So Jos Luhukay has been in the job a couple of weeks now, he has brought in his own right hand man and the club have signed what seems to be a strong physical midfielder in Joey Pelupessy.
All positives for me and with the recent results and clean sheets it is definitely something to build on moving forward.
The piece(s) of news that I am most delighted with over the past two weeks is the inclusion and debuts of some of the younger players from the under 23’s squad. Full first team debuts for Sean Clare, Frederik Nielsen and Jordan Thorniley – and a first Hillsborough appearance for Connor O’Grady.
Speaking from my own experience these debuts will be something that each and every player will remember and cherish for the rest of their days. No matter how successful they become, to whichever heights or lows their careers will take them, no one can ever take that day away from them, and it's not only the individual players that will feel this enormous sense of pride. Their parents, siblings, each and every coach that has worked with them through the years will feel it too. These guys will have been working towards this from such a young age and to finally realise that dream is fantastic.
Hopefully this will have a positive knock-on effect within the under 23 squad where it gives hope to the ones that haven’t quite got there yet. I am sure that the four players mentioned above will have gone back into training with a renewed vigour and determination that once they have tasted it, they want more, and the only way of achieving this is through more hard work.
I also think there has to be a note of congratulations to the academy coaching staff who have worked with these players over the years, nurturing their talents and instilling in them the belief that they are good enough and when that chance presents itself they are ready to grasp it with both hands.
Again, speaking from personal experience, when I was playing and a young lad was given his debut I was always delighted for them. I liked to get to know every player in the club, no matter how old or young and to see one of them break through into the first team reminded me of my own experience and the help given to me by the then experienced pros. You take on this role, a bit like an older brother, making sure they get through the game ok, keeping an eye out for them and talking and encouraging them throughout the game.
You could see the delight that a couple of the coaches showed after the games, immediately congratulating them. It’s a big thing, a massive thing really and they will have gone home and relived every second, probably doubting themselves a little. Did I do that right? Could I have done this better? It’s a constant learning experience for them but overall I thought each and every one of them should be immensely proud of their achievements.
One more positive is the recent displays and form of our young goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith. He has really stepped up to the plate over recent weeks and shown the kind of form that is not often seen in a goalkeeper so young. Anyone will tell you that goalkeepers are a breed of their own, and the job dictates that they have to be in my opinion. There is absolutely no room for error and therefore it carries with it a lot of pressure and responsibility that a sometimes weighs heavy on young shoulders. I think he’s done great so far and yet again is testament to the academy and the coaching staff.
I don’t feel like there have been a hell of a lot of positives to write about this season if I am honest. It has been a bit if a struggle from the very first match at Preston and the club is now very much in a transitional period in my opinion. The new manager has come in with obviously very different ideas than the previous one and it will take a number of weeks for him to implement this.
Added to this the incredible number of injuries that we have sustained and with so many players missing you can only hope that as time goes by we will hopefully start to get some of these players returning and Jos Luhukay can impress his wishes on them even more. I believe that he has done the right thing in trying to make us more difficult to beat. His options when he came in were extremely limited and under the circumstances I think he has done a very good job.
We look more solid, more difficult to get through and behind and yet have still created some decent scoring opportunities. I am sure there will be more emphasis on the creative side of the game as weeks go by but I am a firm believer in building a solid foundation at the back first. This was shown again at the weekend against high-flying Cardiff and I felt that although we didn’t start too well we came into the game towards the end of the first half and were the better team in the second period. I keep saying it but goals change games and if we had managed to stick one of our chances away on the night I feel we would have taken the three points.
A couple of big matches coming up with Reading in the FA Cup and then a trip up to Middlesborough. It would be great to have a decent cup run this year, something for everyone to get excited about but you can’t take your eye off the ball with three vital points on offer up at the Riverside Stadium the following Tuesday.