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Apr 22, 2005
Evening all, I don't post on any messageboards anymore but browse from time to time and use to post on here a bit. Anyway, I've been away travelling for a year or so, Swansea was first game since being back, and today my second. To maybe give a bit of perspective I thought I'd leave my thoughts on the current team, since my previous memories of the team before I went away.

The defence. From when I can remember last year, albeit in the Championship, we were conceding far too many goals from set plays. I've been keeping up with our highlights, (with thanks to virginmedia!) and it still seems we are struggling to defend effectively in these areas, today providing the proof yet again. Apart from that, we looked pretty tight and even against Swansea, didnt really look like conceding. Ive always been in the pro-flahaven corner, nothings changed much there, reliable as ever. As for Mulgrew, looks pretty tidy and delivery from dead balls is spot on -although a few in the first half today were a waste. Adds to the height in defence aswell. Francis looks so much more confident and was a class act. Its all very well being able to go forward, but last year he got found out defensively. Again, adds to the height which I feel as a team we lack - this might be why we are so rubbish at defending set plays! Clarke and Barrett. Im still not sure. Today they were superb, they dealt with everything needed of them and done well getting forward. My problem is they are just so alike. At this level, Clarke, Barrett and Francis are more then capable of holding there own, against Championship opposition, I think all may struuggle (again). Just lack that sharpness, just my opinion, don't shoot me down for it!

Midfield. Ive always liked Gower and still do. Although, as we all know his form can be inconsistent, on his day, he is quite easily of Championship level. From what I've seen of Black his just very average. I remember seeing last week that someone noted he does alot of dirty work that gets unnoticed. Granted, but from what ive seen he doesn't do alot else, for someone who is suppose to be playing in a creative position. Weak in the tackle at times aswell. This is an area I feel we need to strengthen. Bailey is absolute class. Tidy on the ball, gets forward and supports well. Has a decent shot on him and can also put in a crunching tackle aswell. His got a good engine, gets up well for headers for a small lad and never seems to lose the ball. This might be saying something but I don't think I've seen a more complete footballer in a blues shirt. Also, something I noticed today, although he has a very aggressive nature when playing, isn't it nice to see a player smile and visibly enjoy themselves whilst on the pitch. An excellent player. McCormack. This might surprise a few but I'm not overly sure of him. He has a great engine and loves a challenge, can support the forwards at times and is generally quite steady. My problem is his anger management. Everytime I see him running over to a challenge I cringed at that thought he was going to clatter his man and get sent off. Although I feel its important to have a 'nutter' in your side, Alan just seems possessed at times and wreckless. His diciplinary record speaks for itself. Whats the point in having a regular first team midfielder who is going to banned for so many games a season? Also a question over his passing aswell. I may seem a bit over critical, I don't think he's that bad a player atall, infact, generally I think he's decent. These are just issues I have wrong with him as a player. The midfield in general looks very tidy and I'd say controlled both games ive seen.

Offensively. Barnard I like. A natural goalscorer although it does seem he scuffs most of his shots? Eitherway, as long as they go in his doing his job correctly. Holds the ball up well for a small guy and works hard. Walker. I know alot of people quite like him. Ive seen some flashes of brilliance from him and also his touch seems awful! Couldve scored today if it were not for this. Also holds the ball up well and works just as hard as Barnard. Slightly worried that Walker and Barnard are both not greatly 'effective' in the air. Although generally I thought we were poor in the first half today, we seemed to be trying to get quite a few high balls in from wide areas and Northamptons defenders were cleaning up everytime. Have to say I think we need someone who can be a bigger threat in the air and by having Robson Kanu and Revell we have the option there. However, Barnard and Walker appear to work well together and both have good footballing brains.

Overall I thought we look pretty good. From my memories of last year, although the level has changed, as a team and individually, I'd say we're stronger. Easy to say when confidence is high right now I know. We have to remember that alot of our Championship side were League 2 players. Some made the grade, but as a team we failed. I think Tilly and Brush have brought in some great players who individually are more natural gifted footballers. Having said that, I havnt seen alot of Revell and nothing of Charlie Mac or Master Harrold - my expectations are rather lower from what ive heard of the later! As for our prospects this year, although ive seen very little football this year, as a team I think we'll blow it in the play-offs. Too many well supported good teams in the play-offs and i reckon we'll bottle it. Our form against the top sides this year has been poor and i don't think we'll be good enough. Personally I also think it will be better for us to consolidate in League 1 for another year, improve the squad which may stand us in good stead for a better shot at the Championship in future years with a new stadium!

Sorry if I bored any of you with such a long message, its been a long time! I hope you don't think ive been over critical, it was purely subjective from what ive seen in my last two matches and read whilst on the otherside of the world! On a personal note, its great being back at the Hall and today enjoyed witnessing the newly formed Blue Voice. Great work from some of you guys who i know from reading the board have put alot of work into.


Junior Blues Coordinator⭐
Dec 27, 2007
A very fair analysis. You may be right about the play offs, hope not, we'll have to wait and see.
Jul 12, 2005
Canvey Island
Well said mate.

You may be right about the play offs, but the joy of them are is that the are a lottery. And it's worth pointing out that people will expect dirty Leeds & Forest to come through as after all they are "big" clubs and have a divine right to play at a higher level. Therefore IMO the so called bigger clubs are likely to "bottle" it due to the level of expectation. Remember Forest losing 5 something at home to Yeovil last season?


Jun 28, 2007
Yoy shoud be counting your blessings that you havent had to watch Mr Harrold. It makes pulling teeth sound rather nice!


This is a modified caption
Mar 26, 2004
just my opinion, don't shoot me down for it!

Sorry if I bored any of you with such a long message, its been a long time!

Whenever I read that infamous SZ caveat, I can't work out if people actually want a response!

Anyway, you're getting one - that post is pretty much in line with my views on the team although having seen Walker in his better games and not so much in his poorer ones, I probably rate him higher. Agreed on the Barnard scuff shots, too. It's almost Goateresque (Goatesque sounded horrible).

I think it's particularly interesting hearing from people who don't watch us so much or haven't seen us in a while because you will often get different perspectives. I had a similar gap in our 05/06 season but back in time for the end of it and seemed to see the game differently to everyone else (although, of course, we all saw the same result and title win!)


Youth Team
Nov 14, 2005
Good review of the game shrimperman....like you I have only been able to get to the Swansea and Northampton games this season and have to say that the balance of the team is good. I thought Nicky Bailey was class yesterday and Mark Gower looked at though he was enjoying himself. My only concern is that until Revell came on we lacked a physically strong forward and I would definitely like to see a bit more of Barnard/Revell together.
What did amaze me yesterday was the size of some of the Northampton players...the guy who had to change his shirt came on with a number 50 on his back...was that his age, waist size or how many pies he had before the match?
Jan 19, 2007
I think credit should be given to Northampton for stopping us play our game. They were committed, direct and well organised and this is exactly the type of team we struggle against. Other than set-pieces, our defence coped pretty well but we just couldn't pass around them in their packed midfield - particularly in the first half.

Bailey and Mulgrew were stand-outs but I'm also encouraged by the progress of Barrett and Clarke as a a centre-back pairing. I admit to questioning the purchase of Barnard initially but every time I see him play he impresses me more and more. He reaches balls he has no right to, is deceptively strong in possession and link-up play and most importantly seems to so often pop up in the right place at the right time to poach goals. There's a confidence throughout the team right now and we need to take it into the play-offs.
Sep 12, 2004
South Woodham Ferrers
A very fair appraisal imo.

Agree with most if, if not all that you raised player wise.

With regards to the play offs, could be more pressure on the bigger sides, than ourselves, especially Calderwood at Forest, so if we do secure the play off spot that is now within touching distance I think that some of the bigger clubs will be just as nervous as facing us, if not a little more so. Especially if we started finishing half the chances we create.


Reg Martin

No Relation
Apr 2, 2007
Shrimperman - your fair, balanced post with it sense of perspective has no place on this board.
Most of us prefer to go in for knee-jerk, every silver-lining has a cloud type stuff.
First team on a good run -so what - did you see the performance in the essex senior cup?
Twelve games unbeaten - pah! - we've got doubts about Tommy Black, James Walker, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all. Tilly has just got lucky again;)
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