I have read an reread Dave's post on last night. I agree with all of what he says, but I do feel the need for a moan of my own.
Firstly can someone tell the manager and/or the players that the introduction of the prices for next year's season tickets is not the time to play the worst football (at home) of the season. I haven't read last night's program yet, but I'm guessing there will be something more about the tickets in it, and this after the prices were published the night we 'scraped' past Hartlepool 2-1.
A run of eleven unbeaten is, actually, quite fantastic. I know we are in the third division, and we are a big club and all that, but you can only beat those that are in front of you, and we are averaging two points per game. You have to go back to 1986/87 to find a season where the team in second place of the third division (in all it's names) had an average of more than 2 points per game. Since we switched to three points for a win in 1981/82 there has only been that one season where an average of two points per game was not enough to finish in the top two. The last season of two points for a win we were in the old Third Division and we managed 59, but with 3 points for a win we would have managed 84.
Maybe Norwich and Leeds are going to pick up fewer points in the last 19 and 21 games respectively. Maybe 90 points will be enough to win the division, but either way our side has a better average now than it has finished a season with since I've been watching. Our Football League Championship season we finished with 91 points. I know we fell apart at the end, but after 27 games we had 56 points, we currently have 54. It's not exactly a complete disaster.
Sure, losing at home was a disappointment. I truly believed that after we scored that late equaliser against Swindon we would go the whole season unbeaten at home. Clearly it was not to be, but as Chicago Addick says, there is a lot of football to be played, and many twists and turns to come.
The biggest worry, though, is that I actually believe that Parkinson is getting the best out of what he has. We don't have a natural left sided player to play on the wing. Wagstaff has done a good job out there, but to be fair to him he is young, and he is (like most of the squad) right footed. He looked good for a couple of games, and the side looked balanced too, but the Millwall game was too much for him, and I believe that using him sparingly is the best for both the player and the team. Neither Bailey nor Shelvey are left wingers. They have both done a job there, but they both look like central midfielders playing out wide.
Unless we can do a deal to swap one of our central midfielders for a winger then we have to accept that we are going to be hopelessly one sided. We are going to be easy to predict with Lloyd Sam being the focus of most of our attacks, and our left flank our weakness as the 'winger' in front of Basey (and Youga soon - hopefully) is often wandering into the centre. A note for Grant Basey, he has suffered a lot of criticism recently. Let's try to remember that he is still very young; he has had little or no protection from the player in front of him; he gets forward and creates things, like Mooney's goal last week; he is our reserve left back - in an ideal world he would only play a handful of games in a season. Just how good a reserve left back do we expect to have in the third division?
So if Parkinson is getting the most (give or take) out of the players we have, and there is little chance of signing any new players we probably have to accept that Norwich and Leeds are going to prove difficult to catch. This is a depressing thought as we really do need to get out of this division at the first attempt if we have any realistic ambitions of being safe in the Championship if and when we get there. However, the playoffs are still a route to promotion after all.
My only moan about last night was that I didn't think the foul on Nicky Bailey was all that bad, and from what I've read elsewhere the TV cameras confirmed as much. I don't mind a player doing what he can to gain an advantage, but to have rolled around on the floor like he'd been shot while Orient scored then running half the length of the pitch to complain about it made Bailey look like an unprofessional spoiled child. It also made him look like a cheat. He has been irreplaceable for us this season, but last night he was positively average (like many of his team mates). It is time for this side of his game to go.
On the whole it was a disappointing performance; it was a very disappointing result, but we still have a better than average points per game than has been needed for a top two finish in 29 of the last 30 seasons. If either Norwich or Leeds go on a run of one win in four we could be right back in it. We need to pick ourselves up and go out on Saturday and continue our record breaking season.
Up the Addicks!