I am miles behind on watching the games, but here are some reasons to be happy:
- I’m about halfway through Hull but it seemed immediately obvious to me that Hull are a Premier League team playing in the Championship. Not literally a Premier League team, they’ve lost some players I imagine, but they had something about them that isn’t always evident at this level. In that sense, losing there was rather like the old losing away in top division used to be: mildly disappointing but overwhelmingly the thing most likely to have happened. Seen in that light, our start to the season isn’t maybe as bad as it felt at the time. This said, I haven’t watched Huddersfield yet so there’s that.
- Being unbeaten in three games is a fine thing to happen. Whatever the shortcomings of Kit Symons, teams playing with confidence can achieve a good deal. I’ve long felt that the current squad is better than popularly realised; if they play without fear then there’s a chance to do something in this division.
- Particularly with Alan Curbishley sitting in his Motspur Park Volcano plotting devious things. Look, I’m not saying he’s any kind of messiah, but he’s been around the game long enough to know what’s what. He’s a bright man. I think part of the frustration early in the season was a general feeling (I’m sorry for what I’m about to say) that Kit Symons might not have had the wherewithal to organise the team, to iron out failings etc. But with Curbishley around we can feel more confident that the right things are being addressed in the right way.
- And we have new players. I am perplexed that we still don’t seem to have the destroying midfielder we so badly need, but against that our midfield is full up and talented, so maybe we don’t need one. We have decided that part of the issue with the defence is personnel and brought in some personnel who have a track record of performing. As Ben Weeks noted on twitter, Ream and Stearman were both good statistically in the past, the latter I think particularly strong in blocking shots. And if there’s any single thing this team needs it’s someone to make opposing shots a little less straightforward. It also adds to a bewildering collection of recent fans’ player of the year award winners, which suggests that the players we have are the kinds that supporters can get behind, but also who won’t shirk responsibility, this being a big part of fans’ evaluations, I suspect. Which can only be a good thing.
- We’re probably okay then. People want pace up front but I don’t think any team is ever ‘one player away’ from anything. Dwight Gayle would have been lovely but his absence doesn’t change much, not really. If the defence gets better, if O’Hara maintains what even I have to admit has been a scintillating start, and if Ross really does get to play centre-forward, I still think this team can contend. I really do.