look at the good and the bad to try and see if we can get some semblance of an idea as to how the season will pan out.
Shall I start with the blatantly obvious? Can we remember a period of play as good as that first half an hour against Luton? Not since that week under Jim Magilton would I say we’ve looked so good going forward, however this felt a bit different as I can’t remember the Hatters posing any threat.
A real team effort and every time we went forward I genuinely thought we were going to score, add to that the blazing sunshine, a larger than normal crowd and it was a real shot to the arm for a crowd that has had to put up with some real sludge over the last 18 months. My brother is a Luton fan and after the game he said we were comfortably the best team he has seen this season (c Brentford), even at 3-2 he believed we were the better team and created the better chances, just a shame that Hugill decided to spoon them into the upper loft.
Still it’s good to hear praise like that from visiting fans and it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Lumley hadn’t passed the ball to the man in the bright orange shirt because at the time it was like watching men v boys. Let’s just hope Warburton can keep his cool and not end up sticking his nut on someone, if he did though it would be hard to say who my money would be on him head butting, Leistner maybe?
Whilst I’m talking about people head butting people, what a great day we all had at Millwall. It was actually only my third visit - I’ve been to Ewood Park more - but with it being a Saturday I thought why not and it actually turned out to be one of those away days that are really worthwhile. Again a day of blazing sunshine, not exactly the best football on show but a real effort to get the win. After the Harlem Globetrotters impression in the first half the week before the Millwall game felt like a proper muck and nettles win, ground out against a team devised from the minds of Messrs Pulis and Beck and the celebrations at the end said it all. A real togetherness between players and fans, something that you like to see. Also, that video of the Millwall fans after they score and then concede will take a long time to get old.
I want to take this moment to ring the perspective alarm. I know the West Brom game was a bit of a disappointment after the results that had gone before but I think we all need to take a step back and think about where we thought we would be at the end of September when the season started because I certainly didn’t think we would have 16 points or be anywhere near the top half let alone the play offs.
Not that I’ve seen any over reactions online (I’m not on Twitter though) or negativity in the ground I just don’t want people to think that we should be beating everyone just because we’ve won a few games on the bounce. The West Brom game seemed to be a bit of a kick up the arse to be honest, they were comfortably the better team, as I expected them to be, and whilst you couldn’t fault our effort we just lacked that spark and cutting edge. The big question is in how we react and come back from this, the fixtures seem to be throwing up the teams that I thought would be contenders over the next few weeks so hopefully we’ll have a clearer picture of where we are by mid November. No need to panic at the moment though, this season is still going way better than I ever dreamed of back in July, keep enjoying it and keep supporting the boys.
Just wanted to save my final positive note to speak about the gaffer or the bread man as some people are calling him. Without echoing what Clive has written verbatim, I just want to say that I’m genuinely impressed with what I have seen. He’s switched up the style going to three at the back - although I expect that to change with Barbet’s red card - and seems to be selecting players on merit as opposed to having favourites or just flogging players to death. He speaks well after every game and seems to have brought in a real change in attitude around the place. We’re all looking forward to going to games at the minute and long may that continue.
I’ve got a few things that I want to go through in this section but it’s ultimately nit picking, overall I’m still feeling very positive about how things are going. I spoke last month about how I believed that we had fragile mentality and whilst I feel that has been ironed out and we seem a lot more of a team unit we really need to cut out the individual errors. The first goal in the Luton and West Brom games were both preventable and I don’t want it to seem that I’m laying in to Lumley because I’m not, in my eyes he is our best goalkeeper. But he needs to concentrate more and I think that goes for the whole of the back line, I’ve noticed a few times that Manning keeps losing his man. As many have said it is impossible to play with our intense tempo for 90 minutes but I struggle to believe that you can’t concentrate for 90. Like I say nit picking but I believe if we can be sharper and cut out some of these errors then we might even keep a clean sheet.
The only other thing I will mention, and I’m trying not to sound like a bonehead Chelsea fan here, is that I do feel that we lack a little bit of leadership on the pitch. I’m not talking a screaming Roy Keane ending careers I just mean someone to take charge, to tell people when they’re out of position and need to get in line. Listener has the armband at the moment and we have looked so much more solid since he has come back in the time, but there have been times - in that Luton game especially - that I have felt someone to calm everyone down tell everyone where they should be and lead by example to stop any panic. We have the experienced players in the team and I just feel if they can stand up a bit more and set standards then maybe the errors will be cut out. I look at that wall for the second West Brom goal, which had Cameron and Leistner in it, and I just feel that everyone was a bit half hearted, maybe I’m just talking bollocks.
At least we didn’t concede any penalties this month though.
I could easily talk about those incredible role models that Derby County have playing for them but I think it would just be repeating what everyone is thinking, I’m just guessing Uber rates are expensive in that part of the world. What I want to actually say is how good it is to see Gareth Ainsworth getting Wycombe into the top two in League 1, let’s not forget that Wycombe pretty much operate on a non-league budget and to be able to compete in a division that includes Sunderland, Portsmouth and Ipswich is no mean feat. I’ll be surprised if he is still their manager by the end of the season but how good would it be to have an away day back at Wycombe next year? Clean sheets, away days at Wycombe, I’m really setting my goals high here. Keep up the good worth Wild Thing.
September grade – B
Links >>> Follow Steve’s match-by-match reviews on Instagram >>> August 18 >>> September 18 >>> October 18 >>> November 18 >>> December 18 >>> January 19 >>> February 19 >>> March 19 >>> April 19 >>> 18/19 Season Review >>> August 19
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