Crewe Alexandra - So we're average then?
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So we're average then?

I sense a season largely of mid-table obscurity. Don't ask why, it is probably my superior reading of this glorious game. Or is it that we're 11th and looking distinctly average all round?

Saturday offered up the third of the four opposition from the top seven that we'll have faced in just over a month; once we have hosted Wycombe in 11 days time that is. Following defeats to Shrewsbury and Port Vale, Rotherham have added to a month from hell. I defy anyone to find another team who've had a tougher month in the league over the last few weeks.

Like Vale and Shrewsbury, the Millers were clearly worthy of their plac in a top 6 that is increasingly pulling away from not only us but the other 17 clubs in the division. They were good on the ball, they were quick, they moved well, they were strong and they were determined when they weren't in possession.

A lot of the time it's easy to come on and pick apart our own performance or the referee. Sometimes it's justified, as at Tamworth where the team embarrassed themselves, whilst other times we're clutching at straws. Here, I have to give it to Rotherham. They were better than us. Simple as that.

It was not too different to our other recent league games. We failed to turn up for 15 minutes, we gifted them a goal in the shape of a Adam Dugdale own goal from a poorly defender corner and then, on the stroke of 3:15pm, we started to climb the hill. When you're facing the cream of the crop in League Two though you can't give them a 15 minute and 1 goal head start.

And I've just realised I am now picking apart our performance....

But it was from there on in that we had two real chances and we missed them. Rotherham on the other hand denied us a sight on goal in the second half and could have added at least three to their tally, most notably when free scoring Adam le Fondre was denied from the penalty spot by a fantastic Rhys Taylor save.

The defeat knocked us back down to 11th, where we were before the solid win at Gillingham, but a win on Saturday against struggling Morecambe could lift us back to 8th or 9th... where we were before the defeat on Saturday.

It is going to be that monotonous this season because we are either on the brink of being very good or very bad. The last few weeks have proven we are incapable of matching the best sides in this division, however narrow the defeats were, whilst we regularly pick up a point or three against lower opposition.

To add a few facts to the equation, the opening day defeat at home to Hereford is the only time we've lost to a side in the bottom half of the division this season, that's out of seven games. Compare that with our form against the top half and having faced 10 top half opponents we've beaten, well, one. Bury. Staggering.

It hurts a bit to learn that we aren't going to be mixing it with the leading pack this season, prior to Vale I had my hopes up but have been duly disappointed although not shocked. There's still improvement in us however and we are far from the point of pushing the big red panic button. Keeping an eye of the last two play-off spots would not be a silly thing to do though I am wondering if, having seen the majority of the teams in this division now, that may still be a leap too far.

Perhaps, though, it is all part of our road to recovery. Six years of decline doesn't stop in an instant. We are no longer that Championship club and a promotion push was never really a realistic expectation this season. Maybe in the eyes of supporters who are clinging on to the 1997-2006 years as if it's a matter of flicking a switch to return to the good old days but everyone else, including opposition fans? We finished 18th with no significant investment into the team in the summer. Where's that promotion push going to come from again?

I'm still content. I'm over the big rush to get back to the glory days, it ain't happening as we've fallen too far too quickly. Time to take our time and rebuild. That's not to say a poor showing will be accepted this season or next but progress bit by bit will do fine. Promotion can wait another 12 months can't it?

What I'm trying to say is, let's just see where the players take us!

And sack 'em if it's lower than 12th.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Dink Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday November 23 2010

Time: 2:28AM


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