Here we go again then. The start of a new season. This will be different to last season from a personal point of view as The Boy has his own season ticket with me this season. Mark’s boys are with him too and the six of us have relocated back a couple of rows and across a bit in the WSU. He had been looking forward to the game for days, counting down the sleeps and almost bounced out of the door when it was time to go.
Everything Boy related went swimmingly. We seem to have a train routine established that will allow us to get to the Sports Bar where I can have a quick beer and he can play with his teammates from his football team. In the ground he and Mark’s boys talked among themselves instead of firing off the usual fifty questions (though we later overheard them plotting to “get” the referee after Crofts was sent off, not good for my parent of the year application).
Everything else didn’t. Firstly congratulations to Wednesday. After some extended banter with their fans they were excellent. Big in numbers and voice they backed their team loudly. Their team responded by winning. Frustrating time wasting and feigned injuries aside they deserved it. We were wretched. Everywhere.
The North Stand still seems split in two. On the few occasions everyone joined in together then the West joined in as well and the noise was tremendous. Sadly this only happened about three times. The rest of the time there seemed to be a competition between the East side and West side. Or just total silence. The fare on the pitch didn’t help.
I wrote this frustration up on NSC last night but it is worth repeating here. Squads should evolve. Ours is regressing. Let’s hope Creationists don’t get a look at a time lapse of our squad over the last three years as it would surely prove their point, setting back over a hundred years of Darwinism.
This is what i put on NSC. It now has 42 thumbs up, my personal record.
When you start with Shamir Fenelon and O’Grady in the Championship where once it was Barnes and Ulloa you are going backwards. When you have to play your reserve right back as a left wing back you are going backwards. When you play another ex-devteam squad player as one of two holding midfielders when his major weakness is tackling you are going backwards. When you no longer have Mathew Upson reading the game and controlling the spine you are going backwards. When your answer to this is to put on an overweight, out of favour player with the pace of a snail on mogadon and who cannot accurately pass a bottle of port you are going backwards.
Harsh maybe but my summary of our weaknesses yesterday. And while some may rage at Crofts’ sending off it needs to be compared to the leniency shown to JFC. For me his first tackle was a straight red whereas Crofts’ was a yellow. Certainly JFC should have seen yellow a second time, taking us to nine men.
How did the new men perform? Stockdale looks a little rusty, missing three kicks to the wingbacks and once being lucky to be fouled as he struggled to reach a cross but otherwise he was fairly untroubled and could do nothing about Coke’s brilliant 42nd minute strike. He will come good after some game time and I will stick my neck out and say he’ll be better than TK’s last season.
Hughes is solid. I will be typing that a lot this season.
O’Grady? Pleasantly surprised. Held it up excellently, made a nuisance of himself and nearly scored. Assuming he is the Barnes replacement then we have done well. But he’s no Ulloa.
To be fair it is not the new additions that worry me. It’s who’s left. A squad of players where the seniors are three years older, three years more tired and cynical and who have gone through three completely different footballing philosophies in as many seasons, bulked out by Dev Squad promotions who, by the nature of these things will be a little green and inconsistent.
Things may gel (but not if we use Calde as a left wing back and Agustien as an impact player). We may make signings before the end of August that stun us (and that fit better in to Hyppia’s sort of 4-2-3-1 with wingbacks). I may be jumping the gun, wetting the bed, whatever. But for me this squad doesn’t just need a few additions. It needs major surgery.