September 07, 2012

A so-so start, but work to do


GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY on the season so far


Won 1, Drawn 1 and Lost 1. Goals for 2 Goals Against 2. I suppose most of us would have settled for that before the season started. Swindon’s wins against MK Dons and Stoke City perhaps brings things into perspective. 

We put in a gutsy performance against Swindon - a very good side - and coming on the back of the 5-0 drubbing against Crewe in the Thingmy Cup, anything would have been acceptable. (I’ve not given the League Cup its proper name as I’m allergic to banks.)
Against Swindon, the defence coped very well with what Swindon threw at us. I suppose we could count ourselves fortunate when Tommy Miller’s penalty nearly finished up in the Hartlepool Water offices but justice was done overall. We didn’t deserve to lose. However, the main downside against Swindon was the lack of support for Steve Howard up front. I’ve not seen anyone dominate proceedings in the air for such a long time but there was no one around to take advantage of his mastery of the long balls. I’ve always thought that Luke James is the one most likely to take advantage of Howard’s superiority in the air and I’d like to see him start, possibly at the expense of James Poole."I’ve not given the League Cup its proper name as I’m allergic to banks"

The Scunthorpe game was perhaps a case of frayed nerves time. Let’s be honest, Scunthorpe created chances and perhaps could have come away with a point. Had the penalty been scored, that would have made it 3-0 and we were certainly not worthy of that kind of margin. We tended to lose too many balls in midfield and so create chances for Scunthorpe. A better side would have taken us to the cleaners. Fortunately, the last line of defence was at its most reliable and Scott Flinders is certainly proving his worth. As someone from the town End put it after the match - “Scunthorpe were a crap side - and Pools weren’t much better”. At least, the Scunthorpe result will have bred some confidence in the side - let’s build on it. Still, the first two home games epitomise what I’ve said before. We put in a creditable performance against the good side and huffed and puffed against the side below us.

The postponement of the game against Orient was, of course, particularly sad, given the circumstances of the traffic delays. Obviously, everybody lost out - Pools (because of their travelling expenses and the overnight stay at the hotel), Pools’ supporters (because of the expense in getting down to London) and Orient (who would have brought in all those meat pies and hot dogs that couldn’t be eaten). In special circumstances, some clubs have provided free transport for their travelling supporters - perhaps Pools could dig deep for when the game is rescheduled.

Looking further afield, its interesting to see that the early pacesetters are Tranmere and Yeovil; equally surprising is to see that Preston and Coventry are worse off than Pools. Hopefully, the away game at Coventry is one of the games I’d like to see. And they’ve started off in style by sacking their manager after only three games. 

Coventry’s ground was, of course, used in the Olympics and one match at the City of Coventry Stadium was the women’s bronze medal match between Canada and France. Canada just about edged the first half but in the second half it was all France, France, France ...I’ve never known a side so dominant as the French were - they did everything but score. Then came the nightmare scenario for the Frogs - Canada nicked it in added time. Just about every French player sank to the turf; they couldn’t believe that the Canadians had deprived them of the bronze medal. (Canada, of course, put the GB women out of the tournament by beating them 2-0 in the quarter finals) As a reward, Christine Sinclair was chosen to carry the Canadian flag at the close of the Olympics for her exploits in scoring a record six goals. Possibly Canada should have been in the final but for some dodgy refereeing decisions against the USA (aka Canada’s Noisy Neighbours). 

Still, none of the women took their shirts off in the final - Sepp Blatter’s not getting any younger, is he? And what about the GB men? It was perhaps written down in the good book that they’d go out to a penalty shoot -out. Some things never change, do they?

It was a pity that the Olympics hadn’t been held in the last two weeks of the transfer window. I have to admit that I dread the last two weeks in August as grown men tend to act like little boys who are getting their first train set on Christmas morning. Who the hell’s interested in overseas players you’ve never heard of signing for clubs in the bog standard Premier League? I’m certainly not and it becomes a complete pain in the butt when you keep getting told how many hours, minutes and seconds to go before the deadline. The amount of money lashed out by some clubs was unbelievable. Is there a recession or isn’t there? Whilst clubs like Pools have to count their pennies, clubs in the bog standard Premier League seem to have printing presses which enable them to spend, spend and spend. I have a sense of foreboding about all this. I was reading some time ago in the press that spectators in the Premier League are mainly in the older age bracket; in other words, they are not attracting younger spectators. Still, all they’re bothered about is television and I am waiting for BT to bombard me with details of their Premier League games. My reply to them will be the same as the cable companies - sod off. One thing about Pools (and other smaller clubs) is that there‘s a good following across the age range. Young, middle aged and old geezers like me. Long may this continue...