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Expectation. A good or bad thing?

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Flat Caps ‘n’ Bovril makes his Iron Bru return, looking ahead to the new season and reflecting on a largely frustrating summer at Glanford Park.

Expectation. A good or bad thing? Personally, not so sure. It’s not something us Scunny fans have become accustomed to for the best part of our Iron supporting years, is it? Mr Adkins threw a spanner in amongst all that with his over-achieving exploits on a shoestring budget, catapulting us from perennial basement fodder to an established League One club – oh, with a little help before and after of course…

Let’s be honest, such status seemed a million miles away whilst we slummed it out at Hereford and Darlington during the 80’s & 90’s, and whilst many will argue we’re still punching above our weight, ask any of the newer generation of ‘real’ football fans what’s the first thing they think of when the very mention of The Iron comes up and in unison they’ll say a good, solid, serial challenging League One side.

A Charlton fan stated last year ‘If you finish above Scunny, you’ve had a bloody good season’. Few people can argue with such statements, afterall, the last few years we’ve had a budget to outstrip anyone just below the big boys, and we’ve come close, bloody close, but as we all know too well not quite close enough.

Bottling out of the Play-Off’s two years on the spin has been a gut churning experience for us all, and you really can’t help but feel sorry for Peter Swann who has literally bankrolled a squad that’s been a fearsome foe for literally every League One club spanning the past few years.

But for eerily similar woeful post christmas form, we’d probably be up where he has demanded we be, and who knows what would have happened then, fine lines and all that. Yet here we find ourselves heading into the new season with our weakest squad for a number of years and our best players shipped on to pastures new.

It’s a strange feeling many of us find ourselves experiencing now, a feeling most of the younger generation will be experiencing for the first time. Social media portrays an array of frustration & anger with small pockets of realisation and acceptance.

In truth, this is how we should be feeling given a club of our size surely, isn’t it? The big guns that have left for big money haven’t been replaced, players that complimented the current squad and gave us a firm belief that we really could and should be challenging for a top two finish. The books have needed balancing, and what’s come in naturally just isn’t at the same level as what’s gone out.

It may be an unpopular view, but Neal Bishop could very well be the biggest loss of them all. Far from the graceful footballer that the uneducated will never appreciate, but every team needs a Bish don’t they?. Mansfield now have one and they should be good for a top 7 finish. Do we have a Bish? No. Were we a better team when Bish was playing? Yes. The evidence over the coming months could be telling.

At the time of writing, some 38,000 feet over Austria, prior to take-off and reading various opinions on Twitter, the mood overall seemed distinctly downbeat. However there were signs that a new signing could be imminent. Could it be James Perch (Bish-esque)? He would be a very welcome addition to a seriously depleted squad, and at 32 still has a good few years ahead of him, but whoever it is, such is our position at the minute, literally any signing is badly needed.

Witnessing the friendly against Lincoln left an emotion tinged with sadness. Most of that side will be starting the game against Coventry, and although yes indeed it was only a friendly, there was very little on show to offer any real hope for the season ahead. However, seeing home-grown talent such as Sutton, Wootton & Hornshaw in and around the first team is hard to feel grumpy about.

Humphrys and Olomola worked hard, with the former the pick of the pair working the channels well and showing ample ability in holding the ball up. But did I see anything special? On that occasion, no, but I think he’ll become a player that the fans will come to cherish.

Lincoln were by far the superior side on the day without being great, even in the way they played, whereas we looked to get the ball forward quickly albeit far from long ball stylee.

If that is to be our remit, It may work, but the front two are going to have to do much, much better against superior players week on week. The eventual return to fitness of Duane, Josh & Funso really can’t come quickly enough to help them, until then it could really be a case of damage limitation.

Coventry will be a massive test, a club who are riding the crest of a wave with a manager their fans simply adore. The motivation for him especially on Saturday in front of a massive crowd will be there in abundance, and despite our recent seasons of promise and near splendour, we are the firm underdogs.

Hopefully we can go there with a siege mentality, I just hope that the morale within the squad following a lacklustre pre-season isn’t too low for them to believe that they can’t get anything from the game – especially if we go behind early on.

Signings in the run up to the Saturday’s match would help enormously over the coming weeks and months, even if too late to help in the interim by ways of gelling, but let’s just hope that the club can provide a much needed boost to Nick & Andy and give them half a chance in a job they clearly relish.

Whatever happens, once again it’s certainly not going to boring, let’s just hope it’s not for the wrong reasons.

Up the Iron!

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