Fans in the UK may be able to stream all Phoenix Rising home games, and some away games, using Phoenix ABC Channel 15 Apps (see the link below). You put up with adverts unless you pay a $1.99 per month subscription. I doubt that foreign IP addresses are blocked.
The bad news is that the home games start at 3.30 am in the UK. However - games are consistently entertaining and high scoring, and the crowd atmosphere is great. Being able to watch PRFC in the evenings is how I survived three depressing seasons of watching ITFC on iFollow in the mornings ...
The season got off to a great start, in the new stadium, with a 4-1 victory over San Diego. The game was televised nationally on ESPN2 rather than the ESPN+ streaming service. It was very entertaining. PRFC had 13 shots on goal, 6 of them on target, during the first half alone. Almost too exciting for a long-suffering ITFC supporter!
New players performed well. Aodhan Quinn was especially impressive, adding subtlety and variation to the midfield . Among returning players, central striker Rufat Dadashov looked noticeably leaner, fitter and sharper. Demonstrations of support for the LGBTQ community included the use of rainbow colored corner flags!
The goalkeeper situation has become a concern. The regular goalkeeper had back surgery and is out for several weeks, and his replacement suffered a groin injury during the final minutes of the match. Other than that, the franchise and its supporters are rocking and rolling ...
Is the ITFC squad suffering from clinical depression? Here is a representative summary of the condition:
"Clinical depression is characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. It can be caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social sources of distress. These factors may cause changes in brain function, including altered activity of certain neural circuits in the brain.
The persistent feelings of sadness or loss of interest that characterize major depression can lead to a range of behavioral and physical symptoms. These may include changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behavior, or self-esteem. Treatment may involve medication, counseling, a change of environment, or a combination of these approaches".
During the last three years, ITFC has experienced: a demoralizing relegation season, a Covid-curtailed season, a prolonged lock-down with enforced isolation, a truncated pre-season, and a season of playing in empty stadia. This is more than enough to provide 'a combination of biological, psychological, and social sources of distress'.
It may be appropriate for the club to arrange for a sports psychiatrist to provide assistance and support to the squad during the coming pre-season. This could be especially effective in helping talented younger players, such as Downes, Wolfenden, Nydam, and Kenlock, to achieve their full potential.
We will mostly be playing teams in the lower third of the table. Do we have an easy run-in? Perhaps not. To begin with, 7 out of the 11 games are away from home. Beyond that ...
The bottom 6 clubs in League One are separated by 2 points. Four teams will go down, two will stay up. ITFC will be facing a series of teams who are fighting for their lives. This is not the type of challenge that the team embraces ...
Next Saturday away at Wigan, the 'form' team will be Wigan, who have 7 points from their last 5 games, compared to 4 points for ITFC. Wigan has scored the same number of goals this season (39) as ITFC. Former Town striker Will Keane has scored 5 of the goals and will be motivated to score against a former club.
Masochistic ITFC supporters (a potential oxymoron ...) may enjoy making their personal assessments of Paul Hurst's failed efforts to sign Curtis Tilt ...
Blackpool are currently 1 point behind us, with 2 games in hand. Their GD relative to us is +7. (Blackpool?? Yes, that Blackpool!!!)
Oxford are a point behind us, after the same number of games. Their relative GD is +7.
Portsmouth are a point ahead after the same number of games. Their relative GD is +11.
One or more of these teams is likely to go on a run that we will not match. Paul Cook will embark on a major rebuilding project. It will be helpful if Marcus Evans is no longer the majority owner at that point.
In an earlier thread, Nthsuffolkblue posed the question "Did Judge's bad news affect the performance at all?"
A related question is: "Did Judge's absence yesterday affect the performance at all?" My answer is "Yes, rather obviously". When playing in his preferred central role, Alan Judge brings guile and energy to the team, and makes other players, including James Norwood, more effective. I think that Paul Cook could build a team around Alan Judge, in a similar way to how Don Revie deployed Johnny Giles in the great Leeds teams of the late 1960's and early 1970's.
My perspective on personnel issues is influenced by the fact that professional sport franchises in the United States are notoriously unsentimental about personnel decisions. With US sensibilities, I would expect ITFC to release Luke Chambers, Cole Skuse, Freddie Sears and Emyr Hughes when their contracts expire, and Kayden Jackson and Gwion Edwards to move to other teams as soon as they can. I would expect Janoi Donacien to be offered a new contract, to be a cost-effective back up to injury-prone Kane Vincent-Young; and John Nolan to be retained as part of a midfield 'squad'.
As a manager in League One, I would consider the current goal keepers and a no-frills back four of Kenlock, Wilson, Nsiala and KVY/Donacien, to be adequate. I would drive the professional development of former academy players (e.g. Bishop, Downes, Dozzell, Lankester, Wolfenden, Dobra and El Mizouni) using an up-or-out approach. Assuming that some of them flourished, I would have the majority of a squad in place. Specific needs could be met during transfer windows. I would not sign more than two or three loan players.
It will be very interesting to see how Paul Cook proceeds.
I doubt that anything much will come of it. Having watched events unfold several times, at 25% speed on iFollow, here is my interpretation:
Alan Judge approached the referee, raised his left arm, and jabbed a finger towards the referee's face, albeit with no intention of making physical contact. The referee reacted instinctively to Judge's aggressive behaviour. The referee is several inches taller than Judge. As a result his reaction, as captured in an iconic photograph, looks more aggressive than it really was.
Flynn Downes then grasped the referee, turned him partially around and pushed him with his body. Downes ought to have been sent off at that point. Some Northampton players sought to prevent any physical confrontation. Any physical contact they had with the referee was accidental and incidental.
Alan Judge has been playing well for several weeks and could have been awarded a penalty. Without condoning his behaviour, I understand his frustration. The behaviour of Flynn Downes, as team captain, was both incomprehensible and shocking to me.
A loss to Shrewsbury could become a tipping point in the decline of ITFC.
A listless defeat would not trigger the departure of a manager who can barely go through the motions. It could however be the point at which ITFC begins a transition from being a mid-table team with faint playoff aspirations to being a bottom-third team that can only feed on relegation strugglers. ITFC could rather easily finish the season below the likes of Shrewsbury, Plymouth, Blackpool, Gillingham and Fleetwood.
During the past year I have come to accept that ITFC will decline for as long as Paul Lambert is the manager and Marcus Evans is the owner. Nowadays, when I watch games on iFollow, it is with the sense of detachment that comes from being satisfied when the team that plays the better football wins.
I don't want to get anyone into trouble, and will not speculate on the line up. However - the back four is going to be Luke Matheson, Luke Chambers, Luke Wolfenden, and either Luke Kenlock or Luke Ward. Def info!