Writer: J P Fear
Date:Monday April 23 2007
The difference between the performances this season and the past two is infinite. There is now a team spirit, we are hard to beat and O'Neill is strengthening the team.
Petrov is taking time but looks quality in the holding role - miles better than the previous incumbent McCann. That is an improvement.
Carew is willing and strong and has a great attitude unlike Baros who was a disgrace to the club and played with no desire. That is an improvement.
Maloney and Young now provide options on the wing. They both can beat players, are direct and stretch the opposition. Previously we had no wide men. Therefore that is an improvement.
Melberg, Cahill, Ridgewell and Laursen now look like they can defend. They are organized and seem to be able to play together and understand what their defensive partner is doing. previously they looked like strangers without direction and we were getting smashed by five goals against Arsenal. That is an improvement.
We now have a left back who looks of the highest quality. he has publicly stated that the previous regime did not instruct him how to play the left back role in the English game. The present coaches have settled him in and made him understand his duties. That is an improvement.
Gardner, Gabby, Moore and Bardsley are all youngsters with promise. O'Neil has given them defined roles and they have all played well. Last year, with the exception of Davis, our youngsters looked like drowning in the big league. That is an improvement.
Garth Barry wanted to leave this club before O'Neill joined us he is now our best player. That is an improvement.
We have drawn a lot of games this year but we have also lost far fewer than last year and fewer than Bolton who are above us. That is an improvement.
I agree that next year we should have higher expectations and I firmly believe we will be challenging the top ten consistently from now on. We should not forget where we were at in August last year, the turnaround has been magnificent and I am thoroughly looking forward to next year.
By Jake Findlay
Date:Monday April 23 2007
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