Yes I do realise that the Barcelona game was a week ago, but I have been distracted by the fantastic Olympic Games that our country has managed to put on and now the inevitable post-Olympics depression, which is more a look back at my life going where has time gone?
Instead of doing a match report I decided I would focus on our new signings since I’ve seen literally nothing of them so far. Pre-season games haven’t appealed to me the past few years and this was in fact my first in three years since a rainy night at Emley where Phil Jevons played his last ever game.
I must admit I missed the first five minutes as I was too busy enjoying the pre-match drinks in Town and it was no surprise to turn up with Barcelona playing keep ball. However, I though we played well during the first half and the 4-3-3 formation that Simon Grayson has persisted with during pre-season seemed to be countering whatever the young Barca side threw at us.
The second half was a slightly disappointing affair as we switched off for both of their goals, the penalty was soft and should have really been a free-kick but when we went 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 we just couldn’t cope with their skill. However, we should have at least bagged one when James Spencer missed an easy chance unmarked from 6 yards, but his glancing header was to be quite honest far too glancing.
So to the new signings and two in particular really impressed me, the two being Oliver Norwood and Sean Scannell. Norwood is a signing that didn’t particularly have that wow factor when he came, but there is a reason that Manchester United wanted to keep the midfielder and from the brief amount of time I’ve seen him, he looks class. Norwood’s first touch is fantastic and his vision is terrific and I fully believe he is already the key to how we do this season.
Scannell also impressed with his direct running, pace, strength and skill and was a terrific outlet on the night and was unlucky not to score. Scannell also provides Town with versatility as he can play in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 whilst also playing up top, something perhaps that we have been lacking.
Paul Dixon also did quite well and looks to have a tremendous cross on him. Many Town fans knew that from the youtube video of him but I do fear he could be a liability if he bombs forward but then that is up to someone to cover him. Again it’s hard to form an opinion in 90 minutes in a friendly, but I like the look of him. When was the last time we had a quality left-back?
Joel Lynch also had a solid game and is a ball playing centre-back we have lacked for a long time, but I suppose they are hard to come by in League One. He also has a bit of pace and acceleration which will be more than useful, although I do not think Peter Clarke is the right man to play alongside him, but my views on Clarke need to be reserved until he has had a fair crack at the Championship.
Adam Clayton has been talked about as a possible signing months before he came. On first viewing he was quiet compared to the impressive Norwood in the centre of the park. However, he has an eye for goal and if he can striker the right balance alongside Norwood and Keith Southern then we could see a bagful of goals from him, something we have lacked since Michael Collins left.
Last of all Keith Southern, possibly a like for like replacement for Damien Johnson. Southern was another to have a quiet game and was lucky to be on the pitch after going through one of the Barca youngsters. (even though he won the ball) Southern was the signing that impressed me the most on paper but I do fear he is a red card waiting to happen, mind you I said that when Damien Johnson first arrived and he was class!
So there are my views of our signings so far. I firmly believe we need a few more if we are to compete in the Championship and the signings also have to suit Grayson’s favoured 4-3-3. Also we need strength in depth, something which showed in Monday nights defeat to Preston. Roll on Friday.