Pride at the Park?-by TMP
It seems a long time ago that we were fifth in the League and we had a top scorer by the name of Ade Akinbiyi. If we are to believe our Chief Executive, Dave Edmundson, we might still have been able to keep hold of Ade if we had beaten the team we play tomorrow, Derby in the FA Cup match at Pride Park back in January.
A good cup run it seems may have provided enough money to retain our best player and it has to be said ensured our season was still alive whilst looking forward to some entertaining play!
Instead of that we are playing badly, a lot of fans are wondering if its all worth it, we have plummetted to sixteenth in the table and we have not won now since Plymouth at home on the 4th February. The most worrying thing is that we have only scored 2 goals in the last 7 matches and we are still at least 7 points off relative safety if you assume we need 50 points.
It was also announced this week by the Club that all the business loans had now been paid off and that we could now effectively look forward to next season. Call me suspicious, but we always have some sort of spin when Season Ticket promotions are on the horizon!
I personally think this is last chance saloon for the Club and if there is no significant improvement in performance next season, the fans are going to be doing a Derby County with pre-match protests. Declining fan base is something else we may have to suffer with even less atmosphere at the Turf! During the close season, I want to see the Ade money spent wisely and quickly. Steve has said in the past he wants 'Quality over Quantity'. Lets hope the Quality can prove itself against Derby this Saturday!
Our manager we understand is close to signing a contract. There are however a number of rumblings about Steve and whether he is the major tactician we were led to believe.
I still have faith in our manager despite some of the things I have heard but the Board need to support him for next season and we need to see both good players coming into the squad as well as developing a decent size squad to cover for injuries and suspensions.
We need to see what Steve can do under those circumstances, and if next season we can prove we are a Top 10 team in this division, the doubts about the manager will thankfully evaporate!
Anyway enough of my ranting, lets get back to tomorrow's match.
We might be in dire straits but we seem better placed than the opponents we face tomorrow. All is not well at Pride Park, play-off hopefuls last season they are now 19th in the League on only 39 points! Their former manager,Phil Brown has departed,leaving Terry Westley temporarily in charge and the fans 'predict a riot' and are due to protest at Pride Park before the match concerned about huge debts and a directionless club! Sound familiar?
This club are also rapidly becoming the Loan Kings in this division. Their most recent loan from Doncaster Rovers, Michael McIndoe looks set to make his debut in midfield tomorrow and this would be I understand the 13th loan they have used this season alone. This must be a record and begs the question 'Is this Legal?'
Anyway, Derby do have injury worries with both Seth and Michael Johnson ruled out along with long term injury victims Richard Jackson and Paul Boertien.
However players in the squad we need to watch include Spanish midfielder Inigo Idiakez plus experienced strikers Paul Peschisolido and Tommy Smith.
Oh God, do something about Pesky this time, he always flipping scores against us! Tommy Smith? You know I thought he was a cast iron certainty to come to our club at one point this season. Wonder how close we got to signing him and whether we are in with a shout for 2006/7?
Enough of that mob, what about the Clarets?
Bearing in mind we have only scored two goals in seven games, where are they going to come from?
Michael Ricketts it seems may be available to play after a bout of some bug or other. If he cant play and he has really gone back to Leeds, we can always get Frank Sinclair's driver to play and pretend we have a striker! I have heard of bringing 'ringers' into a team but never 'dead ringers'!
Sorry Steve couldn't resist that!
So then Ricketts to play and partner Kyle Lafferty? I would like to see that partnership develop whilst giving the young gun valuable experience for 2006-7. Gifton may also return from injury and will hopefully keep the bench nice and warm! Wade Elliott and Garreth O'Connor might be fighting for a place and the most happiest man on the pitch is likely to be Michael Duff who can return to his traditional defensive role and not have to worry about scoring! I wonder if Micah Hyde is worried about scoring, he has to sometime this season surely?
As far as I can see with the possible exception of Branch and of course Coyne we have virtually the whole squad to choose from for a change! Well Steve, this is your 'Quality' not 'Quantity' side, prove it tomorrow and get the lads to bring home three badly needed points and return a few smiles to our fanbase who seem to be losing the will to live!