…which Leeds us to Derby
LTLF hasn’t been updated since before the Leeds game and you’ve probably guessed the reason for this – we’re in mourning for our season. The unbeaten run is gone, we’ve been found out tactically and the wool Sean O’Driscoll had pulled over our eyes with his fancy football has been firmly lifted. It’s going to be all-out doom and gloom from now on, starting with a thumping at home to Derby and ending with the Al-Hasawi’s being hounded out of the country on relegation day.
Not really! In fact, in a strange way, it’s sort of nice that the unbeaten run has come to an end and some of the expectation around the club has been reduced before it got out of hand. As eighteensixtyfive pointed out on Sunday, better to lose the record against Leeds than Derby, but even more so our first taste of league defeat is a reminder of the challenge this season is going to be.
Only two games in and some commentators were talking about promotion, showing that the mindset MONEY = PROMOTION is still prevalent in modern football despite that fact that clubs owned by wealthy foreigners are, excuse the pun, ten a penny these days. The solution to the old promotion equation still involves complicated multiples of talent, time and hard work, with a fraction of luck to be considered as well. That’s never changed and never will.
O’Driscoll got a hastily assembled side playing very well very quickly, but other teams soon caught on and since the Birmingham game things have been getting progressively worse. Spirited comebacks are all very well and good, but they highlight the fact that our defence is leaky. We haven’t kept a clean sheet since opening the league campaign against Bristol City. What’s more, despite good starts to the season for Simon Cox, Lewis McGugan and Dexter Blackstock, we’ve yet to score more than twice even in games we’ve dominated, so defensive frailties are not something we can afford to ignore.
I’ve no doubt the manager has no intention of ignoring them and over time I think we can hope for improvement. There are already debates to be had over the Daniels Harding and Ayala, but I’ll give them time to settle in, just as I’ll give the defence as a whole time to gel as a more efficient unit. Against the odds we made a positive start to the season and that gives us time to have a few hiccups like the one at Elland Road on Saturday.
That result left us with lessons to learn, for sure, but we could so easily have been having the same conversations after playing Bolton back in August. A month later and we’ve collected a few more points, scored some wonderful goals and generally made what I hope we can all agree has been a good start to the season. I might even venture to say that, considering the circumstances and how rushed our pre-season was, it’s been a great start to the new era.
We go into the Derby game with our feet back on the ground as fans and I hope the same applies to the players. If they had completed a third successive comeback at Leeds then they might have believed they were invincible when really they had just been lucky. On the other hand, it is worth noting the amount of goals Derby have conceded late on in games this season. While we tend to surge as 90 minutes approaches, they often collapse. Hopefully it won’t come to it, but even if (touch wood) we find ourselves two goals behind again on Sunday, leaving before the final whistle is not to be advised…