Written by Neil Dawson
Man of the Match against Blackburn
It wasn’t perfect but all that matters on this day of the season is a win. You will never play a team short of confidence or a tired team on the first game of the season and so starting with three points is always a tricky ask. It wasn’t perfect but the team kept at it and ultimately it boiled down to the talent of our squad allowing us to finish difficult chances while their poorer opponents missed easier ones. We looked like we could score, we looked like we could concede – apart from last season that was reassuringly familiar. Blackburn wasn’t the strongest opponents and aren’t expected to trouble the scorers this season but we needed to see them off and we found a way.
Most fans would have been looking to see what was different under new management The first thing was the formation, although we started last season with the same formation to be fair so it arguably wasn’t too different. I will hold my hand up, I’m not a fan. I get it when it’s played with wingers at full-back and I get it when you hold one of your wing-backs and your centre back joins in the attack like Sheffield Utd but played with full-backs and flat lines it’s not as effective and it’s a)difficult to get out without pulling your full-backs too deep and b) it leaves gaps at the far post if the centre back reverts to type. Both happened to us today and a better team than Blackburn would have taken the points. I guess it is here to stay for a while so let’s hope we get to grips with those two things. To be fair to JT the wing-backs really have to be on their strong foot and losing Rico would have damaged the balance as Smith kept cutting in and crowding out Danjuma. It also means two in the central midfield and I don’t think we have the right two players for that as discussed often last year.
Another interesting factor will be Brooks – he will start but not ahead of Stan and Danjuma so JT will need to wrestle in his head how that looks. Danjuma looked a bit weak to start in the middle with his back to goal so I wonder if we will move to a five-man midfield and lose a centre back – let’s hope so.
From a positive point of view, Danjuma looks a handful and the team didn’t seem to have a relegation hang-over in terms of attitude. There might have been gaps in quality but the effort and attitude looked good. I would imagine we are looking at a keeper, a centre forward and a wide player – or possibly a cover left-back. If we add quality in those positions to what is a very strong starting line up for this level of football it could be a very good season indeed. Good to be back – loving the absence of VAR but boy do we need to get back in the ground….