Out of the Valley

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Sat in a field somewhere in Lancashire, the sun beating down, 2 thirds of the way through a bottle of Olde English and wondering whether it’s too early to start in on the Stella. My daughter’s knackered and kicking off, but there’s no chance of her having an afternoon nap because there’s too many other kids about and I’m trying my dammedest to get a signal for Wigan and St Helens’ premier radio station.

Every time I manage to get a clear sound, someone moves and buggers it up. This is a completely alien situation for me. It’s a Saturday, during the football season, I’m not at the game and there’s no chance of me getting near a television until Sunday evening. No Soccer Saturday, no goals on Sky Sports News, no highlights.

I’ve managed to cobble together match reports from radio coverage before but I don’t stand much of a chance this time. All I gathered from the broken commentary I got is that we had a decent spell early on but lost the momentum and from that point on it was mostly Charlton. From what I’ve seen elsewhere the Daily Mirror summed it up nicely in saying that we’re a decent team with plenty of nice approach play, but with no cutting edge.
The reasons behind that are up for debate. Was it the shortage of strikers or do the strikers we do have lack what it takes? Was it the forced change of formation or would it not have mattered either way?

I can’t comment on the quality of chances that were created on Saturday, but I can’t be alone in wondering how we will cope if we can’t bring in a goal scorer before the end of the month. No matter how unproven he was Ellington fitted that bill, whereas Roberts and Camara seem to more in the ‘forward’ mould. McCulloch may have got plenty last season, but rarely looks like scoring when played through the middle. Jewell may not be panicking but plenty are on the ‘terraces’.

More than anything Saturday was a smack back down to earth. We successfully raised our game against Chelsea, but when faced with a footballing side away from home there was apparently something lacking. Having seen both sides of that, Jewell must now be clear where he needs to strengthen, he’s got limited time to do it and is hopefully going to be in for a busy old week or two.

Some people have been quick to condemn the team over this performance, most of them, like me, won’t have seen the game. Even if they have it is too soon to write us off. At this stage of the season our players will still be suffering from culture shock. They need to adapt quickly and the best judge of how well that is going comes next week against Sunderland. We were fairly evenly matched last season and the game will show who has advanced more over the summer. It’s a fair bet that whoever loses that game will be bottom of the table, hopefully it won’t be us.

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