Down and out?
So what went wrong during the season. I believe that the season went wrong right from the start, and can be encapsulated below:
1. Too many injuries - you simply cannot get through a season with key partnerships missing throughout the side.
Big Steve Fletcher was missed enormously; Defoe made a huge difference the year before and help to rescue the previous season.
Carl Fletcher and Richard Hughes made a huge impact in our play-off near miss, this injuries and suspensions have meant that neither have played together regularly.
Eddie Howe was not the Eddie Howe we all know and love. Whether the pre-season transfer speculation upset his game or not will never be known, but too many mistakes were made throughout the back three/four.
The youngsters have done well when thrown in to the deep end, most notably Brian Stock. His opening goal back in Bournemouth was superb.
Sean and Peter proved themselves superbly during 2000/01 with the run in towards the play-offs, but the season just finished has left a question mark in the minds of many supporters. Ineffective loan signings and substitutions that have been difficult to understand have left many scratching their heads - all factors that have not helped.
The Board may have given them the assurance that their jobs are safe in to next season, but unless the start to the new campaign is positive, then the pressure from the fans may be too much.
With the 2001/02 season consigned to the history books, what of the 2002/03 season? Sitting here just a few days after the drop was confirmed, it is hard to see anything other than a tough season ahead.
I'd like to think that we could bounce back just have Luton have done this year, but given the finances at Dean Court, compounded by the relegation, demise of ITV Digital I can see another frustrating season ahead.
Hopefully we can avoid the slump suffered by Bristol Rovers, but I am fearful that we'll be fighting against relegation to the Conference in 12 months time. If you look at successful squads over the years, all have included a striker who can wade in with 20-30 goals, and a midfield that, between them, can notch up another 20-30 goals, and are of height and stature. If you then put these raw bench marks against the current squad, do you believe we are destined to bounce back at the first attempt? I'll leave you to make your own minds up on that one.
I do hope we can make at least the play-offs so that the finances are kept ticking over, but anything less could prove to be a disaster, and make the financial situation at Dean Court much worse.
Remember, it could always be worse - we could be supporters of Pooroldpompey!!
UP THE CHERRIES!! :-)