Pushing On Part One
player, technically he isn't the best footballer in the team, does he make mistakes, yes but who in the team doesn't. But does he make as many mistakes as certain other players, no, no where near. He is a strong battling player who gives everything he has each game, yes other players under scrutiny do the same but they are not centre half's. Neil has the job of cleaning up and dealing with quick pacey forwards, tall stocky target men, poaching strikers and he dies this week in week out, will he win every battle of course not no one person can win every battle, he has to be that last line and he does not get enough praise for this. Aside from playing ability and effort Neil has had to wear the captains armband recently, and as soon as he did I noticed a huge difference. He raised his game, he lead by example and got the players into the right frame of mind, his attitude helped the team, his willingness to come out of his comfort zone and join in attacks suddenly came into focus and this is something we don't usually see from him, and when he did he played a huge part in one of our recent goals. Neil deserves a lot more praise than he gets, especially lately, and in my view should still be wearing the captains armband.
Stephen McGinn is another player who people sometimes don't value, sometimes seen as a fringe player. But McGinn did more in the middle of the park over three games than the man he replaced has in two seasons. He is comfortable on the ball and is capable of making some sublime passes and crosses. He is not afraid to get stuck into challenges and put himself in harms way to win back possession. He is another player who also knows how to slow down the tempo of the game, assess the situation and pick out the best option, something a majority of our players sometimes struggle with. McGinn in my view should have done enough to cement his place in the team alongside loanee Conor Coady. If McGinn in correctly utilized peoples opinions will change, he will be recognized as more than a fringe player, people will realise he is an important part of this team.
One For Next Season?? Stefan Scougall
When Nigel Clough stated that new signing Stefan Scougall was one for next season one can only believe he underestimated just how good this lad is. Like a pit bull Scougall is tenacious, he just wants to take that ball away from the opposition and never looks like giving in. He never leaves the position with more than half a yard of space, in their face and kicking at feet Scougall is never put off by the strength or build of any player. This added to the sharp bursts of pace, a confidence to beat players and find space out of nowhere leaves defenders scratching their heads and wondering what they can do to stop him. A player with his ability and obvious passion for the game is a rare find, and young Stefan Scougall will become one of our most valued key players, but I don't think we will have to wait for next season before this happens.
Is It Finally Diego Time??
The Cup Run
Cup runs can kick start a turnaround, with the exception of Wigan who won the cup last year not many teams go down after a good cup run, the momentum the victories build can inject confidence, they can rejuvenate moral and boost a team. But within this cup run also holds a danger. Because of match congestion our season is going to be an uphill struggle, and with the proposition of a chance to visit Wembley only one game away we risk distraction. Also we risk complete moral destruction if you know who meet us in the next round and we have a disastrous game. But in circumstances like these it pays off to look in a positive light, the longer we can keep this cup run going more players will believe we can beat anyone, and as long as we stick to what we are good at the confidence of a cup run could see us over the line to survival.
Loud And Proud
One giant factor we can not overlook is us, the fans, the ones singing our hearts out. And whilst some plastic fans only turn up to big games and sit on their hands the ones travelling the country, at The Lane every week, ripping their vocal chords to shreds to encourage their team, well it doesn't go unnoticed. Scougall has stated he has never seen anything like it when we are in full voice, he states it drives him on. Jose Baxter says when we sing the hairs on his neck stand up and he wants to give everything he has. Opposition players get caught up in the noise and switch off, we make a difference. Whilst I am not one of these fans that thinks we should never boo, and only ever say nice things and happily clap along even when we are subjected to tripe (you all know who you are) on this occasion I agree with one of their fundamental beliefs, and I have always agreed with them in regards to this, when the team is struggling they need us. This does not mean we have to be mindless and just ignore everything that goes wrong but we do need to be there week in week out, there to blow the roof off the ground with noise, to show what everything they do means to us, to drive them forward and push them on, they need us to show them exactly what this club means to us, and as long as we can do this things will improve.
Next up is Gillingham, and like every game from now until the season draws to an end it is must win, so get ready for a hectic few weeks and twists and turns, and lets hope the team just remember "it's in our hands".