The Season So Far


BILLY'S CONTRACT


Owing to some PPP. (P--- poor planning) on the holiday front I managed to miss Pools' first two home games of the season. Thanks to the internetty thing I was able to keep in touch and read from afar the match reports of all the games that I had missed and whilst at that stage we had not won any matches the Mail was telling us that already things are looking a lot better than last season and that Pools should be in the thick of it at the end of the season. I recall that same paper telling its readers that after the opening game of the season which Pools lost at home to Dover that fans shouldn't press the panic button as there were 45 games left to play.Then as the season progressed it was down to 25 games then 14 and finally dwindled to four games, not to ensure the league title or indeed the play offs but National League survival.

With that in mind I got to The Vic early for the Maidenhead game with the intention of asking my Poolie Friends / Pals / Chorbers / Rarfs / Old codgers and Ne'er-do-wells what was the view from the terraces, or was the Mail talking out the back of its stop press? To quote Eric Morecambe basically I was asking 'What do you think of it so far?' With one exception (one regular who was not present and who had, I am told, already given up on Pools after only two home games saying 'Different players, same old rubbish'. Everyone else I spoke to more or less concurred that we have better players but as a team they have not as yet gelled together or dominated matches and allow the opposition into the game. Pretty much like last season in some respects.

The universal opinion held by all was that even though he had yet to play in a winning side or a side which kept a clean sheet, Andrew Davies is already a candidate for the player of the year and his recent injury is a massive blow, not only for his dominance in both penalty areas, but also for the loss of his experience and leadership qualities on the field of play. From what I saw of him pre-season I would not disagree with this and hope he returns to the side sooner rather than later. I can't help but be happy with the result against Maidstone but the performance itself was far from convincing and in truth Pools did well to hold on to their slender lead.

"If Matty Bates can carry out some fine tuning, some teams are likely to get a good battering"
First impressions of the new signings are positive and they seem to be of a better quality than those that Craig Harrison brought in this time last season. The sluggish starts and finishes to matches might be a case of their taking time to gell as a group as well as coming to terms with and adapting to the 3 5 2 system the manager has introduced.

The following home game against the title favourites Chesterfield was a real test of character especially with the height in their squad and their manager's experience at this level. Even though the Spireites (sounds like a soul singer's backing band) had only one tactic, that of the long throws of Sam Muggleton, which put me in mind of his namesake, a SAM surface-to-air missile, such was the distance and speed his throws achieved. By comparison Ryan Donaldson's throws were like a girl (can I say that?)

The game itself was as good as I have seen in many a season and Pools should have been out of sight by the interval but once again we had to hang on in there as we defended yet another precarious single goal advantage.

So what of Pools so far. At home we are creating plenty of chances but not tucking as many away as we all would like. The midfield looks a lot healthier with Liam Noble running things and wanting the ball all the time thus allowing Nicky Featherstone to go into uncharted waters further up the field and. ..score goals! Nico Muir, Luke James and Peter Kioso so far have been the pick of the bunch. I though Kioso would be a fringe player but he belies his youth and looks as if he has been playing for years.

I am not sure how much punishment Muir and James can take over a full season, more so when they are having to cope with long balls being punted up to them with their backs to defenders and to that end I feel that on occasion we should have a big man up front to take some of the flak off them whilst dishing out some of his own flak as well.

Bates should consider alternating Pools' style of play and instead of hitting long high predictable balls to the front two, also play ball to feet, as with their pace defenders would hate to see Muir and James running directly at them.

Another worry is that with one exception so far this season Pools have only kept one clean sheet. Brutal as it may sound, once fit, Andrew Davies should be put straight back into the side irrespective of how well Myles Anderson or Carl Magnay have been playing.

It will be of interest to see who makes way for Luke Williams once he is fully fit. A word on Ryan Donaldson. By his own admission he did not have the best of seasons last year, but It has got to be said he is starting to settle into his new role as a wing back and has done well so far. With luck he could prove to be as good as a new signing.

In summing up so early in the new campaign, I don't think it would be unfair to say that home and away Pools have not played to their full capabilities and are not running on full steam as yet. That said they are grinding out results even against teams that they are expected to beat which at this stage last season was not the case. If Matty Bates can carry out some fine tuning, some teams are likely to get a good battering which in turn will see Pools regain Football League status.

HOW TIME FLIES

Did I hear this right. Wrexham have been in the National league for ten years. Shocking when one comes to think about it. Let's hope by the end of the season it will be eleven years.

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