There hasn’t been much to shout about recently and I do feel that in terms of the league we’re all looking to next season now. Steve Evans, as head coach, will still be hoping to put a run together but I’m sure he’s telling himself privately that the current team aren’t going to be major Championship contenders.
It’s not that the club don’t have good players but in terms of quality, in terms of depth, we need more than we’ve got. And it’s going to take the summer transfer window to bring about serious change. But in the meantime, I’d like to see the players have a real go at making strides in the FA Cup. There’s no reason why they can’t.
Bolton Wanderers away tomorrow is a decent fourth-round tie for us. I’m tempted to say that it’s better than Eastleigh away, which is what we could have easily had.
Fair enough, Eastleigh are non-league opposition and 99 times out of 100 you’d expect to beat a non-league side but in that sort of fixture you’re on a hiding to nothing.
Without doubt it would have been televised and the only reason the TV cameras turn up to a tie like that is because they want to see an upset. Most of the country would have been backing Eastleigh and I don’t imagine the pitch would have been great. Even if you win the game, people say ‘well so you should!’
Bolton seem to be picking up a bit but they’ve clearly got problems and at our best, it’s a tie I’m confident of winning. We were a little unlucky not to nick a win there in October, one of Steve’s first games as head coach, and we’ve got a great chance of getting into the fifth round.
It’s been a while since we’ve done that in either cup competition. You have to go back to the 2012-13 season to find a time when the club last made inroads in the League Cup or the FA Cup. That wasn’t a great campaign by any stretch but I can remember the atmosphere surrounding the League Cup quarter-final against Chelsea and the FA Cup tie at home to Spurs. A bit more of that would be great for us all.
The reality with Steve is that he’s done a good job in his time as head coach. We’ve lost twice in our last 12 games, including the cup win over Rotherham, and that’s a very decent spell of form.
We’re hard to beat, we’re pretty resilient and there’s no longer any question of us getting sucked into trouble. I have to admit that there was a stage where I thought we might.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, Steve doesn’t have the resources he needs to make the leap and mount a serious challenge for promotion.
Funny things do happen in the Championship but the games are starting to count down now and if you’ve watched this league over the years, I think you’ll know that a 10-point gap at the start of February is a very big deficit. To make the play-offs you’re relying not only on a sensational run of form but on an awful lot of other teams tailing off.
For that reason, a strong finish in the league and a decent performance in the cup would take me into the summer with the feeling that we’ve got something to build on. It’s been a while since a manager here finished one season and started the next but we’d benefit from that sort of stability and we’d benefit from giving Steve a proper chance to have a go.
If he can use the next three months as a building block then he’d say himself that with a bit of backing, he’ll be in a position to make the club kick on next season.