The start of the season has been mixed. Let’s be honest, we expect to be challenging for the title and some of the teams in our league have dramatically less resources than ourselves. Looking at our league position a detached observer might say we’ve made a steady start. No we haven’t, we’ve made an unsteady start to our attempt to challenge for the title. It’s very early in the season so is there anything to conclude?
We have tried two formations thus far, one striker and two strikers. The first formation was attacking, but left us open ,the second has looked less productive but more solid. This is a horrible over-simplification. It masks a defence getting used to each other, a midfield that has lacked stability and that is getting used to new duties. Johnny Hunt’s return has brought mixed reactions from the fans: is he a defender out of position? Is he a striker with limited appeal? Is he a solid midfielder in the mould of Kieran Durkan? We haven’t reached a conclusion on that yet.
In an earlier article I suggested Durrell could be an enigma (he also looks a bit like an echidna, but that’s irrelevant) and I stand by that observation. Can he score goals at this level? Can we form the team around him? or has he got to bend?. Wes York has made an eye-catching start, so did Cheesy. I’ll leave that comment hanging there.
Wilkin’s managerial start has confused me. I find his interviews entirely unenlightening, probably because that is his intention. I was surprised how attacking his first set up was, I was surprised he re-signed Hunt, whilst talking about strikers. I have been unimpressed by his substitutions, doubtful about his analysis of the defence, and on Tuesday I thought we lost because Hunt and Evans both needed a rest. Hunt has played 3 games in quick succession, after not playing a competitive game for a long time, and Evans is a young player who also lacks match hardening . It’s a comment with hindsight, but Bristol are not very good and perhaps we could have battered them with the more attacking formation.
Having been a bit hard on Wilkin allows me to slither to my only conclusion thus far. He is a brave, decisive manager. The evidence for this is ; the Hunt signing, his continued confidence in Hudson, dropping Durrell to change the formation and his avoidance of a knee-jerk signing of another passing midfielder. I think this is particularly brave because he has stated his concerns about Harris and Keates. In the short term we look like missing these players, but he needs flexibility after Christmas, and he’s wisely kept that. It’s a brave man that doesn’t jump to conclusions.