The view from the Pu - January
Tuesday, 4th Feb 2020 17:50 by Steve Hardy
A month that started with a pair of thrashings for Cardiff and Swansea, included the annual beasting of Leeds at Loftus Road, but ended with disappointment in the FA Cup and transfer market is reviewed by columnist Steve Hardy.
Another month ticks by and rather like December a month that started brightly ended as flat as a witches left (or right) breast. Six games were played, split evenly between three loses and three defeats, let’s have a look at the good and not so good.
Let’s start with the flavour of the month, our new defensive saviour. During that Leeds game he was simply poetry in motion, if the ball was loose he smashed it in to the stands, if it was floating at the back post he would nod it wide to preserve the cleanest of sheets and if the ball was free to hit from twelve yards he would safely play it back to Liam Kelly. Take a bow Patrick Bamford, one of the best defenders we have seen in W12 for a long time.
This joke would have been a lot funnier if he hadn’t actually scored two goals last week for a change, but in all seriousness we do seem to have landed ourselves with a quality player in Conor Masterson. It’s very typical for us to go over the top when a player bursts through – see Antonio German for example – and Masterson will undoubtedly get found out a few times but he doesn’t seemed phased by being thrown in at all and in my eyes I would say he is the most comfortable of all our defenders with the ball at his feet. Like I say he will most certainly struggle at some point so it’s worth keeping an element of perspective but with our season now effectively over I would like to see him used regularly between now and May, ideally playing alongside Barbet with one eye on next year’s campaign. For what it’s worth my player of the month and a well done to the club for – I’m guessing – scouting wisely.
So finally, finally we managed to cut loose on not just one team but two in the space of one week at the beginning of the month. Ever since that first half an hour against Luton it has been patently obvious that we are capable of taking most teams in this division to the cleaners (on our day), however due to our own propensity to gift goals and a regular lack of belief in our own ability we have been unable to do this, so it was good to see us finally hand it to the opposition. I’ll admit I was probably as shocked by the Cardiff result as the Cardiff players themselves, I really felt after the ending to the Hull match and the atmosphere leaving the ground and online in the following days that we may be in for second half to the season like last year, so credit to Warburton for pulling that out of the hat. It bodes well for next season that we are capable of playing in this way, obviously the departure of Eze is inevitable, however if we can hang on to the likes of Chair and Bright over the summer and add to the spine of this team then I do actually feel quite positive for further progress next season.
By my reckoning it’s been a strange season at Loftus Road, a lot more comfortable in terms of league standing than we thought it would ever be mixed in with farcical games and goals galore at both ends of the pitch. So to add to this the club decided to run its own goal of the season competition for the Swansea FA Cup game. A very good marketing ploy to get people to take advantage of the cheap ticket offers for the game, however it would be handy if they could let you know before the game that they will be running the competition. For my money Scowen’s was the winner, an absolute barnburner from an acute angle. I was sad to see Scowen leave, I know he gets a lot of stick online but for me he always gave 100%, never shirked a challenge and was always there when called upon. I know he hasn’t had the best of times since Holloway left but I felt he was our type of player, never the most luxurious but never stopped running and he loved a booking as much as Samba Diakite. Best of luck up north Josh and thanks for the efforts. It’s also worth pointing out that Scowen was signed on a free and sold for the usual ‘undisclosed’ fee, but profit is profit I suppose. Also sad to the see the back of the BFG, hopefully back next season but I’m not holding my breath. Best of luck Toni and thanks for the goal at Forest last season.
I ended the last section by praising our FA Cup third round performance and I start this one by criticising our fourth round selection and ultimately performance. A lot has already been written about the team selected for the Wednesday game so I won’t rake over old wounds but lord give me strength, I cannot understand why he didn’t start Bright. I get the whole games in quick succession thing but we never win at Blackburn and our league season is ultimately over so why not go for it? A deep cup run can take you into mid-April (semis) or ultimately late-March (quarters) whereas now our season is effectively done by the end of January. I know the games have been exciting this season but how dull is it now going to be for the next 17 games? I can imagine we’re all super excited for Stoke at home on February 15 or the real six pointer that we’ve got up in Middlesbrough on April 4. It does wind me up when we just toss our place in the cup out of the window every year, and I know we ultimately would have got our arses handed to us by Man City but like Clive stated, how excited did we get last year with a Friday night game against bloody Watford. Remember that City game under Warnock in the Premier League, that’s what we could have had.
Whilst I’m moaning about the FA Cup, can someone tell me why we have signed Jack Clarke? Seeing as we already have about 729 players to fill those roles behind a lone striker I was a little surprised by this and then when you factor into this that we have a young Olamide Shodipo just back from injury, who may I also add has more senior starts than Jack Clarke, I just don’t see it myself. I reiterate that our season is over now and if we’re going to start planning ahead for who will or won’t be here next year then surely giving Shodipo a handful of games between now and the end of the season to get a good look would be ideal. I’m not preaching that Shodipo is some sort of all-conquering messiah here, in fact I think he is a very basic player, but he is our player and for my money I don’t see much improvement from the limited minutes I’ve seen of Clarke. I’ve seen some people suggest that Clarke may be included in some sort of deal for Spurs to sign Eze and if that is the case then I sincerely hope that he’s already eating raw steak and drinking raw eggs for the breakfast as the lad looks like he would be blown away in a light gale. A very strange signing on the face of it.
I’m not going to discuss the Brentford away game as it was the most inevitable to happen this season, however this did appear to be the game where the curtain ultimately came down on Joe Lumley’s season. As a lot of people have written previously, I like Lumley and I genuinely believe there is a quality goalkeeper there but he must be left out of the team for the rest of the season now for his own good. By the end of that first half it felt like cruelty keeping him out there, no longer do we see the loud confident keeper from last season and instead he appears to be a shadow of his former self. Take him out of the firing line now, give him some time away, and maybe get him on one of those LADS LADS LADS holidays with Ryan Manning again and then hopefully next season the old Joe returns. Fair play to the supporters at Brentford for the support he got in the second half but hopefully now we don’t see him – for his own good – until the ‘lap of honour’ at the end of the season.
Not really elsewhere this point but whilst they say familiarity breeds contempt it can also give you comfort and provide you safety. On that note, how good does it feel to finally be back in the glowing warmth of 16th place? Only a point clear of 17th though, so maybe the rest of the season will be exciting after all?
January grade – C
Links >>> Follow Steve’s match-by-match reviews on Instagram >>> August 18 >>> September 18 >>> October 18 >>> November 18 >>> December 18 >>> January 19 >>> February 19 >>> March 19 >>> April 19 >>> 18/19 Season Review >>> August 19 >>> September 19 >>> October 19 >>> November 19 >>> December 19
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