Shadowplay


It seems that our record after ten games (five wins, four draws and one defeat) is identical to this stage last season. However, the aim is to end the season differently! “We saw in this league last year, that the teams that got off to a flier and a really quick start weren’t necessarily the teams that were up there at the end of the season because sustaining it in this division is difficult,” said Ross. “Likewise, there were teams that got off to a slower start and then put together a really strong run. I think we’re in a very similar position to where we were at this stage of last season. Last season, we stayed there or thereabouts until that very last part of the season, so the challenge is for us to improve upon that. The fact we’ve not dropped away from where we were at the same stage of last season is a positive. Last season, for lots of different reasons, people were saying that we’d had a good start. I think we’re in an identical position now in terms of points, so like it did last year, it gives us a platform to go on and be successful. We’ve just got to make sure that, as the season unfolds, we take that and we don’t fall short.”

The gaffer believes that using Luke O’Nien as an attacking midfielder and Max Power’s recent form and goals can be the difference. “We’ve been looking for the right balance in forward areas that brings the best out of our attacking players,” said Ross. “Luke playing higher up recently has probably given us that wee bit of a different dynamic in the forward areas. With Max, I said after the goal at Bramall Lane that he works on his finishing a lot, but we just felt maybe he wasn’t in the right areas of the pitch to have the opportunity to do that regularly. We spoke to him and encouraged him to do that, and I think in these recent games he’s been higher up the pitch when we’ve been in the final third. That is a bonus to us because that’s what the attraction of bringing him here in the first place was. He had a stop-start season last year because of the suspensions, and that maybe impacted upon him a little bit, but hopefully that is him getting back to his best. He’s not been poor, but having him high up the park to contribute with goals is something we’ll need throughout the course of the season. We’ll need midfielders to get eight to ten goals.”

The gaffer also reckons that the experience of Joel Lynch will calm the backline, “I think Joel brings a calmness,” said Ross. “Aiden (McGeady) and Grant (Leadbitter) are the only ones that have really played at the highest level. They’ve not only experienced the number of games, but they’ve played at a higher level than this as well and we don’t have a huge number of others in the squad that have. There is a unique expectation and pressure playing here and a demand on you so you’ve got to be able to adapt to that. It needs those that have had that experience, but also those that can be reassuring to others during those times. Joel’s taken his time to settle and find his feet, but he’s starting to have an influence around other players and that’s what you want. Jordan’s definitely got leadership qualities, and he’s shown he can handle responsibility as a young man. It’s probably a very daft thing, but when he was signing at the training ground, he had breakfast with the staff in the morning and when he went off to his medical, he pushed his chair in. For me, that’s a little thing that says a lot about people. That’s the type of person he is. He’s polite, courteous and respectful, and he’s got leadership qualities because of that. He’ll grow into that more and more. I can see he’s becoming more comfortable in the environment, more and more vocal. I wasn’t putting any pressure on him to be like that from the beginning coming in at 24 years of age, but he’s a really good type as well.”


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A Love Supreme

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