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What lies ahead?

Son of Berti

What a great pre-season it has been! I’ve been to every match and, frankly, I don’t want pre-season to end.

With the bitter reflections of last season still fresh in my mind, I have been thrilled by the passing and movement that RM is keen to instil, and that is rapidly becoming this team’s trademark.

The early matches amply demonstrated the skills of the new players while also showing that Jimmy Spencer is back to his best although he still has a tendency to drop his head when things aren’t going his way, which has a negative effect on both his own game, and that of his team-mates. To be at his best, he has to turn this force into a desire to do better.


Jon Stead caught the eye immediately at Arnold Town and he is definitely ‘a class above’. We can count ourselves lucky to have him.

Without exception, the Dutch players have great skills and love to be on the ball.

When ‘The Nobster’ comes on, he looks a different player to the hothead that got himself into so much trouble last season. He seems to have leashed those gremlins in his head and instead, his vision and accuracy of long-ball passing must surely now mark him out as a player who hasn’t yet reached his full potential.

Sport is as much in the head as it is in natural ability. If any sportsman (or woman) gets his head together, he will perform at his best. It is the difference between being demoralised when things are going wrong, and having the right mindset to understand what needs to change to put them right. As they say in Holland ….. Door wilskracht sterk! (strength through willpower). If LN has truly got his head together now, he is destined to play at a much higher level. He has natural ability and vision in abundance.

The team is very attack-minded and as thrilling as this is to watch, fans have become very aware that when we lose possession to a high-pressing team, what is our Achilles heel at present will be quickly and ruthlessly exploited. We haven’t shown the same urgency to track back and form a second line of defence quick enough, thus leaving the back four vulnerable and without support under counter-attack.

We hear that RM is still keen to recruit 3 more players. One or preferably two of them must be centre-backs. Alan Smith has started all matches in this position and he brings his uncompromising style to quick effect. But he is no longer the strongest of players and will surely pick up injuries playing the way he does. I am a little concerned that he lacks the discipline to pick out his man quickly enough and close him out. Scot Bennett is very capable of playing the ball out of defence but we will be exposed if he has to miss a game.

I am perplexed by Haydn Hollis’ performances. Two seasons ago – to me he was a stand-out player and seemed destined for stardom. But something has gone wrong. He isn’t playing his natural game and his long-distant passing is only marginally more accurate than mine! He can pick a pass out and has good vision, only in the execution is he lacking.

I have a feeling that giving him the captain’s arm-band for a period last season was his undoing. Any fool can pick faults, and I’m among the best of them! The clever ones can see what needs to be done to turn things around and I really am at a loss to see what it is that HH has to do to get back to his best. Perhaps put himself under less pressure; just relax and enjoy it, maybe?

And, if we need two big strong brutes for centre-backs, who should the third person be? Well my choice would be Steve McLaughlin who looks like he is being ushered to the door marked ‘Exit’ across the river. That man is inventive and is capable of producing magical assists. Mystic Meg I am not and I can’t predict what the season ahead holds for us. Promotion is potential ours but there are some big ifs.


If we can shore up the defence.

If we gel quick enough to get traction.

If we get more protection from referees to allow our natural talent to shine. If we can avoid getting too many injuries in what will surely be a war of attrition over a long, long season.


If we, the fans, get behind the team, and turn up in numbers to support the lads even (or especially) when things aren’t going our way. Samen, door wilskracht sterk.

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I think to some degree Haydn Hollis is just unsettled, though he doesn't seem like the player who grasped the chance at starting regularly and I can only say it must be down to confidence. It will help him, if Moniz remains in charge this upcoming season because that will give him stability - yet many fans are now telling me they think his future is up.

Noble seems to be the completely opposite, he seems to be taking the pre-season as his chance to force his way into the spot light.

With all the signings, I thought he may fade a bit but he's right up there in my opinion.

As for the squad, I think we just lack a real leader with presence in the centre back role. I think Bennett will take a bit of time to stamp his authority, he his still fairly young and so we need an experienced head who can offer the same type of leadership in my opinion.

I wouldn't risk too much, re-evaluate in September but tidy the defence up.

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I would not claim 'any fool' can pick up faults, half them around where I am sat are barely able to speak, let alone discuss football. It is apparent when mistakes happen, it filters around the ground and gets fans talking or complaining.

It takes someone with sense to stop the mistakes before they happen.

Ricardo has enough time to amend the issues we have, so we can go forward. I am not concerned, I think HH will be fine too.

People forget he's still young.

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HH played his best football when he was along side Alan Sheehan, who talked to him told him where to go and was always available to receive the ball from him.

I said at the time he left, we would not miss Sheehan the player, but would miss Sheehan the leader, and as yet no one has replaced him.


Hollis is a stopper, and good at it, but we are asking him to be more, and that's were it comes unstuck. I think that giving him the captains arm band was an attempt to show that the manager had faith in him.

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HH played his best football when he was along side Alan Sheehan, who talked to him told him where to go and was always available to receive the ball from him.

I said at the time he left, we would not miss Sheehan the player, but would miss Sheehan the leader, and as yet no one has replaced him.

Spot on. Gill Swerts though has apparently said he would like to help bring up the younger players in the squad, and with him being an experienced defensive midfielder he has the qualities to improve both his defensive skill and most importanty his ability on the ball, so if he could lead Hollis it would only mean good things

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