The first game of the season is like the opening night of Big Brother. On Big Brother the contestants are full of promise; beautiful people promising masses of adventurous sex. You know it won’t be long before they’re in saggy-bottomed tracksuits staring vacantly into space. Yesterday, the stands were full new away shirts, tans and girlfriends. Things seemed fresh, though you know by October the tans will have faded and the girls will have got bored and gone away.
Yesterday didn’t feel much like a new dawn though. We were disjointed throughout; not chaotically, but we seemed to misfire and barely deserved the win. The newbies haven’t quite bedded in, and the oldies seemed a little off the pace. Last year’s opener had Andy Burgess to galvanise things, but that wasn’t apparent this year.
So, to the new signings:
Gnohere is big and strong, which was a bonus in a back three that lacked a bit of beef. Presumably his muscle was why he was chosen over Corky. When (if?) Willmott and Gilchrist come back they will offer much the same, but with a bit more footballing finesse. It’s difficult to see Gnohere holding down a regular place when others are fit.
Is the club shop selling pairs of commemorative Martin Gray bandy legs? Standing and Twigglet both seemed to wearing a pair. Standing seemed to be on the fringes of the game, which when you’re playing in the middle of the park is not a good thing. He started OK, but ran out of steam quite quickly. It was only the introduction of a bit of Terrier Power: Carl Pettefer, which re-ignited the final push. The midfield struggled to stamp their authority on the game throughout.
Trainer doesn’t look like an early season player to me. Again, he’s big and strong, and showed some reasonable touches. But early in the season, when pitches are good and fitness is at a peak, Speed and mobility tend to take precedence. Trainer is lacking in both which meant the left side was exposed on a couple of occasions. I can see Trainer being a particular asset later in the season when the midfield becomes more like the Battle of the Somme.
The Franco-phobe behind me seemed to be relieved every time Jeannin broke into a trot or put in a tackle. He seemed to expect him to spend the game gesticulating moodily and talking about Renaissance art. Jeannin wasn’t as dynamic Anaclet on the other flank but his delivery was OK and looks a more sustainable prospect than the grandads of last year.
Lacked the directness of an out and out striker, preferring, like a natural winger, to work himself into space by drifting to the flanks. That aside, he seemed to do OK and it was a bit of a surprise to see Yemi replace him at half-time. Yemi didn’t look fit and perhaps giving Ledgister an extra 20 minutes before making the substitution would have given him time to test the Rovers defence before Yemi could come in for a shorter, more intense spell at the end when they were tiring.
Twigglet nearly did what so many have done in the past: Andy Thomson and Lee Bradbury spring to mind, missed sitters on their home debuts therefore setting themselves up for a barren time at the club. The penalty will have done him no harm at all. He looks like a goal poacher, which is something we didn’t have last year once Basham went lame, but who he plays with is another question.