The season started like a steam train. The team was on fire – goals were raining in at the Vetch and coupled with some good away performances and talk immediately turned to the championship and promotion. The train has de-railed slightly over the past four games with not quite the return that we would have been looking for and the lack of goals, especially at home, will start to be a concern. We have badly missed key players – too many of which we have had out injured at one point in time – and we are struggling to replace them with players of equal calibre (or maybe vision would be a better word?)
Last night was probably the most disappointing performance in terms of result although I would probably add that in terms of performance there was a lift on Saturday’s game – certainly for the first twenty minutes. We now need to sit back and look at where it is going wrong and where we can put that right.
I have no reservations in bringing this up again as I feel it is something that maybe we should be looking at? We are picking up a lot of niggling injuries. Forget injuries to the likes of Maylett, Martinez and Trundle – these are injuries that cannot be avoided but I wonder if some of the smaller ones can be. O’Leary missed last night’s game through injury – believed to be picked up during the day yesterday. Robinson missed the game through a ‘slight knock’ picked up on Saturday. You will always get injuries from matches from time to time but we pick up a lot. This will be from one of two things. Bad luck or something not being right in between games. If it’s the latter then let’s put it right, if it’s the former then maybe a lucky rabbit’s foot is in order.
Next to me is we are bringing players back into the fold too soon. Martinez has made two appearances of around half hour each in the last two games. Clearly he isn’t fit at the moment. I don’t believe his ability has gone downhill at the moment but he is not the player he was at this moment in time due to his lack of fitness. It’s great to see him back but if one of those appearances had inflamed his injury the supporters would be up in arms and bemoaning bad luck again when in reality we shouldn’t be having anyone who is not fully fit on the bench.
Jason Smith is proof of this. We have used him as a substitute berth for the last few weeks and then he announces his retirement. Clear proof that he was not ready for a return to the game – so why put him on the bench taking up a risk that we may need to use him? Players are either fit or not. Lack of match fitness is one thing but not fit is another?
This season is nowhere near a lost cause. We have reason to be thankful in that those sides that started well with us are also stuttering at the moment and the league table is starting to bunch up again. Couple of wins could see us back up at the top but on the other side a couple of defeats could see us slip out of the play offs. We need to take a long hard look at the squad and see where we desperately need some cover and it is time for Mr Flynn to dip back into the loan market. The signing of Wilson has not helped us – he is not the player you would expect from someone who commanded a Â£1m transfer fee. We have a lack of depth at the back – highlighted when we have to move a midfielder there when one of the first choice pairing is out. And add to that we have a lack of strength up front although there were positives in the performance of Mark Pritchard last night. But asking him to deputise for someone like Lee Trundle is a big ask for anyone let alone someone at seventeen on a first team debut.
We hear strong rumours of Alan Tate being brought back to the Vetch for a loan spell – good news if it happens to help strengthen the numbers available at the back.
What we have seen in the last few weeks is not that the beginning of the season was a flash in the pan but what we are capable of. We need to be looking at the players that aren’t cutting it and wonder whether we have a place for them at times of crisis. Now is the time for the players we have available to make themselves known and show that they want the highest level of football possible. It’s not the time now for a lack of committment or effort but for 100% of both. Many of the players that finished the game last night know that there is someone better to come in for them when fit so they have to look to earn their place and make life difficult for Mr Flynn when the natural replacements become fit. Andy Robinson did it at the start of the season – Kevin Nugent did the same. We now need the Durkans and Coates of this squad to stand up and show that they have the ability that the manager believes they have.
Most of all we need the support to remain behind the team. Attendances are dropping and will continue to drop with results like last night. A sad state of affairs but a harsh reality. The players need our support. We should be debating performances and the like after games – here and in the pub – but for 90 minutes we need to get behind them. Let’s not let the club waste the start they made to the season – we can still celebrate promotion next May if again we all rally together.
Players, management, directors and supporters all pulling in one common direction with no strays?
WHO ARE WE?