So the new Championship season has begun and although we didn’t come away from Loftus Road with a positive result that didn’t mean we didn’t come away without some positives. In fact after coming up against most bookies’ favourite to win the league I feel we can feel confident about the matches to come this season. QPR came down from the Premiership after splashing out over £36 million last season and having the kind of wage bill that makes our squad seem like we should be competing in completely different leagues so having competing and matching them for much of the match I feel we can take pride in our performance. Some of the positives I took from our game against QPR were: Nuhiu’s debut and THAT strike, Maghoma looking like the step up to the Championship should be no problem, Palmer getting 90 minutes under his belt (bear in mind he’s playing out of position) and of course another fantastic performance from Kirkland.
Enough talk about the opening day and let’s focus on something I believe is vital to having a successful campaign and that is turning Hillsborough into a fortress. Last season our away record was better than our home record and we seemed to struggle playing in front of our own fans, which is strange because in our promotion campaign we only lost two league games at home. This season we must aim to repeat the kind of form we saw at Hillsborough during our last season in League One. We didn’t always play exceptional football (at times far from it under Megson) but we made winning and grinding our results a habit at home and we must try to repeat that this season. Dave Jones has already spoken about the importance of improving our home form this season.
So how do we do it?
Well when you look at our first five home league games it could be seen as a relatively easy start compared to the teams we could have come up against, our first five home matches being:
Now I know there are no easy games in the Championship but bearing in mind two of these teams have just come up from League One and Millwall and Ipswich flirted with the bottom of the table for much of the season then I feel we can count ourselves relatively fortunate with our start. Bear in mind we could have come up against the likes of Wigan, Reading, Bolton, Leicester or Watford to name just a few of the teams that are the favourites to be competing at the top end of the division.
Our first home match against Burnley has just been made slightly easier in my opinion with Charlie Austin joining QPR and this time we were fortunate in that he didn’t score against us, we saw last season how lethal he can be in front of goal when he gave our defence a nightmare evening at Turf Moor and scored a hat trick.
Burnley managed to finish last season in 11th place in the Championship but they only finish with 3 points more than 19th placed Huddersfield with 58 points (the same total as ourselves in 18th place) so that shows just how tight the league was last season. From what I saw of Burnley last season and having watched their opening match against Bolton I believe we have enough to beat them, especially if we perform as well as we did against QPR but can just have more strength at the back. What will be an important factor in how we fare at home this season is the crowd. The crowd at Hillsborough can be fantastic, we’ve seen this recently on the last day of the previous two seasons against Wycombe and Middlesbrough with a party like atmosphere created. However sometimes our fans can be quick to jump on the players’ backs as they’re so keen and eager to see the team do well. IF we were to go a goal down in our first match against Burnley then the fans need to be patient and help support the team, the fans can play a big part in helping the team to turn the match around. That said I believe we can get a victory against Burnley and kick-start our league campaign and begin turning Hillsborough into a fortress again, a place where teams fear coming to and know they’re going to have to perform to their absolute best to stand a chance of leaving with any points.
We’re All Wednesday Aren’t We?!