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Tough at the top, and tougher at the bottom - 11/11/2002

Tough at the top, and tougher at the bottom
Nolan - you know what you get from him
   Austin Okocha
   Youri Djorkaeff
   Kevin Nolan
   Bruno N Gotty
   Bolton Wanderers
   West Bromwich Albion

Prior to the games with Sunderland, Birmingham, and West Brom, I think most Wanderer’s fans were looking for at least a couple of wins. Personally I was hoping for seven points. The difference between this year and last is that we managed to keep a few clean sheets last term, our goals tally is also down this year and with stats like that – you know you’re in trouble. Big Sam had stated that they were ‘no-loose’ games as opposed to ‘must-win’ games, and to be fair, the Birmingham result was the only match where the team lost – and that from a game where we had our moments! Having said that, it’s three points that the club could do with now. Looking at the fixture list, it’s Leeds away, followed by Chelsea at home and City away. All of these clubs have had a tendency to blow hot and cold, let’s just hope we hit them on the right day!

I’d expected a lot from Ivan Campo, and when he arrived I noticed he was a good organiser - an attribute that would serve the club well. That’s certainly a positive, as is his fighting spirit, but he’s given the ball away far too cheaply in a number of games, and when you play in his position, you simply can’t get away with it. The Sunderland header was a mistake that cost a goal, but it was just one of a number he’s made. Sam’s also given credit to Campo for keeping his discipline during the heated game at West Brom. Well to be honest, he could well have been sent off. After an early booking he seemed to contest a number of decisions and must have walked a tightrope when he berated both referee and linesman. He’s a player who’s class is without question, but silly mistakes and poor discipline don’t do him, or the club, any favours! We’ll see what happens when Gudni Bergsson returns to fitness, but one things for sure, we need to tighten up at the back, and with Bruno N’Gotty’s imminent suspension, it’s not going to be easy.

I’ve also got my concerns about the midfield, in our position we need more than flair, but with both Okocha and Djorkaeff playing together, I think it’s a luxury we just can’t afford. It’s not that either are playing badly, I think the Frenchman is doing very well and Okocha has shown signs of late that he’s the player his reputation points to. I’d be playing Nolan, you know what the lad will give you, and you know he’s also capable of getting on the scoresheet. Yes he’s young, and I know Sam will say he can’t play in every game, but he’s a player we need in the side.

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