by Steve Hoad
And so the long awaited day is virtually upon us. What will I be looking for?
Probably my Oyster card initially! Where the ?.? Panic, turmoil. Phew, found it. But as I ease myself back into London Underground`s finest, what will I then be looking for on Saturday?
The first thing will be the starting line up – who will be chosen, who will be on the bench, and who left out? Will Balanta be judged to be sufficiently oven ready to warrant a place in the starting eleven?
I will be looking at the new signings, insofar as they have not been crocked on the training ground. What are their skills, do they have the commitment, can they take us further? Is Pellicori that elusive 20 a season striker, or more like a 40 a day man? How well will he settle to the Championship game?
Will Faurlin fall in, or fall out? Will he also make the grade in the Championship? Is he a playmaker? Can you have more than one playmaker in a team? Does his vision and play style compliment or clash with that of Buzz? Will two conductors orchestrate a symphony, or deliver a cacophony? And indeed, how sharp is Buzz on his return to competitive matches? For that matter, how sharp, fit and committed are Martin, Rowan, and Pat, on their return, if they are called upon to play in anger?
Will HH still become tangled with the other side`s defence, tying himself in knots, and getting lost in the process, or can he break the bonds?
Might Routledge toil less but achieve more through being more effective in what he does, not taking on that little bit too much extra, and so not quite delivering? Similarly, will Adel yield to less of an individual role and become more team focussed, as well as developing the maturity to better showcase his skills (that`s football, not drama skills)?
Gavin Mahon – saint or sinner? It`s time for a critical, but impartial study. Perhaps it is that he is just too readily recognisable, he is a distinctive figure on the pitch and that inevitably puts him under the microscope of the, shall we say, less discerning, but easily led (booing) minority, who readily recognise faults, but give little credit for positives?
Clearly, I can`t find an answer to all those 11 questions on day one! Not all can play, but it will be a start and there will be some pointers. And there`s still Hogan, Legs and Alberti before any thought of the defence, and that`s without Cook.
So, in defence, will Gorkss continue to grow in stature and stand out amongst the back four? Do we get a chance to assess the mysterious Borrowdale? Who else might line up, Connolly, Hall, Ramage, or Stewart? Will they be as solid as last year, or even better having gained a greater understanding, anticipation, empathy and instinct for each other and their actions, a fully cohesive unit, or still work in progress?
It`s lucky that Cerny is a certainty, oh, unless we`ve signed Marshall! (Which with Cerny displaying flu symptoms, may, by the time you come to read this, have already come to pass).
And that still leaves Ainsworth, and the promising youngsters, so I`m starting to come to the conclusion even before we begin that this is a squad to be reckoned with.
But back to 8th, overall, do the team gel? What`s the football like? Have we moved away from that infuriating headball of last season? Does the ball now stay on the deck, with thoughtful passing, ball control and movement off the ball, vision, and finding space? In short, the flowing, entertaining football that had been a hallmark of Loftus Road.
Anything else I`m looking for? Oh yes, a comfortable 2-0 win displaying exciting skills and oozing latent menace and potential, although, I could be persuaded to accept a more empathic score line.
But what will you be looking for?
All in all, I reckon it`s gonna be quite a day.
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