Had 24 hours to take a look back and their are marked improvements and still some irritating issues that need ironing out.
The defence Is not as good as last seasons - Purkiss and Holden aren't as good as Beevers and Smith and it makes the defence look eratic under pressure, you can blatantly see that the centre backs part like the north sea at times, something that I think Holden is at fault for. On the flip side, we kept County out, Brentford previously this season and to be honest, despite conceding 3 goals against Doncaster they didnt really cut us apart. Im not slating him as yesterday he was steady, but Purkiss is a disaster waiting to happen and his lack of pace, clumsy looking run and general play will be targeted by other teams. Grof is turning into a complete liability IMO and a period of a couple of months on the bench and training pitch with Wacka and Mick Kearns is needed - his punch was useless for the 1st and he looked yet again a complete idiot diving for the 2nd, it was right on his back post.
Secondly. We've now seen Grigg in 4-5-1 and a 4-4-2 and it's blatantly obvious that currently he isn't up to anything. Yesterday he looked so much poorer than Bowerman it was incredible. Not only did Bowerman hustle more, but he looks to have more intent, more pace and for a man that's slightly smaller and thinner in build than Grigg he wins a lot of headers - more than Grigg does anyway. For thoose who called Grigg the clubs most natural goalscorer. Bowerman has illustrated twice already this season that he has the best composure infront of goal, 1 time at Oldham when he was 1 on 1 and yesterday when he beat 2 defenders, on his weak foot, before slotting under an advancing keeper with his wrong foot - he's miles ahead of Grigg in all terms of his game, except maybe his fitness.
I've also noticed throughout the side, that as soon as we take a lead or come under the cosh that Flo becomes very isolated and hides away from the game. Now that's not being critical of Flo, as I think he's the best player we've had in absolutely years, a class above and a career at a low premier league side awaits him - but toward the end of last season when Chambers was injured, it was noticeable how our defence looked exposed with Mantom/Cuvelier protecting them. Yesterday we came under the cosh and he barely touched the ball in the 2nd half, he didnt put a tackle in and the defence became exposed. I do fear for the physical side of our team when teams bombard us. Featherstone, Paterson, Grigg, Hemmings, Cuvelier are all little chaps and we'l be even smaller when Brandy is fit.
On the positive side. I cannot believe how many people haven't commented on Taylor?! He was shoe in for my MOTM. Constantly got forward and over-lapped with quality, probably the best attacking left back performance since the days of Danny Fox. He was clean in posession and used it wisely, got forward, provided an extra bit of guile for Paterson's 1st - I thought he was absolutely excellent, as good as any other outfield player on the pitch.
The football we played in the 1st half was nothing short of excellent. Flo was expert, Paterson had his best half in yonks, Hemmings got forward and used his left foot to his advantage, he and Taylor down that wing could be one of the better left sides in the division, certainly in the bottom half. Tranmere fans and the blades spoke highly of him before he got injured. We looked entirely more dangerous going forward with Bowerman next to Grigg, hopefully that'l change to Bowerman and Brandy in the next couple of weeks or even a target man and Bowerman with Brandy off the bench.
The side we have is young and in-experienced. But it has potential, it has more potential than last year's, especially in the middle of the park - an area we've notoriously moaned about for years. I'd say our current midfield of Chambers, Featherstone and Cuvelier is as good as any we've had since we got promoted back in 2006/2007. We are however, going to excite and dissapoint. Their will be afternoon's we expect to win where things will go wrong, their will be afternoon's where we expect a hammering and product a classy performance against the odds. Just like their will be days where we go 2-0 down at home and come back to draw 2-2 etc.
People moan that Smith can't manage, doesn't get his substitutions spot on. I'd argue that he got them spot on and gained us a late point at Oldham and a win against promotion rivals Notts County last week. He doesn't suddenly become some raging retarted blind man within 7 days, he's still learning his trade and for me is showing slow signs of progression, not only in his tactics, but his players and his philosophy of getting not only young lads that can have a sell on value in the future, but teaching them to play football the way it should be played - whilst their earning their trade, something they will thank him for down the line if they do get sold on.
I can tell you alone, Smith would NOT, under any circumstances have gone into the changing rooms at half time and drew out every single defensive pattern possible, told the wingers to hug the touchline and waste time all of the 2nd half, told the strikers to go for the corner after 50 minutes - he wont have told them to try and hold on. It does however seem that the mindset of players these days (Im a sunday league player and I can understand completely) that onc you have a 2-0 lead, the mind says 'right we have 2 goals now, lets play it safe, keep it simple and grind this out' - its just natural. How often do you see on SSN about a team going up at half time, 9 times out of 10 the next word out of the commentators mouth is 'so and so improved in the 2nd half' - which is eactly right. Teams that go down at half time come out with a different attitude in the 2nd half and teams that lead generally speaking come out with a 'we have a lead, lets keep it' attitude.
Smith may have been stupid with his tactics, but he's not Mourihno and he doesn't have 11 minds, 22 legs - so he can't actually control physically what the players on the pitch do, it 99% down to them with his guidance.
Grof 2 - Poor distribution whilst under the cosh, flapped at both goals and needs taking out for a few months to grow his game and confidence.
Purkiss 5 - Steadier, but doesn't convince me - will have some mares along the way
Holden 6 - He seems okay, but without making too many mistakes its noticeable that our defence is more erratic and less solid. He's just come from 2 teams that we're relegated from this league, no co-incidence for me.
Butler 7 - Not at his best, but made some vital headers. The only leader we have on the pitch.
Taylor 8 - My MOTM, got forward well. Showed his class, knows the game and will provide an outlet - excited by him.
Hemmings 6 - Decent 1st half, faded 2nd. We dont get him involved enough.
Featherstone 6 - Looks okay, spreads a good ball but gets caught in possession at times
Cuvelier 7 - Absolutely miles ahead of the rest on the pitch, a top draw championship player - 2nd half he needs to man up and get stuck in.
Paterson 6 - Good first half, woeful 2nd. Needs to drop the Ronaldo tricks and know when to release the ball.
Grigg 4 - Didnt win a thing, provided barely a threat and has no sense of movement. He's a league 2 at best striker
Bowerman 8 - Excellent from him before he tired. Wins his fair share, battles hard and hustles defenders along.
Baxendale - Crap.
Williams - Did he touch the ball?
Hard few weeks coming up. MK Dons will beat us, Portsmouth away, Stevenage away and Orient looking like to have a new manager.