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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


  • apologies........ defensive concentration at key times and a more forward agressive press and will have another not quite season - in six weeks time!
  • Interesting post Jack Raven, I agree this was a missed opportunity, though perhaps not in the same way you mean it.

    The fact is, we had the division's highest paid player who played very, very well most of the season (for all his faults) and we still didn't get anywhere near the top two. If you look at this league in the last 20 years, you won't find many teams who didn't capitalise on having a player of that calibre to call upon. Usually, teams paying those sorts of wages get promoted.

    We also had 6 Premier League players on loan. Two of them, Brewster and Gallagher, were in huge demand. It was a major achievement to get them here. There's not a team in the top 6 who wouldn't have taken them. Also these players weekly wage, coming from the PL, would not have come cheap. 

    All of this wasted though, due to poor style, poor tactics, poor selections and poor match day choices from the man in charge. My belief is that these players achieved what they did in spite of him, not because of him. 

    Whether I like it or not, Cooper will be given another chance next season and on balance that wouldn't be an unreasonable choice from Trevor Birch. But it's a big year for him next year, he's still got tons to prove. And he probably won't have players of the same standard to bail him out. 

    It's going to be interesting to see how it develops. 
  • I'm sure Brentford have followed us over the years, but now we must look at them, they scour the world for over achieving teams and pull in players who are over achieving in that team, what little we have, we need to invest in a top scouting team with a keen eye if we want to compete favourably with any of the power houses. If we find a gem and have to sell him, then so be it, we just move on and find the next one.
    Sounds easy, doesn't it, but its far more difficult to pull it off on a regular basis but that's the only way I see our club progressing.
  • @garythenotrashcougar I believe we more than half agree, our tactical approach doesnt create enough chances for forwards and midfielders, we dont press well enough, and those open play defensive lapses have been killing us all season. Please dont get me started on our crossing!

    Part of the point I was making is that the issues we saw yesterday. have been there all season and we only have six weeks to get the players in and put these issues right.

    I hope Steve Cooper will look at the season, see the same issues and make changes.

    His ability to change will be key, I believe, to an improved next season.

    That will be the true test of his coaching and managerial ability.
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