How Are We Shaping Up?
Well, well, well, another game and another three points; we really seem to have hit form at the right time with seven wins and just one defeat from our last ten. One just hopes that if we do end up going through the playoffs, that we don't run out of gas!
Monday's result was a big one; not only did it maintain our six point cushion over the likes of Swansea and Carlisle (who I didn't realise had been doing that well!), but it also leaves us just five points behind second placed Bristol City. Whisper it quietly, but the Pool could still go up automatically...
Personally, looking at the remaining fixtures, I think we'll be in the playoffs, but interestingly, the pressure isn't on us, it's on Bristol City and Forest; in my opinion, we're under little/no pressure to go up this season, especially after our dreadful start (which looks like it might have cost us automatic!), unlike Bristol City or Forest. At the start of the season I said that anything above a comfortable mid-table finish would be a bonus, so I'm obviously absolutely thrilled we are where we are, but the lads aren't under any/much pressure to go up this season from me (although obviously it'd be brilliant if we did!) and that could play into our hands; if Larry can convey well enough to the lads that we're the ones in the shake up who aren't under as much pressure, then the lads might relax and play some of their best football. Of course, it might work totally the other way and the lads relax too much, but I doubt that very much them being the professionals they are and from what we've already seen this season from them.
If you look at the various messageboards, the majority of the clubs in the shake up envy us and our current form; that can only be a good sign and this stage of the season and you would hope that that's the case come next season!
To Monday's game, and it wasn't a brilliant performance by all accounts, but we did enough to get the win, which at this stage of the season is all you can ask of the boys.
Joe Hart was man of the match for me; to come into the team at such late notice not knowing any of the lads and to play so well was brilliant. We've only got him until one of our three keepers is fit again... on the basis of Monday, I'd advise them not to rush themselves back!
The defence looked solid again; neither Barker or Evatt put a single foot wrong, while I really like the look of Williams and not just because he scored again!
For me, midfield didn't press Huddersfield enough in the first half and as such, invited pressure onto our defence. However, they did much better in the second half, so I guess a few of them still had tired legs from the Saturday. Forbesy sadly, doesn't have enough ability to take us forward; he tries and tries and tries, but he played us into trouble on too many occaisions on Monday after working so hard to win the ball back. I love Forbesy's character and I know that he's not happy with his role in the team (he prefers to be going forward, not defending), but at the moment, that right midfield berth looks like our main weak link (admittedly I haven't seen Brandon play) and it'd be one area I'd look to strengthen in the summer. As for the other three; Southern looked like he was trying to play himself back into the team which you can fully understand at this stage of the season where if you miss one game, it can be very hard to get back in, Claus didn't play at his best, but scored the all important first goal and looks much better from having had a run in the middle, while Wes is looking close to the top of his game... he still needs to learn that it's best to play the simple ball sometimes though.
As for up front, Morrell gave us what we've come to expect, while Parker looked in good knick and can count himself exceedingly unlucky to have been booked (as can Williams considering that none of their players entered Clattenburg's book; the only mistakes the referee made all afternoon) as he was actually fouled. For me though, it was important to see that if and when our strikers don't score, we have others who will; Williams now has three in five for example. At such a stage in the season, that could well be crucial.
Anyway, to finish on a pragmatic note, we need to take each and every game as they come and concentrate on our game and results and not others; if we do and we continue to pick up the wins, then no one can have any complaints. What a ruddy bloody brilliant season!