Grays Athletic 0 Us 0

A fittingly dull draw against Grays last night. The fact, having needlessly lost points against Exeter, Cambridge and Halifax, we moved within three points of top spot suggests that the league is there for the taking. It’s just a question of who takes it.

Things look OK, we’ve now faced Cambridge, Stevenage and Burton away, all who appear to be in a cabal, which also includes us, Aldershot and Torquay who look best set to fight it out for the title.

My perception of last year was that Dagenham started poorly before coming good later in the season. This isn’t true; they dropped points early on, notably to us, but maintained good form otherwise throughout the season. It therefore adds strength to the argument that sitting in the pack remains a preferable option for now. To be striding out front again risks complacency and generating unrealistic expectations. I, for one, would prefer not to see an expectant sell-out crowd on Boxing Day if it meant we were able to keep our heads through to May.

I still maintain that pound for pound we had the best squad in the league last season. It ran out of steam and collapsed under the pressure, but had all things been equal we would have won the title comfortably.

I’m not so sure we do have the best team this season; we possibly have the strongest squad which may be preferable, but two things appear to be missing. Strong tactical leadership – both on the field (witness the capitulation against Exeter) and off (the unsettled team and poor substitutions) and a spark that makes things happen, either with creativity or with goals.

Paul Shaw may be the man we’re looking for. Whilst he doesn’t have the style of a Burgess or the speed of Yemi, he has the control that’s been lacking and may be able to channel either Duffy, Yemi or the Twigglet into being an effective and championship winning forward line.

That said; I did poor similar praise on Gavin Johnson and Rufus Brevitt last year; and look what happened to them.

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Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

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