If the season so far was a film, it would probably be The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I don’t get carried away when we win, and I don’t get carried away when we lose, and I find that is a pretty useful philosophy to follow given the hysteria which surrounds modern day football.
Yet it seems the old home and away Jekyll and Hyde syndrome has reared it’s unwelcome head early doors this season, which does give rises to both things to be pleased about and things to be concerned about.
The manager has been backed and assembled what looks like a very competent squad capable of moving us up the table, so I can’t blame plenty optimism creeping in after a barnstorming victory over Cardiff. I made a comment after the game, which was received with much disgust, that I hope Cardiff go on to get promoted. My selfish logic is that, if we can beat them and they are the best team, then we will indeed do very well this season. They could just be “this year’s Stoke” however. A team who have fallen from the Premier League and simply do not adjust and have a squad of players who believe they should still be in the top flight.
Time will tell but after some astute acquisitions in the run up to deadline day, the narrative quickly moved on from “we need to strengthen” to “how is he going to keep the squad happy”. I must admit, as a human being (sort of), I get it. Those players did so well against Cardiff and they are quite likeable, it’s not fair for them to lose their places. Unfortunately, after the PNE debacle, it could be argued that none of them deserved their places and any sympathy earned can be quickly defenestrated.
Who’d have thought that watching a video all week of us getting battered at Preston would end up with us getting battered at Preston? As fans, we just have to take it on the chin, the endless taunting from our local rivals as we headed for the gate and took down our flags (though that song was quite good, shame it can’t be repeated!) Let’s face it, we always give PNE the highlight of their season. I much prefer actual cup finals to having fake ones in the first couple of months of the season, followed by a steady decline.
I am fishing of course, but there is probably some foundation in it. What with Preston’s time at the top being a mere 130 years ago now, and with all their near rivals enjoying spells in the Premier League in recent times, it’s no wonder they play their hearts out in local derbies as it’s their only chance of redressing the balance. So, well done (again) PNE, fully deserved, credit where it’s due! And come back when you’ve won a major trophy that you were alive to see.
Fishing rod firmly retired for another week, we come to the ugly part with, well, this year’s Stoke arriving in town. I attended the Stoke game with perhaps an air of resignation and slight interest to see how the rest of the squad performed. Stoke were Stoke: workmanlike, resilient, tough to break down, big units. Whereas we looked like a bunch of random individuals who had been thrown together at short notice. It’s evident from the team selection and subsequent substitutions that Paul Cook cares very little for the Carabao Cup, and neither do I. So let’s forget about this meaningless distraction and try and build up our league form, home and AWAY!!