In our last two seasons in Tier Two, both of which ended in Promotion of course, we won our first home game, but this year its going to be different. This time its a single point from the first home fixture with five new players in the starting line-up, in Saturday's 1-1 draw, with the most unwelcome sign being the exuberant way that Scunthorpe reacted at the end of the game.
Maybe after 43 years away from Tier Two anything was welcome but the way they celebrated a 1-1 draw it was pretty apparent that it was, from the players and fans viewpoint, a little bit of "Giant-Killing". Maybe they have an inferior attitude after all the years away but it would seem obvious that every game, this season at least, is going to be a chance for the opponents to measure themselves against what they see as "premiership material" and its going to make it all the harder. Being everyones favorites to win the fizzies is not going to help us gain points.
The game was also a lot more physical than anything seen in Tier One and a lot of Scunthorpe pushing and shoving was annoyingly condoned and ignored by the referee. Pards has already said that superior technique will not always be enough and in Saturdays game this was glaringly obvious. Whether Pards has brought wisely during the summer remains to be seen but with ZiZi returning and with the lamentations about the missing Holland, it could be that a midfield closely resembling the one we had last year is on the cards.
The unveiling of two midfielders at the same time was a bit of a shock, not eased by the fact that one of them was old boy ZiZi. He didn't exactly light up the Premiership during his 12 appearances and one goal, as seen by the fact that nobody made him an offer to stay in the UK, but it's a bit of a coup for Pards to get him for £2M. And its kinda nice and old-fashioned to hear him say that he wants to continue with us and help get us back where we belong, in marked contrast to others I could mention.
Also signing-on at the Valley was one Therry Racon, a youngster of 23 from Guingamp in the French Second Division. Racon appears to be another for the future, although Pards seems impressed by "his fantastic athletic ability and agility and I like the look of his composure". 550K Euros seems a lot for an unknown frenchmen that's played once for Marseille and has been dropping down divisions ever since and not seeming to have played many games at 2nd Division Guingamp where he was squad number 19 or 24 depending on where you look.
But Pards seem to have an eye for unrecognised talent, as witness Semedo and Yassin M, not to mention taking Reo-Coker to Upton Park and Steve Sidwell to Reading both of which have improved over the years and have now moved on for large amounts of cash.