The King's Feburary
In a new feature to the site, SuddickTheKing looks back on February.
February was the month we had all viewed with apprehension and even trepidation. It was always going to be a tough ask to come through it unbeaten and so it proved. However, the games we lost were possibly not the ones we thought we`d lose! Two encouraging performances against Championship side Norwich City ended in unlucky defeat at Carrow Road. Alas, the wheels started to come off at home with consecutive and frustrating defeats to Brentford, Bristol City and Millwall. Away though it was a different story with a draw (which should have been a win) at Forest and a win at Oldham.
So, what do we make of February then? We can take great pride in the valiant performances at Norwich, Forest and Oldham and believe that we have the nucleus of a good side. However, when we lose a key player to injury (Morrell) or form (Keigan) or suspension (Wes) we just do not have the quality to replace them. We have shown that with a full side we can compete with anyone in our division, which must give Larry hope in his building plans for next year.
February saw the manager make his first significant team changes with the introduction of Rachubka in goal and Danny Coid at left back. I believe that the overall effect is a positive one without disrespect to Kaspars and Rhys. The 'keeper starts with a clean slate (literally - something we haven`t done much this season) and Coidy will hopefully - injuries notwithstanding - play out the rest of the season securing that leaky problem left back spot once and for all. He is like a new signing and a quality one at that.
Last month also showed that midfield could still do with strengthening. I`m pleased with the signing of Gillett and in Wes we have a potential matchwinner. However, Gnashers needs someone alongside him that can deliver that devastating ball and even though I like Foxy and he is 100%, for me he plays his best stuff too deep and doesn`t have the killer pass in his locker. I really hope I`m proved wrong there and to be fair at Oldham he did show in the second half that when he plays in the oppositions half he can be influential.
Up front the forwards are all getting a go and BBB may look back at February as the month he won his starting place.
Conversely, Keigan Parker may look back at it for other reasons. Andy Morrell missed a few games and boy did we miss him. February may be the month that Larry realises he should be first name on the team sheet. Poor old SSV did nothing wrong but ended the month on the bench. It`s a funny old game!
One fly in the ointment though. Promotion sides usually go up on the back of a solid home record. Unfortunately, I believe that our pitch has become a physical and psychological barrier for the players. Blackpool FC had a full pre-season to sort it out from the embarrassing state it was in last year and yet here we are again playing on something that would not be out of place on Lawsons Road. Last year it probably helped us; now it is definitely a problem for our much improved team. Playing one touch stuff is virtually impossible on a surface that is unstable and cuts up badly. Players are having to take extra touches to simply control the ball by which time the opposition have the opportunity to close down and tackle. We don`t claim to be the greatest of footballing sides but we do attempt to play some pass and move and are suffering as a result. Perhaps our lords and masters should pay a bit more attention to the infrastructure of the club this time if they really do harbour any thoughts of progress. I must say however, that the new groundsman - a 'Pool fan I'm led to believe - did a good job preparing the pitch on Tuesday against Bournemouth. Let's hope he is given the backing to really sort the playing surface out.
We now go into March where most fans will look at the opposition and think we have a chance of a much improved points haul than in February. I think we will see the true standing of this side over the next four weeks and I hope that when I write my next monthly review it will be with a big smile on my face.