In the first real look at this season progress there is a huge amount to get in, and no real conclusions. Just thought I'd get that out there first. Basically I say that because we are very much a work in progress and it's still hard to tell if we will explode up the league, or merely meander around the lower half.
I think we all agree that those first initial fears of relegation we had with McClaren are somewhat starting to evaporate. Though a number of bad results would result in us slumping back, and although we are on better form, it's easy to suggest we are two or defeats in a row away from crisis again.
However, the swagger and belief seems to back in a number of the more flair players, and with Anderson and Blackstock approaching fitness (although in Dexter's case that will still be a long way off)
Any team might have somewhat struggled without the likes of Cohen, Blackstock and Anderson, and with capable reserve Garath McCleary also missing, there has been real no natural width to the team. It's easy to see why we chased Verhoek, even if ultimately that failed.
The damage McClaren could have done seems to have been nipped in the bud. I admit I for one would have given him more time, but the resurgence shown in the period since his departure really underlines how wrong I was. He really must have lost the dressing room.
If we went behind under McClaren, we really looked lost, the players seemed de-motivated, and under Cotterill that does seem different. Even though Portsmouth tonked us, we played well and could and should have gotten more out of a game that the score line defied, but then when you star chasing a game at 2 down you leave yourself open to that.
Joel Lynch for me this season has been a real revelation. I always thought he looked talented, and he had a lot of hype about him before he came here (I certainly signed him a few times on Football Manager) Especially in his preferred centre back role, it seems like Chambers that he looked capable in his full back slot, but at centre back he looks accomplished. I thought we might see Lascelles come through more, but with Lynch now blossoming there that is more unlikely.
Up front we do seem to have a number of options that we may have lacked. Miller is the big direct threat, who is powerful and quick; Findley is the nippy striker to use late on, Tudgay the aerial threat, and Derbyshire the man for finishing, although they aren't quite firing as a unit yet. Blackstock will be the one to come in and change this. Miller and Blackstock might see a more aerial threat, both handy in the air, and both good finishers. Derbyshire has disappointed for me a little. I always liked him at Blackburn.
Midfield wise, it’s hard to tell, under McClaren it looked clueless, and we still once again have issues surrounding Moussi's consistency. McGugan is again looking his confident self and Majewski has at times impressed me under Cotterill. Under McClaren this was all somewhat staid and dull in midfield. Boateng had a role as an enforcer, yet he doesn't have mobility to get around. Greening I so want to do well, and I think the crowd need to give him a little slack. I think he is seen as the face of McClaren signings (despite rumours being he was signed before Stcheve came in.)
And then there is the board. Where are we going? Well it is unclear still just what Doughty will put in, but it seems he has decided that enough is enough, and that he has staked all he can and should in this venture. Every gambler should have a limit, Doughty may have reached his. Whether this was something he was mulling over anyway, and decided by the protests or whether it really was unrelated, maybe he'll, and he did it because of the opposition to him solely. I know he said it’s down to McClarens appointment, but I think it is in part to alleviating pressure.
McClaren was very much a mistake and that I know now. We went for a flashy name when we should have for a man who knows this division.Many will say we shouldn't have got rid of Billy, but the problem there was that Billy had burned all of his bridges. As well as that, it seems he had tried his hardest to forge away out the club, as he had every where else he went. He still hasn't got a job now despite his great record. McClaren really had no idea what to do when it went wrong. It seems like his Wolfsburg period. Taking over a club that had done well, and being unable to replicate that. Wrong club,at wrong time.
Frank Clarks reign is still very much a long work in progress. The fans are onside. Let’s see how it goes
All in all I have hopes we can reached the playoff promised land again. Here's to seeing if we can.