I’m of a slightly different mindset, I think this division, every few years is just there for the taking. It was 3 years ago, and we missed the boat big-style. With the start we had, and the talent in the team we had a fantastic opportunity to have won this league in my opinion and although its all ifs and buts, ultimately having to chop and change managers so many times that season can only have worked against us and Burton took advantage. Also, there was, and always will be a big question mark over the mentality of that team when it came to big games. Wembley the season before, both legs of the play-offs, the horror shows at Bradford and Sheff U, all “no shows” from first minute to last to be brutally honest.
Fast forward to this season, there are so many clubs that you would normally expect to be challenging that just seem to be circling the plug-hole of mediocrity. Bradford, Charlton, Plymouth, for example. Then you’ve got the typical scenario of the smaller clubs that missed out last season in Shrewsbury and Scunthorpe. And speaking of last season, that was an example of this division not being there for the taking, Wigan and Blackburn dominated and the poor sheep fiddlers, who in another season would have gone-up, couldn’t get over the line.
So to me this could be a perfect storm, ala the first Graydon promotion season. I’ve got no qualms about this team turning up when the pressure’s on, or bouncing back when the defeats come, and by the way we lost a whopping 13 games in the first Graydon promotion season, 3 in the first 6. It was the ability to bounce back that was crucial and Keates will have his techniques ready for those situations, probably copied and pasted from that very dressing-room scrap-book.
As for the other teams that have had very good starts, everyone, quite rightly expects Sunderland and Barnsley to be top two. But i’ve got my doubts about Sunderland. Portsmouth will be up there, but to me there’s real opportunity for some smaller clubs that have got their way of playing and recruitment set up nicely, and we tick those boxes. So too do Peterborough, Fleetwood, and I’ve always had sneaking feeling that Accrington could surprise a few people, although they’ve probably lost a few too many key players.
So personally I think its a wide-open top half. Agree totally we need to have a bit of luck with injuries and suspensions, but I also think we’ve got a bit more quality in reserve than people give credit for. Wilson, Kouhyar, Gordon, and Edwards to come back at some point? And as we’ve seen by the way Morris took advantage of Ismail’s injury Keates definitely has more round pegs for round holes in every position barring centre-half.
I think we’ve got as good a chance as anybody to at the very least finish top-six.