A mere three wins and two draws since the telephone wires in this part of town last murmured with web traffic, I arose this morning to discover the internet is back. No fanfare, nothing. Just four steady lights in place of a frantically flashing red one. Like it never happened. I look upon these things stoically though; it’s like Thierry Henry packing up his season early. He was injured, as was my internet. Now it’s back and I’m fit and raring to go for a summer of improbable rumours culminating in the inevitable signing of some unknown French 16-year-old from somewhere like Avignon. It’ll happen, you mark my words.
So anyway, the league runners-up arrived at the Grove on Sunday, and despite the advantage of having an extra man, we clung on for dear life to get our now requisite 1-1. (Seven in total in all competitions). We were on the back foot much of the first half, and we were on the back foot again following their equaliser. The bit in between we were dominant and should have won it – but toyed with them too much and didn’t take our chances.
The way the Russians kept coming at us was not just impressive, but to me signified the thing we need to locate perhaps more than anything this summer: a never-say-die team ethic. Looking at them and then looking at us, it seemed to me that at times we miss a bit of their power, experience and attitude.
For those reasons, I think that whoever comes in this summer needs a) experience and b) a massive presence on the pitch. As well as securing a couple of players like that, (who are they – ha! I have no idea), we need to keep the experienced players we have. No more haemorrhaging of experience, that’s crucial.
The Grove’s over for three months and for the most part I’ve enjoyed it. The first year was probably always going to be hard, and at times it has been with all the daft goals we let in, but we lost only one game in 27 games there and that, by any standards, is a good record.