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Three ways, maybe two and a half, that we can go
at 21:16 4 Dec 2021

- "Project" manager: young guy like Manning who I'd be thrilled to see here but probably if we were treading water in lower reaches of Champ rather than needing to get up this season (and make no mistake, today's development should disabuse *anyone* of the idea that this squad wasn't built squarely for promotion this year).

- Promotion-specialist manager: Not sure who really fits that, these days, actually if anyone but that's the road we shouldn't go down, it's no guarantee as the game moves on so fast, look at what's happened with promotion specialist Cook.

- Mid-career manager at similar level with potentially higher ceiling: That's Appleton, basically, and perhaps Ryan Lowe fits into this category best even though he's a touch young for it.

What to do? I think we end up with someone in the third category, but I also think if McGreal takes a few games and does particularly well then why rush it – all we should need at this particular point is someone who can get a tune out of these players consistently, whoever that is.

Not an ideal situation to be in, this, but it's seemed somewhat inevitable.
A positive twist on the stats
at 14:34 29 Nov 2021

(Buried a version of this deep in an earlier thread although I was actually one off with one of the figures)

If we carry on our PPG rate since Bolton – 14 games so a reasonable sample size – over the next 26 games we will get 45 more points, meaning we end up on 72. That won't be enough for the play-offs but something between one and two wins on top of that should be, we're looking at 75-78 points for that. Put like this it looks more reasonable to suggest that a pretty small improvement on top of what we are showing now, over a significantly longer run of games, would see us competing in May.

And yes, this is not where any of us wanted to be or thought we'd be ...
[Post edited 29 Nov 14:35]
We have a problem up front
at 10:13 24 Nov 2021

We do I'm afraid. We've seen Bonne's strengths and he's been superb so far, and works very hard too. When we are on the front foot and fizzing ball across the box he's who you want in there.

But when it's not working, he might as well not be there. Not a criticism of him, sometimes it's a systemic thing and sometimes it's because he can't be everything. Smith last night put in exactly the kind of performance we could have done with from a centre-forward for Rotherham – winning stuff in the air, backing in and holding the ball up on the ground, offering a platform to play off.

Said this last night but if we can't get a similar tune out of Pigott then we need to find someone who can offer those traits, it would be a big help given all the potential we have in attacking midfield and out wide. There's too much on Bonne at the moment and it's starting to tell.
So far short it's untrue – so what will the owners do?
at 22:27 23 Nov 2021

I'd like to offer something positive but I've got nothing. Rotherham are a good side: well oiled, strong, confident, they'll go up. But we didn't lay as much as a finger on them.

It's not looking good now, however you spin it. Four points from five games against teams we'd like to be our rivals – a drying-up of the one thing we had in our favour ie goals, and a continued inability to keep things tight enough at the other end.

Might have been better with a right side that wasn't – rough guess – our fifth choice combination at the start of the season or with a senior left-back. Also questions up front today I'm afraid: I love Bonne but compare his contribution with Smith's there and it is night and day, we badly need Pigott to step up and give us another credible option up there otherwise it's a major need in January. Could carry on all over the pitch tonight though.

Good crowd in there tonight and at half time I thought it might still be on if we came out well and there was enough injustice whipped up at whatever sh7thousery Rotherham produced. But it never really was. It's going to be lovely to sell out the Sunderland game but let's get real, we are on course for a 13k crowd this time next year against Forest Green and a tonne of regrets about how we squandered a moment that could have really been special for this club. What will the owners do?
Basically back where we were after Plymouth, aren't we?
at 11:06 21 Nov 2021

A lot of pressure on Rotherham game now, just as there was at Wycombe. Win it and yesterday can more or less be chalked off, we'd be on about par for what you'd expect from this tricky run.

Fall short and we're back in danger territory, for me. Can't make any argument that four points from Plymouth, Oxford, Wycombe, Sunderland and Rotherham would be good enough and I don't think five would be either. We need to deliver, it's going to be the toughest game yet but can't really see any available excuses.

My expectation: we draw and then beat Crewe pretty comfortably, meaning we're not out of contention but still not doing anywhere near enough. It's not hard to see us continuing to bob along like that. Hope I'm very wrong.
Really good if McCleary doesn't make tomorrow's game
at 14:04 1 Nov 2021

He's been excellent for them, mainly in No10 position, I don't think they are as good without him. Would probably mean the three big lads all start again though, and that obviously brings its own problems for us. Injuries obviously an issue at our end too but when opponents' key players are missing we need be making it count given our squad depth.
Two points gained after going behind, 15 squandered after going ahead
at 10:44 31 Oct 2021

That's off a fag packet btw and charitably doesn't include the Bolton game in the latter figure because we were just so comfortably beaten ... but even with some minor deviation it's easy to see that this looks very bad. Those numbers need to at least get close to each other if we're to have a chance of doing anything,

Interesting debate below btw, the thing for me is that we have such a massive opportunity this season with engaged & monied backers, good players, a sense of freshness and momentum around the club ... and if we squander it then it's probably not going to feel exactly like this again for a long time. We need to make it count because if we do then this club could really fly. If we can't do that in the next month then this season has probably gone and it's another squad rebuild next summer.
Bit of pressure on the Wycombe game now
at 21:17 30 Oct 2021

Today not a big deal on its own but we already have a lot of catching up to do and we need to show we can do something against these sides – which means it's non-negotiable that we get at least a couple of significant results in the next four. If we see ourselves among the contenders then we should be ensuring the margins go our way in a healthy number of those clashes. Anything else is simply not good enough.

Hopefully we get a couple of players back for Tuesday, but either way let's get Celina into that side and Coulson in at LB, where we need to hope he stays fit as he's a significant upgrade.
[Post edited 30 Oct 21:37]
Going to need a striker aren't we
at 09:46 22 Oct 2021

If Norwood is not in the mix for whatever reason then we're very short up there – one injury leaves us relying on Jackson, who is clearly seen as a last resort & hopefully finds a new club in Jan, for the bench or just opting for another of our zillion wingers/10s. Don't really fancy going into those November games with one CF if anything happened to Bonne or Pigott, but that's where we are. When the window opens we could do with either an experienced head happy for time off bench or a young buck showing promise somewhere to fatten things up a bit.
In three games' time ....
at 08:45 17 Oct 2021

... we will be a third of the way, more or less, through the season. Win two of them and we'll be on 20 points, which would mean we've taken 10 points in October – that was my "bare minimum" projection at the start of the month. Do that and you wouldn't quite be laughed out of town for suggesting things have turned in the right direction for a play-off push, although there'd be considerable caveats too.

Anything less, and what do the club do? I get that resilience can be one of the last things that develops in a team but then I look at the way others (Wigan) have made light of that concern. One of the excuses people have given Cook is that he's worked across two different squads and none of it should be compared. I think the exact opposite: when the exact same mistakes and weaknesses – primarily a chronic inability to manage a game or handle the lightest squall of pressure from an opponent, meaning both sets of players have capitulated time and again – then the alarm bells ring pretty loudly for me. It couldn't really be clearer.

Reading people say this is a two-year project drives me mad. It's not true. This particular squad of players was built with this season squarely in mind and if we fail then 50% of it will churn and we go yet again. Anyone fancy that? It's good that fans are still onboard and coming through the turnstiles home and away. That's vital. But the debate on this board used to be about whether 15th in the Championship was enough. Now the merest flicker of quality in a game is used to justify being 15th in League One. We need to get real, it's just so far from being good enough.

I'll maintain that six points from the next three just about give Cook, a good guy who I really really want to make it happen for us, licence to carry on into November and hopefully beyond. Less than that and where's the justification? I don't see any.

[Post edited 17 Oct 8:57]
Think our concerns re Morsy/Egypt have eased ...
at 17:03 1 Oct 2021

He hasn't made the cut after all:

Morsy back in Egypt squad
at 17:39 20 Sep 2021

Not really been about so apols if already flagged up by someone. Looks like he'll be away over next international break and, if Carlos Queiroz (new manager) likes what he sees, you'd assume there's high chance he'll miss several weeks in Jan-Feb with AFCON.
I'd missed Tom Hunt's contribution to the Afghanistan discourse yesterday
at 09:30 19 Aug 2021

This was the sum of it. Utterly shameful. Has the penny dropped in Ipswich yet?
Couple of goals already for Troy Parrott
at 22:40 17 Aug 2021

I mean, as with everything let's see how things pan out over time – but the number of people who wouldn't have had him back here surprised me *very* much. He's going to have an excellent season, I'm sure of it.
Not very clever at all
at 21:47 17 Aug 2021

That last 40 minutes was diabolical – on a par with the worst stuff at the tail end of last season. We had no idea how to reverse the tide and were thoroughly outplayed. Edwards the one and only bright spot.

I'm sure things will get better, that's obvious logic given the turnaround of the squad. But they now have to improve very quickly. The bare facts read that we have played Morecambe, Newport, Burton and Cheltenham this season, and scraped a single draw in the 92nd minute. No way to dress it up – it's a concern and Cook has to sort it sharply because we cannot waste this season or let the club lose momentum.
Barry & Jacobs both coming is quite logical when you think about it
at 10:04 6 Aug 2021

Wide forward options: Burns, Dobra, Jacobs, Barry (/Chaplin?)
10 options: Fraser, Chaplin (/Dobra?)
CF options: Piggott, Norwood, Bonne (/Chaplin, Barry if play a two)

Think that's exactly the depth and flexibility we need in order to be serious. Now for CM (two if Nolan doesn't come back), CB, LB and that's us done.
Troy Parrott to MK Dons
at 13:37 29 Jul 2021

That's going to go very well for them.
That's our best signing yet
at 21:13 14 Jul 2021

Over the last three seasons Fraser has been a top, top operator at this level and we're getting his prime years. Need to be patient while things click but this is getting very exciting.
[Post edited 14 Jul 21:13]
Pigott is a decent signing
at 17:11 12 Jul 2021

Seen him mooted on here before and the reaction has been mixed. But whenever I've watched him over the past 18 months it's struck me how much he has kicked on. He's a very good leader of the line for this level now and will do well here, absolute bargain on a free as well. Good business.
Four good signings
at 13:21 26 Jun 2021

Burns, Evans, Harper, Bonne – all very good for the level, should all do well here. Happy with the kind of player we are aiming for and seemingly getting. Hopefully we can get at least another four or five in over the next few weeks and then things will start to look a lot more settled.
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