I don't think too many fans would have been surprised with that result, but I suspect many fans feel frustrated at the manner of the performance against Middlesbrough. I'm feeling a little like a broken record as I once again bemoan the lack of leadership on the pitch. It is fantastic that we are giving young players a chance but there has to be a balance struck with youth and experience. It feels as though our team is made up of varying degrees of youth, with a few slightly more experienced players thrown into the mix. I don't think it helps matters that our oldest players on the pitch were our attackers, the most experienced of which spent most of the match hobbling around the pitch. We need leadership in defence. Desperately.
I'm not going to crucify Tom Lees here; he's largely been an excellent signing. He made a mistake - it happens. He will feel that hurt and embarrassment for a long time. I still remember a missing a penalty when I was sixteen in a Sunday league game so it must be infinitely worse to bounce back from that sort of mistake, but Tom Lees will. There is no point being hysterical about this result, disappointing as it was. I've said before that this season is a transitional season. We are blooding youngsters so that hopefully next season we will have a more solid foundation to push on from. Game time alone does not develop players though. They need the right sort of experience; they need guidance and leadership early on in their first team careers. We need a Captain. We need a leader.
In January we should be trawling through the Premier League clubs for veteran defenders who would be willing to come on loan or for free. We don't need a world class defender coming to the end of their career who is looking for one last payday. We need a solid, competent defender. We don't want a carthorse, obviously, but what I am saying is that this player's mental attributes may be more important than their physical ability. With the right leader, the rest of our defence could find that extra ability and confidence that improves the team overall. The last thing we need is another young player looking for experience.
For the first half against 'Boro I thought we looked ok. We had the better chances but 'Boro looked a better team. We were carved open for their first, and the second goal was just a freak occurrence. Tom Lees will take the blame but I don't think he was helped by the players around him not showing for the ball. Yes, I know he should have just hoofed it down field or passed it back to the 'keeper. It's easy to play FIFA but when you are on the ball, on the pitch and can't see from the bird's eye view we get then it's understandable that some decision making may be compromised.
Adam Reach continues to improve which means he will probably be the target of several transfer bids in January. It may be that his biggest contribution to our season comes from being sold for a huge profit to help our Profit and Sustainability issues. Having bought him for £5M, his value must easily have doubled by now. What I don't know is whether 'Boro have a sell-on clause for Reach. When a player is sold, the transfer fee does not always go to the selling club in full. There are a number of fees that can eat into the sum paid. If we did sell for £10M, and 'Boro have a 20% sell-on clause then it suddenly becomes far less appealing to cash-in by selling Reach. Unless we can receive double what we paid for Reach, net, then I would be reluctant to sell as it will not give us enough scope to replace his goals and strengthen elsewhere.
On Tuesday we travel to QPR, who despite being eight places below us in the table could go above us should they beat us. I've inserted a screenshot of the live Championship table as of 15:25 on 20/10 below:
We should not be complacent with our relatively high position in the league as we are only a couple of bad results from potentially dropping like a rock. After QPR we travel to Birmingham, before hosting Norwich on November 3rd. The next game is the Steel City Derby against Sheffield United. Just as I gave a slow-clap to those who decided it was a good idea to play Leeds on a Friday night, I would like to give an even slower clap to the idiots who decided it was a good idea to play the Steel City Derby on a Friday night.
Looking at the next four games, I would like to think nine-points would be achievable. My gut feeling is we will get five-points; a defeat at QPR, a win at Birmingham and then draws against Norwich and United.
On a slightly related note, my output on Now We Live has slowed a little in recent weeks as I'm dealing with a shoulder injury that is making it painful to type. I'm having surgery next week which will reduce my output even further. If anyone would like to write a blog on Sheffield Wednesday as a guest contributor, that would be most welcome. I'm not in a position to pay anyone and this would be on a voluntary basis only. If you are interested, please fill out the form on our submissions page or send us a message on our Facebook or Twitter page.
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Critic. Writer. Thinker. Observer. Creator of nowwelive.com.