It’s a preview of the next month but one that’s arriving fashionably late. Hopefully late like a Matty Virtue run to the near post as opposed to late like a James Husband tackle after the ball has sailed over his head…
I predicted a non-stop onslaught of Pool victories in the previous article and it shouldn’t surprise you that I’m going to do the same this – I find serious previews all a bit, I dunno…. serious and I’m hamstrung by the fact, I don’t really know that much about the other teams either.
I’ve not really got the hang of convincing the reader to read on have I?
Firstly, how did last month actually go?
February (and a bit of March):
First up were Northampton who looked really bad. We started the game with a bang and finished it with a bigger bang (Maxwell, to Yates…goal!) and not much happened in between. All a bit weirdly easy.
We seemed well set up for Ipswich but Critch went mad and brought back one up front as if to see if it was still shit (it was). Though we held our own for most of the first half, once we’d gone behind, there was no getting back into it. This was one of the most tepid displays of the season. Probably the poorest we’ve played since we faced them at home.
Rochdale at home saw a Sullay goal and not a lot else aside from the body blow of an injury to Big Marv. This meant we went to Portsmouth with a patched up backline and a sense of trepidation. We needn’t have worried as the unwritten rule that we play better when we’re facing better sides (except Ipswich, obviously) applied and Jerry scored possibly an even better goal than the one he got against the Cobblers.
If some doubts were set aside by that result, then Charlton away was probably the peak of the season to date. They were woeful, we were ruthless. Two more from the spot for Yates and an absolute cracker from Virtue saw the tangerine masses dreaming of bypassing Wembley altogether as we march on to the top of the league, casting all asunder in our wake…
Crewe put a spoke in our wheel by actually being pretty good and getting in our face. They might not be right up there, but few teams have looked as dynamic, energetic and well-drilled as they did. It looked like we might sneak the three points, but they weren’t to be denied. At least that won’t happen again…
Except it did and the Wimbledon game was almost a carbon copy as we struggled to cope with the intensity of the Dons in-yer-face play but nonetheless, again managed to go a goal in front. Sadly, once again Critch withdrew the attacking threat and once again (there’s a pattern here isn’t there?) we retreated, invited pressure on and allowed a side who should have been shattered after their high pressing, high tempo efforts, to score an equaliser. The tangerine masses were, safe to say, less optimistic after this one.
Finally, we faced off MK Dons who we beat 1-0 earlier in the year, in what I think was one of the least enjoyable games of football I’ve ever watched. We managed to repeat the scoreline and the game was even worse if that’s possible. They’re supposed to be a footballing side, in the same way we are theoretically supposed to be one, but if that’s what happens when two teams who allegedly ‘play the right way’ meet, give me Pulis vs Allardyce any day of the week… Thank the lord for Jerry Yates! (and tbf, Jimmy ‘Maldini’ Husband)
14 points from 21 isn’t bad at all. In fact, it is, as my dear old Grandad would have said ‘better than poke in the eye with a sharp stick’ – After the (real) Dons game, I was convinced we didn’t have what it takes. After the (fake) Dons game, it’s all looking quite promising again, despite there not being too much to call between any of the last 3 matches.
I can’t decide whether to be optimistic or to self protect via pessimism. We don’t always feel like a top six team, in fact quite often, we feel a bit mid table, but the table is slowly shaping in our favour…. I think part of my dilemma is that we keep getting points, but the same issues remain – we can’t seem to make sense of how to unpick less fancied teams and we lack strikers, especially in the continued and worryingly prolonged absence of the Goal Machine. Are we good enough? I don’t know!
We’ve got Fleetwood whose mighty following will no doubt do something well ‘ard before the game, like 4 of them getting the tram down and standing about kicking a bin a bit muttering ‘Cod Army.’ before getting bored and getting the tram back home. We’ve had a good run against them recently and seemed to have the measure of Barton. Larry though is a different proposition and he’ll be (if he actually still feels stuff, cos after his last spell, I’m not sure he’s that arsed about anything anymore) desperate to rub our noses in it. We might be better away from home, but it’s Fleetwood, so it’s a Pool win.
The ‘slightly slippy patch in the corner grudge match of the century‘ is next up. Yes, Burton have conveniently used a little break for Covid to nip out and buy a cloned youthful version of the Brazil 1970 squad to replace their shit team from before Christmas, but we’ve got to beat them after giving them so much stick over the postponement. Therefore it’s a Pool win. (Also, probably best to pretend the whole Donny game not happening either thing didn’t happen whilst we’re mocking JFH at full time…)
I feel like we’ve already played Oxford away from home, but we can’t have and that must have been last year. It’s all bleeding into one now. It’s just football. All the time. None stop football. Their season has been a bit like ours. Start shite, get better, but not better enough to be right up there. Their kit is yellow, which is sort of vaguely like tangerine. We’ve therefore got their number and Pool win again.
Peterborough are on fire, but were a bit rubbish against us. We shouldn’t win this, seeing as they’re looking good to go clear at the top by virtue of games in hand over Hull, but that’s precisely why we can win it. We’re always like that. We’ll win the games we shouldn’t and cock up the games we should. It’s practically in our DNA. In all seriousness, I always fancy us against a side who will have a go, and Posh will definitely have a go… so therefore… Pool win.
How many games have we got this month? A million? There’s no respite at all as we face Plymouth at home in the final game of March in the reverse of the opening day fixture. How long ago that seems, Home Park, bathed in sunshine, watching the Pool playing an exciting new brand of 4-3-3-based passing, pressing football. Ok, we lost, but it was surely it was just teething problems… How many of us honestly foresaw the changes that would come with time and that we’d be reborn as a tough tackling, often quite direct 4-4-2, desperately pinning our hopes on return for Gary Madine? Not me. So, who will win? We will… obviously…
Frankly, I haven’t a clue if we’ll win these games or not, but with Madine and hopefully the Viking to come in, we’re in with more than a shout still. If we can find the attacking intent to go with our superb defence, we’ve got more than a chance. Maybe Embleton (though he didn’t really shine on Tuesday) can add some gloss as he seems to have a shot, a run and a pass in him? Maybe the return of CJ will add that extra cutting edge? Maybe the sheer weight of games could even be a good thing, meaning we keep ticking over whilst others lose rhythm through rest?
Who can say for sure? We’re not done yet though. All to play for!
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