SAFCBlog Sunday Afternoon Think Tank Club

Football is a results business. The draw on day 1 vs Rovers was a disappointing result, but back to back wins vs 2 of the fancied teams is hugely positive. League tables are irrelevant after 3 games, but 7 points from 9 is a decent start.

A Sunday after a win is a thing of beauty, not going to games is shite and unfair – but we are living in strange times and there’s no sign of them getting any less strange?

Much as the Government have faced criticism for the ’10pm cut off rule’. The initiative of Drink Earlier, Drink Faster, is something that SAFCBlog has been pioneering for years.

Take Responsibility- Drink Early + Drink Fast

Playing behind closed doors….

Does it make any difference? It shouldn’t, I’ve long since argued that teams home vs away record is hugely a mental thing and how they approach games. Should professional footballers, playing on perfect, consistent surfaces, with home comforts even away from home really have a situation where they for example, don’t lose at home all season, and don’t win away all season?  So it shouldn’t make any difference but does it? From what I’ve seen of L1 thus far, no fans doesn’t seem to be affecting games, I’d even say that the refereeing seems better. Maybe it’s easier without a crowd to influence them and the fact they are not perceiving themselves to be the main attraction. In all of our games so far, the ref has given less niggly fouls than we’re used to seeing at this level. Up in the faraway land of the Premiership, there’s been 25 games played and not a single goalless draw – not sure what this indicates but it’s interesting,(ish).

How are we looking?

Taking yesterday’s team as a starting point….

Burge….. clean sheet and some good saves yesterday will have given him confidence. Even with the very best of keepers, confidence, (or loss of), is huge. Although the penalty award was his fault, he’s yet to concede from open play this season

Flanagan…… perfectly competent at this level, I wish he’d get a haircut

Wright….. as good a defender as there is in the league. At this level, his game is flawless 

Willis….. very good last season, the same this season. His link up play with O’Nien is constantly improving

Hume….. undoubtedly the one player we have that will play at a higher level. Delivery still inconsistent, but it is getting better. He’s even using his right foot occasionally. He excites me more than anyone else in our squad


Over the last few years, I’ve generally alluded to, ‘if Gooch plays well, we play well’…. at the moment he’s not playing well. He’s out of form, it happens. His goal last week reflects that he’s got the skills to be one of our key men this season’

McGuire……not played well yet this season, but….. would you have wanted the ball to fall to anyone else vs Bristol Rovers. He’ll know he’s not really on form, but he, (and we), also know that if we get a freekick 25 yards out, he’s the man to top bin it⚽️

O’Nien…… can’t imagine there’s any kids reading, but if there is….. Luke is absolutely everything a professional footballer should be

Leadbitter…. our best player in both home games so far this season…..I will cover later in this article

Scowen…… it’s a big season for everyone, I’d go so far as to say it’s a big 6-8 weeks for him? He’s clearly got what it takes, whether he steps up to the plate will be an interesting one. At the the start of last season, I had hopes that Dylan McGeouch would be the best midfielder in our team and do wonderful things for us….. he wasn’t and he didn’t. Hope Josh has more success.

Wyke/ Grigg / Graham…..none of them look like being prolific? Akin to keepers, confidence is everything for strikers….. I don’t know who it’ll be, but there’s enough between the 3 of them for one of them to emerge as the main man.

In terms of performance, we are doing OK. We lack pace, any threat seems to come from wide areas and we rarely look like carving teams apart through the middle, ie with through balls. Whilst Gary Bennett is a SAFC Legend, his negativity towards our performances is a tough listen. I’ve never, (as yet), been a matchday commentator on BBC Radio, but if I was…. rather than bemoan our faults, (Phil will know we lack pace), look at the positives. The main positive I see is our fitness and intensity, the 1st 15 minutes of the 2nd half yesterday were really good – that’s how we will win games. In Jan and Feb we won games with a 20 minute blast of high tempo play, that’s the key for me? 

It’s no secret that I’m firmly behind our manager, I was pleased with his appointment and let’s not forget what a shitstorm we’ve been as a club for a long time now. I’d guess you’d have to be pretty thick skinned as a football manager, when we lose a game, (which we will), let’s just keep a cool head. Game of opinions, but Phil we get us promoted this season, 100%. If he doesn’t, well he’ll probably have to move on, but after 3 games of 46, I’d say we are in a decent place? I’d rather he didn’t dress like a geography teacher, but it’s not a dealbreaker.

Grant Leadbitter……

I’m missing being in the SOL, I’d have loved to have been there yesterday when Grant smashes home the winner……


As I say, I’d have loved to have been there to see this winner yesterday? Although it’s just a game?? …..Grant is a huge Sunderland fan, his dads ashes are sprinkled on the pitch, he wants to play for us, he took a pay cut to play for us, he played in a semi final 24 hours after losing his mum, he took time away from the game last season to battle mental health issues……I’d imagine everyone reading this can relate to some of that? Just a game? Is it bollocks, it’s real life. Grant, well done pal, you should be so proud of yourself.

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