First Week Review

Last updated : 19 August 2002 By Steve Hermon

I know we are only a week into the season and it looks like I am already reviewing the season, but my computer has been away for a week being upgraded, and I am kind of combining three articles in to one containing things I have wanted to write for the past week. So here goes...

Looking back to Sunday 11th August, the first day of the season at Bradford. I'd been back for one day and was still feeling the burn of the Portuguese heat, but it didn't dent my enthusiasm, I was thoroughly looking forward to the game. Unfortunately, the 0-0 result did dent it.

It wasn't a bad performance. Ivar "The Ice Man" Ingimarsson had a good debut, in the centre of the midfield, alongside Alex Rae and Denis Irwin had a steady debut at right-back, but we should be beating teams like Bradford home and away if we are to fulfil our Premiership ambitions. Also, bit part player or not, George Ndah should have put away the one-on-one he had with Gary Walsh.

Going in to the mid-week game and the 'big' local derby with Walsall, we had to get a much better result and thankfully we did, although some aspects of the game had me worried.

We have one the best midfields and attacks in the Division and there is no problem there, although players like Miller need to start scoring. He may not be happy with sitting on the bench, but if you are a striker who can't score, especially from the penalty spot, then you should expect to be a sub. Expect Deano to replace the young Scot at Pride Park on Saturday.

Going back to our team, yes in the last and middle third of the field, we could be unstoppable, but our defence needs improving.

It is no secret that I am not Paul Butler's No.1 fan. I'd have Ludo in there any day and I'd like to think every other fan would agree with me. Naylor, as well despite an improved performance against Burnley's talented right-winger, Glen Little, on Saturday, was a bit of a shambles in mid-week. Even Lescott didn't have a great game against the side from 'The Bus Stop In Aldridge' as The Stan Cullis Stand was heard singing.

We should have kept a clean sheet in that game, the goal we gave away was sloppy and we cannot afford to do that against Ravenelli and Co. on Saturday. It was Naylor who played a poor ball to Miller, who was dispossessed and Naylor being out of position, let the Walsall winger have time and space to Waltz into the area and pass to the unmarked Herivelto, who will not score and easier goal in his career.

Jones even pointed out his concern saying, 'we took our foot off the gas.' He added: "For 75% of the game we were excellent but we must work on the other 15." My question to you Dave is, what about the other 10%? Just kidding Dave.

Cameron was instrumental in that game, grabbing a brace, but he limped off last Saturday after a tackle by Burnley's Gareth Taylor. A member of the backroom staff told me twenty minutes later that he had a twisted knee, so you'd expect a two week delay. I joked that it will probably turn out to be ligament damage. Unfortunately I was right. It has now been revealed he'll be out for at least six weeks.

Dave Jones said: "We won't know how serious it is until he's seen the specialist and we get the results."

Luckily we had a good replacement for Cameron in the shape of Paul Ince. He came through the game well despite playing longer than everyone expected. He was talking all the time, not afraid to get the boot in and even his first touch was a great tackle. He roamed around the midfield and proved he is still 'The Guv'nor.'

The defence was much better but the true test for them will come this Saturday. Naylor's distribution was good, and Butler and Lescott worked well together. Denis Irwin's performance was summed up with that excellent free kick. He steeped up with confidence and not only did he get it past the keeper into the top corner but he had to bend it over the defender's head who was on the line. True Class. Now we know for certain who David Beckham got free kick lessons off!

Cooper did well when he came off the bench to score on Saturday and Jones may have a welcome selection headache.

Does he go for a pretty much straight swap and stick Cooper on the left wing, or is Ince fit enough to be thrown in to a battle at Pride Park? I personally think if he is fit enough then start him because it will be a battle and we need 'The Guv'nor.' If he did start then I wouldn't be surprised if he was taken off with twenty minutes. We'll have to see.

So Overall, solid starts for the trio of Irwin, Ince and 'The Ice Man', good competition for places in midfield and up front but I still feel there is something missing in defence.

I wish I could go to Derby on Saturday, but £22 and a Travel Club ticket is a bit too much for us poor students!

It is a hard one to predict, but I think we can get one over The Rams. It will be one of two things if that we're to happen. Either a 1-0 sneak victory or something like a 3-2 battled victory. As I have already said, we will have to wait and see...

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