A month into the season: One defeat, fifth in the table and a game in hand – we’d all have taken that, wouldn’t we? Notoriously, we always start the season like we’re towing a caravan and have often looked back come every May and pointed to a slow start as the standout reason for falling just short.
Again, we were far from many ‘experts’ pre-season predictions as promotion candidates; giving way to stereotype such as those world beaters Sheffield United and Coventry City, but business in the Iron camp leading up to the campaign was minimal yet meaningful.
Here we take a little look at the opening month of the campaign and a few things we’ve learned so far.
- IF YOU PAY PEANUTS, YOU GET MONKEYS.
Despite our promising start to the new season on the pitch, again matters off it have taken a pivotal role in many fans’ moans and groans. This time, the kit!
When Cabrini was announced as the new kit manufacturer, there was a collective sigh amongst the Iron faithful. Last year, Avec received pelters for only managing to fulfill their delivery obligation a week before the start of the season – and we thought that was bad. But compared to Cabrini, they now look a highly professional outfit.
Let’s make no bones about it; Cabrini have come along, presented their case and told SUFC exactly what they wanted to hear. Basically that they could provide a quality kit, for pittance and have it delivered on time. Contract signed. Cabrini tootle off laughing all the way to the West Midlands for their next pitch.
Now, the quality of the kit is still to be determined, as no-one barring the players have managed to get their hands on one as yet. The design still divides opinion. Personally, I like the home kit (barring the ridiculous border around the sponsor’s name) and the away kit is well, an away kit!
Messrs Swann and Rodwell are at their wits end, refusing to attach any kind of blame to themselves as the first stock load floats its way across the Indian Ocean attached to 2×8’s and couple of barrels.
Hopefully there will be a significant lesson learnt here that cheap isn’t always best. Swanny bemoaned pre-season’s lack of income due to broken promises from Cabrini, and now any money saved by using a budget supplier will have been slashed up the lamp post as fans demand refunds and refuse to buy.
Think on fellas, think on!
- THE DEFENCE ISN’T QUITE AS GOOD AS WE THOUGHT
Okay, I didn’t really want to include a moan in this list of things we’ve learned, and I guess it isn’t really a moan, more an observance.
Can any Iron fans put their hands on their hearts and say that heading into this season they would have improved the defence? Finishing last season in the way we did, the defence was solid. Barely conceding any goals and going a hell of a long way to ensuring we pushed Barnsley into the performance of their lives at Wigan.
Daniels, Clarke, M(u)rfin (sorry Paul), Wallace and Townsend – as good as it gets surely.. GA knew this, hence no need for defensive reinforcements in the summer.
But those five haven’t quite hit the heights of last season have they? Seven goals conceded in their opening five games – that’s on par with Bristol Rovers and Coventry City in 22nd and 23rd place respectively.
Fortunately, the boys in front of them have been in sumptuous form and in a way have masked over those teething problems back there.
I’m sure these things will be ironed out, after all they’re too good not to. But over the years, teams that make the biggest impression in this division are the ones that are extremely hard to break down. There will be days when those boys in front have an off day meaning winning ugly now and again will be of paramount importance come the end of the season
- THE DIVISION LOOKS AS OPEN AS EVER
It’s still early days I know and a hell of a lot is going to happen between now and the end of the season. This time last year it looked as if Coventry were going to have the title sewn up by February and we all know what happened there.
But I think we’ve already witnessed evidence that once again League One is going to be as open as ever.
There will be the standout teams, naturally. Already, Bolton are flying and perhaps proving that now and again the bookies do get their pre-season predictions right, although there’s a hell of a long way to go. Bradford were many fans’ tips for promotion this season (mine included) and have started impressively under Stuart McCall sitting ominously in second place.
Millwall will be there for the duration once again after narrowly missing out on promotion last season. Then there’s ourselves – one of the form teams in England spanning over several months. Fleetwood could very easily be one of the surprise packages, they too look very strong.
But for those teams to name a few that have started the season well, some results have already showed that it will be far from plain sailing as the season progresses.
Take ourselves. We thrash one of the favourites for promotion in Gillingham one week, then get beaten fairly comprehensively away at Port Vale the next week who in-turn themselves go and get pummeled away at a struggling Bury side the week after.
Sequences like this will no doubt be a common occurrence over the next eight months or so, so any kind of consistency is going to be key.
- WE’RE NOT SO RELIANT ON PADDY!
One of the things playing on the minds of every single little Iron walking the planet was where the goals were going to come from with Paddy being injured.
I’m sure even GA at the back of his mind had similar worries. But he needn’t have worried had he? Had we?
For once, goals are finally appearing from all over the park. Not that Bish and Dawson are ever going to chip in – more chance of a meteor hitting than those phenomenon’s occurring, but in Josh Morris in particular we FINALLY have ourselves a goal scoring midfielder. How long has it been?? Too long.
Okay, I’ll cut Dawson and Bish a little slack; after all, they’re busy winning back possession to help create these goals (although the odd one wouldn’t go amiss).
KVV has been a revelation, looking mean and keen – evidently thriving on the responsibility during Paddy’s absence and Hops is proving game on game just how integral to this team he is.
He may not be the ‘cool’ player that fans love to talk about. You may never leave a game purring at one of his performances. But if you sit and analyse what he does over the course of a game, his worth stands out like a sore thumb.
I’d like to think that GA has worked very hard on trying to get his players to chip in with more goals, it certainly lifts the burden from our talisman’s shoulders who edges ever nearer a return.
- DAWSON IS BETTER THAN WE THOUGHT
I’m not sure many people will argue with my #1 choice as the five things we’ve learned so far this season, although many will push the KVV case – alluded to slightly in the previous mention.
When Mark Robins brought Stephen Dawson in from Rochdale, we’d all heard about him. A bit of a journeyman most people thought, messing around in the lower divisions, solid, no thrills, yeah not a bad signing.
Sadly, injury hampered his pre-season in 2015 and going into the campaign he was hardly on the lips of most fans.
As the season upped and downed and downed and downed and upped a bit and stagnated and upped and upped and was finally stitched up by Wigan’s clown of a keeper, Dawson still – whilst important, granted, failed to really capture the imagination of the supporters.
With Bish and Ness permanent fixtures in the centre of the park, Dawson was used, in the main, as a square peg in a round hole; sitting in front of those two and in behind the strikers in almost a free role. This wasn’t his position, it never has been, he and everyone else knew it. Subbed often on 70 minutes, his frustration was evident.
But now, after a solid pre-season (what EVERY player needs) he’s proving his worth to everyone and it’s testament to the fact that he’s been linked with ‘bigger’ clubs and is arguably THE name on the lips of the Iron fans right now.
In mid August, Wigan midfielder Sam Morsy was believed to be heading to Glanford Park in a big money move on the premise that Dawson was off. Whilst all fans get soppy when big figures are mentioned regarding a new signing, there were equal numbers praying that wouldn’t be the case.
The form of our inspirational captain has almost brushed under the carpet Morsy joining Barnsley in the championship, and with the transfer deadline firmly passed, we can all relax in the knowledge that one of our main men is going nowhere.
Up The Iron!