You have to mix it!
I ACCEPT that in this league, Town are going to play in some scrappy games, but every game Town play seems to be a scrappy game. Considering your pre-season promises to deliver entertaining, passing football, when are the fans going to see some?
I certainly like to play entertaining, passing football, and I think my past record supports this claim, but it’s not always possible.
A number of factors can make it difficult, for example, the way the opposition sets up, the state of pitches and the increasing urgency which comes into matches at this stage of the season.
That’s why I recently said that we may have to “win ugly” for want of a better expression.
In some of our recent matches, we’ve had to face sides who have knocked in long balls, and that means it can become a battle for the second ball.
In any division, and especially the one we’re in at the moment, you have to be ready to battle and stand up to physical opponents.
That’s something I think we’ve become better at during my time at the club, and that ability to mix the way we play is always going to be important.
Saturday’s game at Gillingham was a good example, because I thought we played some decent stuff in the first half, when we really should have put away a couple of the chances we created, but were drawn into more of a battle in the second.
We stood up well, and we only missed out on a draw because of a debatable penalty.
We’ll continue to try and play passing football, and while some say you can’t get promotion from League I this way, I disagree.
I think I did it with Barnsley, and I think Swansea, who are well clear at the top of the table at the moment, play decent stuff.
But if you saw any of their game against MK Dons in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Monday, you’d have seen that they were unable to play their normal game because of the way their opponents approached the tie.
YOU had some criticism for the young referee we had against Gillingham. Are you against the fast-tracking system?
I’m not against it in principle, and I’d like to say at the outset that I don’t think I make a habit of criticising officials, because I accept they have a difficult and very important job to do.
My concern with the performance of Steve Cook last Saturday had nothing to do with his age, but everything to do with the fact that in my view, he got some major decisions wrong, and that arguably swung the game.
Perhaps his lack of experience had something to do with that, but it’s not for me to say, and under the assessors’ system, that should be something the powers-that-be take note of, and take some action on if it’s necessary.
On the subject of young referees, we had Stuart Attwell, who like Steve Cook is in his first season on the Football League list, for our home game against Bournemouth last month, and I thought he was excellent.
We’ve got another young referee in Michael Oliver tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see how he performs in what is another big match.
I NOTICE Simon Eastwood has been on the bench for our last three games. Where does that leave Alex Smithies?
Where he has always been – one of two outstanding goalkeeping prospects we are lucky enough to have at the club.
Simon Eastwood has had a tough time of it this season with his foot injury, but his absence has allowed Alex Smithies to get some valuable experience under his belt, particularly during the matches at Southend and Leeds!
Simon is now fully fit again, and I was keen to have him on the bench for the recent FA Cup tie at Chelsea, because I thought he deserved a little bit of “sugar” this season.
He worked very hard on his rehabilitation, and had to look on when Alex got his big chance.
He is our first-choice deputy to Matt Glennon so, fitness permitting, it will be Simon who is on the bench between now and the end of the season.