Two home matches since my last post, two draws, one last minute equaliser, one new manager and unfortunately probably less than one good half of football !
Sheffield Utd was pretty poor with us coming up against a good footballing side who showed us how to knock the ball around and confuse the opposition by sticking a player in-between the two lines of four.
Alas Johnnie Jackson looked lost in our midfield four against their five and generally we didn’t look on it at all.
Fortunately we defended well and United couldn’t break us down other than scoring a soft one thanks to a free kick routine that was as poorly defended by us as it was well-worked by them.
But we kept going, Jordan Botaka got slightly more than his customary five minutes and won a free kick that Adam Chicksen delivered superbly and there was the BFG to force it home in the dying seconds.
(When I say delivered superbly I do mean managed to get it over the first man – which we fail to do with free kicks, corners and crosses way too often)
And so, a point against all the odds and much more than we truly deserved. Karl Robinson had of course already been given the job but would sit out of the Sheffield Utd match, taking control after the weekend, leading us in facing his old club MK Dons in today’s second round FA Cup tie.
A very positive press conference / first interview in the week I thought, saying good things and coming across well – if given a few quid in January and time (the most important thing of all) he might be able to do something.
Also in the week we got the first two episodes of ‘Getting The Know The Network’, a podcast giving us too many gory details of the Duchatelet regime and a couple of emails to Chris Powell from Roly !
To be fair to Mr Duchatelet, his second email was a bit of a revelation to me.
I never realised how easy slipping seamlessly from a 4-4-2 to a diamond formation and back again is. The man clearly is a tactical genius.
On top of that, apparently, teams in Belgium will often practice competitively against their reserves or under 21s ?
This is an astonishing revelation. How on Earth Chris Powell, with 667 first team appearances, 5 caps for England and a camping blanket with an abundance of coaching badges sewn thereon managed to get us out of League One as Champions without this kind of knowledge I have no idea !
But joking aside …. really Roland ? You thought that these might be useful emails to a bloke with that much experience ?
A little bit earlier I typed that the new manager might be able to do something with a few days coaching. I think he needs just a little bit longer !
Today, for the first forty five minutes we put out some of the worst football I’ve seen this season. I can only assume that Mr Robinson had been instilling a few pearls of wisdom at the training ground and we aren’t quite yet up to speed.
MK Dons played some quite neat football in that first period, with Ben Reeves especially causing problems out on their right, despite cutting in on his left foot every time.
Morgan Fox was once again isolated often with two coming at him without any support as Ademola Lookman continued his midfield wanderings but all around we just looked a bit confused.
Not a lot going at the front with Magennis and Ajose always too far apart – with one difference, Magennis looking like he had a clue !
Going in at half-time nil-nil was a positive for me, despite being poor we still hadn’t conceded and with forty-five still to play a chance to get our ball in the third round bag was up for grabs.
A little better in the second half with Ajose taking off his clearly very heavy gloves and actually running about a bit but still no goals for either side.
Mr Lookman had another bottom lip moment and stropped for a little bit but still looked probably the most likely and nearly nicked it for us near the end with a shot that went just wide.
Botaka didn’t do a great deal with a full run out but it was good to see Slightly Mad Jorge back in the side. One assumes that KR (as he will be known from this point forward) was told that he wasn’t allowed to start Teixeira but took the first opportunity to get him back into the action as Konsa was removed early on following a clash of heads while defending a very dangerous cross into the Charlton box.
Mad Jorge was one of the few bright lights of a generally poor afternoon at the Valley, popping up in all kinds of attacking positions, despite supposedly playing at full back !
Dillon Phillips was excellent in goal again and in general we were pretty good at the back – but KD needs to sort us out going forward and soon.
Personally I think Ajose has had his time in the starting eleven and it’s time we gave someone else a chance.
Personally I’d play Chicksen wide left and Lookman up front with Magennis, or Lookman on the right and Novak alongside Magennis with Botaka going back to the bench.
I’m no expert so if there’s anyone out there with a bit of tactical nous they could email the new boss I’m sure he’ll take any and all suggestions on board !
Nobody in this league is that good so if we get at them I think we can do well.
Away to Bradford next weekend will be a tough one but they’re the type of side we have to get at early and try and impose ourselves upon.
For God’s sake, we beat Scunthorpe in round one and stuck five past Bristol Rovers less than a fortnight ago (ish).
I feel like I should mention the protests (or in today’s case, the lack of them). For me, the ‘in game’ protests are no longer cutting it, today there were no ‘Roland Out’ chants, but then there wasn’t a lot of chanting or singing anything at all until the last ten minutes or so.
There doesn’t seem to be a queue of buyers (or one ?!) lining up to take over but putting the pressure on RD in Belgium will definitely keep the feelings of the majority at the forefront of his mind and should someone come along with bottomless pockets and a weird urge to lose money owning a football club then he might just possibly let us go.
I definitely think taking the protests to him will do a lot more good than lobbing a few rubber taxis on the pitch so good luck to the Belgium Twenty on their latest travels this weekend.
I’m not going to Bradford this week, a bit too far, or Milton Keynes for the replay, but back at the Valley for Peterborough Utd so might see you there !
In the meantime, c’mon you Reds !