- Burnley lost their last league game but won in midweek in the Carling Cup, which incidentally we have decided to skip for the second season in a row after embarrassing first round defeats against lower league opposition. It does have the advantage of allowing us ‘to concentrate on the league’ as the old saying goes when a team is knocked out of any cup competition.
- After a great win away at Preston last week (3-0) we are up there in the play-off zone once again, but early season tables are just for fools. So much can happen as a result of just one game. We are known to suffer attacks of vertigo - maybe we need to become known for attacks of Virgo?
Anyway the sun is out, the sky is blue, only Burnley can spoil my view of the fourth game in a row against northern opposition. They certainly spoiled it last season when they were the first team to come to Layer Road looking for a draw and left with a point and a 0-0 result after the most boring performance of the season.
Well a much better attendance this week and it was evident in the better voice the crowd gave in support of the team out there on the pitch. An extra 500 people crammed into the ground, and the away support was allowed to roam across the whole of the Layer Road end this week – even though they could still stand at arm’s length from each other.
One of the most noticeable differences between the two sets of supporters today was the range of chants available just as a result of the name of the team. While we can pick anything from ‘U-ni-ted’, ‘The U’s’ (a haunting sound after a drummed intro – which works best at night games), ‘Col U’ (after a bit of co-ordinated hand clapping) to that variation on a theme ‘Oh – When – The – U’s’, poor old Burnley could only muster ‘Burn – lee’ (clap, clap, clap).
Plenty of action outside the ground this week for the ball-boys. It was an average match for the number of times a ball cleared the stands. I don’t know what the record is, but at one game last season I lost count at 8 times in the first 10 minutes. Perhaps someone will let me know. Maybe there’s a case for employing a Wimbledon (tennis) style of ball management. For matches against Burnley it could be the best entertainment of the day.
As for the match we let ourselves down badly today. Teddy Sheringham was playing a different game to the rest of the team. I’m not sure if it’s his fault or that of the other ten, but there’s a link missing somewhere. In the first half it went 0-1, 0-2, and then 1-2 just before half-time to give us some thought of a second half revival.
- the kids’ penalty competition, which we lost,
- ‘Over the Wall’ in which one competitor did quite well in the 30 seconds allowed for chipping as many shots as possible over a wooden defence into an empty goal (maybe the players should be doing this!),
- The announcement that Ipswich were losing at Watford.
The panic set in. No safety announcement at half-time today. Sorry, but that means 0/10 for the backroom boys for this week. I’d like to report that the absence of this vital information sent the crowd into mass hysteria and glancing for the nearest exits, but in reality who else even noticed? Anyway the teams are back on the field and it’s time for the onslaught.
Only, no-one gave the correct script to the players. George Elokobi decided it was too easy being just one goal down and he conceded a pointless penalty which was converted to make it 1-3. The fans did come alive again towards the end, especially when we scored quite late (2-3) and then got the announcement of 5 minutes added time. All to no avail and our first defeat of the season.
At the end of the day we fall back on the fact that:
- we have a two week break until the next match (and there’s still some cricket to watch on the telly),
- we have 5 points more than we did at this stage last season (and are 9 places higher in the league),
- Hull are below us (having stolen two of best players from last season) and Ipswich aren’t top.