Youngsters helped to lift gloom at City

The Man In The Stands TO say we are desperate for a little ray of sunshine at the moment would be something of an understatement. Ahead of today's game at the City Ground most fans with whom The Man is acquainted - although I appreciate I move in rather negative circles - were heralding survival as a significant achievement for this season.

The Man In The Stands

TO say we are desperate for a little ray of sunshine at the moment would be something of an understatement.

Ahead of today's game at the City Ground most fans with whom The Man is acquainted - although I appreciate I move in rather negative circles - were heralding survival as a significant achievement for this season.

When a team like Swansea can come out and blitz you at the start of the second half you know something has to be rotten in the state of Denmark. The Man had barely finished licking the fermented residue from his plastic pint glass before the Swans had sown the game up in three early second-half minutes.


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Against such a dispiriting backdrop it was a refreshing surprise to see our youngsters (aided by a few senior pros) beat Arsenal 4-2 this week. The last time I got so excited about us beating Arsenal 4-2 was at Highbury when we smashed their first XI on the opening (and inaugural) day of the Premier League.

But football's moved on folks, and now we are left to take refuge in the fact our reserves have got a result against Arsenal's much-vaunted stiffs in a friendly game.

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Except it wasn't really their stiffs; it was their stiffs' stiffs if you will.

Only three of the Arsenal team that thrashed Wigan in the Carling Cup made the starting XI at the Carra. Most of their real reserve side was away on international duty…as I said, football has changed. Anyway, despite my cynicism, The Man was genuinely excited to see that we have seemingly got a youngster up front with a bit of pace, who it seems may occasionally be able to bit a barn door with a banjo.

I am not sure if he is good enough (or strong enough) for the Championship yet, but it wouldn't half give the crowd a lift if we could see a home-grown youngster coming through soon.

It is not ideal to throw a young lad into a struggling and under pressure side; but given that situation isn't going to change any time soon we might not have any choice, especially when January comes.

The great thing about youngsters is that, for the first few games at least, they play without any fear. And sadly, that is not something that can be said about a lot of the senior players at the moment.

As a footnote, it was nice to see Norwich fan Matthew Upson get his first England goal this week and put in a decent performance. There was an Ipswich boy up front of course, but we can overlook that.

Who said you can't find good young footballers in East Anglia?

t LEAVE WYNN JONES TO ENJOY A PUFF IN PEACE

AN UNSAVOURY little skirmish took place outside the City Stand last week as a small group of supporters descended on Michael (please God let us) Wynn Jones.

The old chap was having his regular post match puff when he was confronted by frustrated supporters.

As The Man ear-wigged in the conversation was tense but not too confrontational, until one chancer turned up and accused the board of taking money OUT of the club. Dear oh dear.

You can accuse Michael and Delia of many things, but taking money out? That is a bit much…

The red mist descended. Wynn-Jones started shouting: “Who said that? Who said that?” He was raging.

By this time the culprit had scuttled off into the night, and Neil Doncaster soon emerged - as if by magic - to escort Wynny away.

The Man has been critical of Michael and Delia. It is just my opinion, from what I know, but I believe they've made a mistake with Cullum. I may be proved to be wrong, but there you go.

However, it will be a truly sad day if MWJ still can't enjoy a quick ciggy outside the game after each match.

t NO WAY WE OUGHT TO LET CURETON GO TO ROVERS

OUR relegation rivals Doncaster Rovers this week admitted an interest in signing Jamie Cureton on loan.

The Man would imagine the last thing we would want to do is help out a team that's scrapping it out with us at the bottom of the table. Unless, of course, we can guarantee that Jamie won't score any goals.

And that's the problem - you wouldn't bet against Curo going there and banging in a few goals, especially if he's got a decent target man to work off.

When his head is right, and people believe in him, he will score goals.

It's been tragic watching Curo's confidence slowly wither and die in the past few months. Suddenly chances he would not have thought twice about slotting away for Colchester have become tortuously difficult.

Of course, he was obviously playing in a better side when he became the Capocanonieri a couple of years ago. But it's obvious he has also struggled under the pressure of playing for his former club again, particularly under the critical glare of Glenn Roeder.

The Man does not necessarily blame Roeder for his management of Curo; but there are some players that react well to criticism, and there are some that just need an arm around the shoulder.Cureton clearly falls into the latter category. You just wonder whether dear old Glenn has got that sort of approach in his locker…anyone who was at the AGM would suggest perhaps not!

It's difficult to see a happy ending on this one - but let's hope Curo gets on and sticks another one past the **** next month. That would do him, and us, the power of good.

t STRANGE ONE

THE Man was intrigued to see the reaction Maradona was afforded in Scotland this week.

Such was the melee that greeted his arrival in Glasgow you'd be forgiven for thinking the pint-sized cheat was handing out free booze vouchers.

Don't get me wrong, I think Maradona was a wonderful footballer. He not only had spectacular ability, but also the same win-or-bust attitude that I like to see in my own team. However, the fact that Scotland went potty over a bloke just because he scored a dubious goal against England 22 years ago was pathetic. Totally pathetic.

Sadly, England fans can't return the favour - because Scotland have never got to the knock out stages of a World Cup and they never will. They are always home before the postcards. The fact that Scotland are managed by George Burley and Terry Butcher is of course another more parochial reason to take delight in their failings. I even know one Tartan Canary who has rightly denounced his native team because of the tarnished background of the appointments.

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