Date:Monday August 13 2007
As usual, the return of the beautiful game coincided with a heat wave, and in bright sunshine a good crowd of 8000 stood and observed a perfect minute's silence in honour of one of our most dedicated professionals, David Preece, taken by illness so young at 44, and for the Town's policeman, Police Constable Jon Henry, taken in the line of his duty at the even younger age of 36. I'm sure we all offer our deepest sympathy to the families of both men; we will remember them both for their dedication to their professions and for their very different roles in the lives of the people of Luton.
Despite threats of boycotts and decisions not to renew season tickets, there was a buzz in the atmosphere at Kenilworth Road; dare I say an optimism? As Dad's Army took to the pitch discarding their zimmer frames and their mobility scooters in the dressing room, they looked very fit and there was some surprise when the teams were announced that Paul Furlong started ahead of Parkin and Talbot, a pairing that had never been utilised as a starting partnership in any of the pre-season matches.
Of course, we were unaware of any behind the scenes reasons for the decision, and Kevin Blackwell gave his reasons after the match. He wanted to give Sam Parkin an easier start to the season to help build his confidence in the ankle which caused his absence for most of last season. He also explained the absence of Kevin Foley as being due to the fact that a bid has been made for the player and it 'would not have been fair to risk him' if Blackwell intends to accept the offer. My belief is that the offer is over the odds for a player who was in and out of form and fitness last season, and Blackwell fully intends to accept the offer, and didn't want to give young Foley the opportunity of having a 'mare and blowing the deal, but then I have become very cynical over the last few years when it comes to the club's controllers.
I don't intend to repeat The New Ricky Hill's excellent match report, but will offer my observations on the new team and their overall performance.
I have said many times that football fans are very fickle and that Luton fans are more fickle than most. While other teams in the relegation dogfight last term were grinding out the odd points in an effort to survive, Luton, depleted by some outrageously foolish sales, were rolling over, and the very young team we were left with did not have the experience to survive. Fans cried out that we needed about 6 new players, but did not believe that the new Chairman would stump up for that to happen.
Kevin Blackwell not only cleared out some dead wood, but brought in players regularly throughout the summer, adding experience and proven skill to the side, but each time he did, there were more criticisms of who the players previously played for, the age of the players, the positions of the players and so on. He brought in 9 players and still the fans are bitching!
However, the players the manager has brought in appear to be very astute signings for this division, and while they may not all cut it in the Championship next season, were we to be promoted, they will all do a job this season, and many of them are only on 1 season contracts.
I too am disappointed that Leon Barnett was sold without a replacement coming in, but had the manager picked up any old centre back to make the numbers up, I am sure he would have been vilified for that too.
He has stated that he is aware that we need at least one centre back and a goalkeeper, and I will be very surprised if the issue is not dealt with by the next league match.
Goalkeeper: Dean Brill has not improved as much as I would have hoped since he was vying with Rob Beckwith for the jersey, in the Youth team. However, last season his confidence was shot by some appalling defensive cock ups in front of him. Perhaps a few victories and (again dare I say it?)a few clean sheets might see him develop into a good keeper. Meanwhile, age and injury have caught up with Marlon Beresford, and the decision to place him on the transfer list is, sadly the correct one, and a new keeper is required in the squad. David Lucas has been rumoured as a target in this area but I'd like to see someone on loan from a Premiership team. Stuart Taylor, at Villa, looked very good against Liverpool, and, as third choice, was playing only because Carson was not allowed to play against Liverpool and Sorensen was injured, and he, or someone like him, could benefit from a run in our side.
Defence: Richard Jackson looks like the first specialist right back we have had for a few years, with previous incumbents being wing backs with midfield aspirations!The lad can tackle and distributes the ball well and will be a better player in the position than Foley.
Coyne and Perry look a decent enough partnership in the centre, although back up is non existent once either gets injured or suspended.
On the left Goodall looks as though he can play left wing back or left midfield and can also play left full back. He tackles more strongly than any of our existing players in that role, apart from Sol of course, but sadly Sol wants to leave and has been injured in the pre-season anyway.
Midfield: We have a veritable plethora of midfielders and they are going to have to deliver if those currently in the shirts are to keep them. No problem there then? Competition for places is what we all shout for. Currie looks a class act and Dave Edwards looks like another Carlos in the making. Don Hutchison still has some skill and used in a substitute role will be a valuable squad member. Spring looks to have a new lease of life and will be awesome in this division and Robinson will have some strength around him to allow him to be a playmaker. Bell was a good player in the CCC and should stand out a mile in League 1.
Richard Langley could be missing all season but we will still have Emanuel, Brkovic, Morgan, O'Leary and Keith Keane as back up. Many teams in this division would kill for some of those players in their starting eleven.
Strikers: After finishing with no fire power at all last year we now have an armoury! A fit Sam Parkin alongside Paul Peschisolido would appear to be the strongest partnership, with Talbot, McVeigh and Furlong on the bench, (not necessarily all of them, although McVeigh can play midfield). With Pesch showing that he is fit and running around like a youngster for an hour before tiring yesterday, he will have a great impact on this league. That still leaves Calvin Andrew in reserve who again could flourish in this league.
Altogether a good balanced squad once the central defender and keeper are added.
None of the Dad's Army players looked out of their depth or unfit, or particularly off the pace yesterday, so I have to say after 1 match it's Boo Boys 0, Blackwell 1!
However, it is only the first match and there were definite problems in wavelength. The players will take a few competitve matches to get used to each other and gel into a unit. We must be patient, but one game one win is a great start, and if they can keep winning while they get to know each other, it could be a successful season.
As far as the Chairman is concerned, he hasn't said much, but even though most of the signings are free transfers, the wage bill will be high for the division so a good proportion of the alleged 'missing money' will be required to keep all the players paid.
I still don't know what Mr Pinkney will be like long term, and we will have to wait and see if he cuts it, but until he proves otherwise we need to back off and give him a chance.
Yesterday's performance was promising without ever being spectacular, and at times was nervy as a decent Hartlepool side asked some stern questions of them. A year ago we would have capitulated and lost or drawn the game. We won it, and the manner in which they protected the lead was pretty solid until the penalty kick award, and after weathering the storm early on due to some players in defence not covering each other,they became more solid as the game wore on until I believed that Hartlepool would never have scored from open play. A team with a little more about them up front might have put the game beyond us by half time but Luton will have benefitted from the pressure and the fact that they withstood it and my enthusiasm for the game has returned and I am looking forward to Swindon with some optimism.
So, let us get behind the team and support that part of the club which plays for us, even if we have our concerns about the board, whoever the players are and whoever they used to play for.
Date:Monday August 13 2007
Hatters Sign Duo (Tuesday May 21 2013)
Hatters Sign Tigers Striker (Sunday May 19 2013)
Luton to Entertain Aston Villa (Friday May 17 2013)
Tyler`s Staying (Friday May 17 2013)
I Wish It Was Us! (Wednesday May 15 2013)
Favourites (Again)! (Monday May 13 2013)
Keeper Ranks Bolstered (Monday May 13 2013)
Nielson Finds New Club (Monday May 13 2013)
Welcome to the Mad World! (Monday May 13 2013)
I Felt Physically Sick! (Monday May 13 2013)
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