Eight Games In
A few thoughts on the season so far

8 games in to the league season what does it feel like for Wednesdayites? My thoughts are.

First it is pleasing to have the transfer embargo lifted which enabled us to bring in a couple of players in the form of Josh Onomah and Michael Hector. The club and the EFL are saying nothing else about our P&S position, which in one sense is a positive as we aren’t in the naughty boys’ corner with Birmingham City, but there could be clear expectations from EFL about actions we have to take or to not take, we just don’t know until the club says something. Anyway we do know that we won’t be splurging money on a load of new signings in January and player sales to balance the P&S books still look a possibility. Hopefully Gary Hooper can complete 90 minutes for the under 23’s and be in contention for a spot on the bench against Dirty L**ds and Forestieri will be available, but sadly Keiran Lee has to maintain his ongoing battle with injuries after his 15 minutes for the under 23’s.

On the pitch we were not at the races at Wigan; after a slow start we should have beaten Hull, and we were terrible at Brentford which prompted JL to wield the selection knife and convey a few home truths which produced the best performance of the season against Millwall – lots of pace, energy, drive and endeavour. We were ok against Ipswich and just about deserved the win; we were a curates’ egg at Reading and as a result it was tighter than it should have been, and the fightback against Stoke was inspiring but it came after another one of those slow starts which have bedevilled us for a long time now. And last night we couldn’t get the 5th win on the bounce at the City Ground and we wouldn’t have deserved it had we done so, it was another listless performance that lacked energy, drive and work rate and saw us give the ball away so cheaply and regularly.  I accept a mid-table team will lose games but losing meekly without really putting up a fight is not acceptable.

As I said at the start of the season we are a mid-table team that can have ambitions to be a top 8 side, on the basis of the first 8 games that won't happen unless we tackle three things:

  • Be more consistent. After a stinker at Brentford we produced a great performance against Millwall. After a rousing recovery against Stoke that felt like a win we turned up in Nottingham looking as flat as a pancake. The yo-yo stuff is classic mid-table territory and has to be tackled if we want to do anything more than muddle along. This also applies to some individuals too – Palmer, Pelupessey, Nuhiu, Reach and Joao are examples of players who look on it one week and totally off it the next
  • A more positive mentality and on the front foot culture and attitude – making things happen from the start of the game, they can do it, they just don’t do it often enough
  • The defence. I was stunned when JL said he was happy to win games 3-2 or 5-3 which appears to go against all what we knew about his reputation from the Bundesliga. We have conceded in every league game this season and haven’t kept a clean sheet in the league for a long time now. This isn’t about one keeper or centre back, it’s a collective thing that starts from the front and works its way back through the team

Without tackling the above we will continue to muddle along in mid-table at best and I worry that the poor defending could get us into trouble in the bottom eight rather than looking upwards, if we don’t sort it.

We have 11 points from 8 games which over a season would leave us on 63 points and snugly in mid-table. But we could go in another direction altogether – the next four games look to be very daunting and if we don’t sort out our issues we could have 11 points from 12 games (relegation stuff over a full season) and a far worse goal difference than the current minus 2 position. Alternatively a few points and the odd clean sheet against good sides might be a basis for moving forward. Which will we do?

One pleasing thing has been the contribution of younger players particularly Jordan Thorniley, Matt Penney and Fraser Preston, and to some extent Ash Baker - but he has struggled a bit in a couple of games, particularly the collective no shows at Brentford and Nottingham. It’s an enormous positive for other young players to see youth being supported and given a chance by the manager – long may it continue. They won’t all work out and they will need support to find their feet but it’s the right way for the club in our new P&S world.

Off to Villa Park on Saturday – which Wednesday will turn up I wonder?! Only the players can answer that one because I'm not sure that even JL can. We live in hope.

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