EVERYTHING was very positive from Saturday’s season opener against a very strong Burnley side who I think will be up there at the end of the season.
I was very pleased with what I saw and I would have taken a draw before the game because Burnley have just come down from the Premiership and they are still a very strong outfit.
If any of the three teams that have come down are capable of bouncing straight back then I think they are the ones that would be strong enough.
But I’m just absolutely gutted because I thought we did enough and created enough opportunities to probably win that game.
You could see that Mirco Antenucci was hungry for a goal when he came on. I know people will say he’s greedy and this and that but you tell me a striker that isn’t greedy. And if he wasn’t greedy then he probably wouldn’t have taken that shot on.
But he’s got that in his locker, we’ve seen him do that and while nine times out of ten that would go over the bar, on this particular occasion he has struck it so sweetly and no keeper would have saved that. It was a great finish that gets him up and running for the season now so he should be full of confidence.
I would still start with Chris Wood but I think we need to get a little bit more support up to him quicker. He was isolated on a number of occasions and he needs help and support. The midfield three have got to realise when to go and when that ball goes up towards Wood, he’s got to have people around him and he’s got to have a couple of options for a pass. He was just a little bit alone up there and the distances between himself and the midfield were too big.
But I wouldn’t change the formation because I think it works. There’s a few teething problems but it’s the first game of the season and now you get more of an idea of what more you need to do to get that balance right and to understand your job properly.
We had defensive frailties that we suffered last season and particularly Giuseppe Bellusci – he still has that mistake in him and that little bit of rashness about his game which needs to be worked on so that he can command his area. You’ve got to make sure you command that area properly and make it yours. I just feel that he never did that last season and on a couple of occasions on Saturday I was just expecting a little bit more.
Sol Bamba, to me, is solid – a great signing and you want somebody like that who is always talking to the players, who is leading by example and reads the game superbly. He’s strong, he’s powerful in the air and he’s quick – there’s not many people that are going to get past him or beat him with strength. He’s capable all over the pitch and he’s good on the deck – for a big man he plays the game nice and sensible.
So maybe during the season we will be looking to get another centre half who is possibly a little bit more like Bamba – no nonsense and not so bothered about the technical side of the game.
Bellusci can spray the ball 35 yards and he did that a couple of times on Saturday and that’s fantastic. But you are paid to do a job and you are paid to defend.
Overall, though, they always say you never change a side that’s not lost so I would stick with it though I am expecting a number of changes for Thursday night’s League Cup game at Doncaster.
I think of the debutantes out there on Saturday, what we saw of Stuart Dallas – the glimpses – it’s exciting for what’s to come when he’s fully fit. He didn’t really look fully fit but I think Uwe Rosler did the right thing starting him. The fans want to see the new signings so it’s a big lift for the crowd and a lift for the players.
He showed great touches, he gets at players, he joins in and links up well with the players and I think him and Charlie Taylor have a good understanding between the two of them.
I thought all the debutantes had solid games and Tom Adeyemi is one of those people who people never really noticed because everyone is looking at the flair players.
The work he did sort of went unnoticed but he did a lot of good things – he broke things up and made sure he was in an area where the ball couldn’t get through to the strikers. He was nipping in and he is very important in that role but he went a bit unnoticed, the poor lad.
He’s not in a trendy or eye-catching position but he’s doing a fantastic job in a little bit like a David Batty role. He’s breaking things up and starting the moves for the flair players to go on and finish the job off.