How close were we really and what do we need to change?
We need to quickly review the season to see what needs to change.
First of all Steve Cooper has to stay. We cant afford to go through another new manager with 6 weeks to the start of the season and anyway he has earned the right with what he has achieved over the course of the season. Especially considering the unbalanced and razor thin squad we currently have.
Before anyone says it, I dont wear any glasses, rose-tinted or otherwise I just like to look at the facts and what happened in the matches. and where we let results slip from our grasp.
Over the whole season our results are P46 W18 D16 L12 GF62 GA53 Pts70 that puts us 14 pts off automatic promotion. That sounds a huge gap until you look at the number of draws and how many times we were controlling and unable to score or lacked concentration and conceded late.
Our home form W10 D5 L8 GF27 GA23 Pts 35 puts us clear mid table, whereas our away form W8 D11 L4 GF35 GA30 pts puts us third in the league. So we got the same number of pts from away matches as home matches. Our fortresses were evenone else stadiums but not our own.
First learning point, we need to make the Liberty a fearsome place to play and it isnt at the moment, but beneath that obvious statement, it points to our inability to break down teams who come to defend because we dont create enough chances, and we lose concentration at vital times.
We conceded too many late goals to lose matches at home Notts Forest, Leeds, Stoke, Luton, and once away at Fulham.
However just focussing on the high number of draws where we lost the lead through lapses either at the end of the matches or immediately after we had taken the lead.
Reading (H) last minute equaliser, Barnsley (A) Equaliser 3 mins after we took the lead, Blackburn (A) equaliser 90+4 mins, Notts Forest (A) two equalisers 12m and 10m after we took the lead. there is 8pts left on the table.
We could include Bristol (A) and QPR (H) where despite dominating the match we couldnt score. Four more pts gone missing there. So just on draws where either our defensive concentration and/or our lack of goals meant we dropped pts that would put us 2 pts away from automatic promotion.
Now I know its possible to play this game, but there are limited results going the other way Leeds (A) being the most obvious.
The underlying issues of lack of defensive concentration at key times and our low scoring rates (which has been prevalent for a number of years) for me culminated in the Brentford result. We didnt lack heart, ability or attitude its just these season long inconsistencies bit us hard yesterday. Both need to be addressed in the limited off season, if we want to push next season - in six weeks.
There are other issues for us to focus on. One of the key ones for me is how we press teams. Our press is poor and too deep, whereas other teams press from the front, we drop into a deeper position and only press up front with 2 players.
I'll leave it there now, but imo we came closer to promotion than we all realise but unless we address the low scoring rate, defensive concent