The nerves are getting to us


When the Pools’ stadium announcer told us on Tuesday night that 190 Bristol Rovers’ fans had made the trip to Pools it said a great deal about League Two and its fans. To make that trip on a Tuesday night must have meant two days off work for some of them yet, maybe Bristol Rovers fans are the lucky ones. At least, they have three clubs close at hand (Plymouth, Exeter and Yeovil) whereas Pools fans have some real trips to contend with.

As far as I can work out there are only five League 2 clubs north of Birmingham – Carlisle, Mansfield, York, Morecambe and Notts County and, with the exception of York, they’re not exactly down the road. Come on, Gateshead – do your stuff!!

And so to the Bristol Rovers game. They arrived at Pools below us in the league table and there was optimism that we could overcome them at The Vic. Darrell Clarke must have thought it was his birthday and Christmas rolled into one. Not for the first time have our ex-players come back to haunt us. I had a sense of foreboding after about ten minutes. It was difficult to work out how Bristol Rovers could take us apart so easily. They were up for it and the end result was an indication of their superiority. The midfield was totally non-existent and kept putting the defence under constant pressure – so much so that the nerves were starting to jangle.

The nerves even started to affect Adam Bartlett and we couldn’t get a safer pair of hands in the League. Where we seem to have a problem is that when key players are missing then we struggle. Michael Woods and Carl Magnay have both been out with suspensions and on Tuesday night Brad Walker certainly didn’t put Woods’ place in any danger. I have a feeling that teams have worked us out and apply the pressure from the go. They know that if they can sneak a goal then there’s little chance that we can pull things back. The fans start to get restless and the encouragement ebbs away.

Last Tuesday, when Bristol Rovers scored their second goal some supporters left the ground. They voted with their feet. Despite early promise, we don’t seem to be threatening teams with our strikers. Ronnie Moore seems to have identified the problem – shoot on sight. How often have we seen the ball played across the penalty area when a shot might bring results. After all, on the law of averages some will finish up in the back of the net. I’d like to see Rakish Bingham doing this a lot more. His pace can certainly put defences under pressure.
"there are only five League 2 clubs north of Birmingham... Come on, Gateshead – do your stuff!!"

Talking of Darrell Clarke, its always interesting to see how ex-Poolies are doing. Did anyone see Scott Flinders' howler against Notts County last week? A safe pair of hands but you always wondered if that could have happened at Pools. Jonathan Franks seems to be getting his games at Ross County and Michael Nelson will be up at Pools later this month with Barnet. As for Luke James, its certainly been a case of the mighty fallen. After doing nothing at Peterborough he seems to be permanently on the bench at Bradford. He would have benefited from another season at Pools – yet maybe his head was turned and he must be despondent at the way things have turned out. Such a shame.

On the other hand, Dimi is going great guns at the Boro. All in all, I don’t think we’re at the crisis stage yet. After the traumas of last season a mid-table position would suffice and there aren’t all that many points between Pools and the last play off place – three points isn’t a lot. Nothing much seems to be happening elsewhere. Sunderland and Newcastle at the bottom of the bog-standard Premier League – start winning matches and you’ll put Chelsea in the relegation places. And we have two boring England games coming up – what’s new?

There’s been so much news about FIFA in recent months that the news about Blatter and Platini doesn’t seem to have caused much of a ripple. Maybe too many people are paying attention to the Rugby Union World Cup.