Rovers, Royals, Robins, Owls, Rams and Bees.
My sense of contentment is unusual and pleasurable. The chaotic and often contemptible events of last season have been mercifully replaced by the type of calm and methodical regeneration we have craved for some time. Don Massimo has taken a step back from the precipice of lunacy and for the moment becomes the type of owner we never thought he would.
We arrived at the international hiatus in business like fashion but I don’t think we were supposed to. Our encouraging improvement was made all the more impressive by the type of fixture schedule that Alan Hardaker would have been proud of. The late Football League secretary was said to loathe Don Revie and often allowed a personal antipathy to infect his professional dealings. It was this fractured relationship that gave birth to our enmity with the game’s overlords, leading to controversies such those involving Ray Tinkler or the one that befell us at Molineux in 1972. This latest indiscretion has only served to further fuel our paranoia.
A grueling run of four games in eight days involving consecutive trips to Berkshire and Bristol concluded in the way it had all began, a televised derby against excitable opponents keen to claim their cup final glory. If Herr Rosler had been unclear on the implications of leading the football family’s most divisive an unruly member, the season’s opening salvos will have left him in no doubt. They all try that little bit harder when the horrible hordes come to town.
A battling but ultimately tepid draw in Reading followed a last gasp cup defeat in Doncaster but it was the woeful collapse at Ashton Gate that hurt most of all. A plausible argument for improvement dramatically undermined by the spirit of ineptitude past. With confidence a little fragile the visit of Sheffield Wednesday would have would have seen South Yorkshire’s bunting sellers itching furtively once again but their ardour was frustrated by the wing play wizardry (yes…WINGPLAY wizardry) of Stuart Dallas and a second goal for Chris Wood.
The Kiwi’s third goal sparked delirium coming as it did in the dying embers of a tight tussle in the East Midlands. For some reason this particular cultural backwater has become our graveyard in recent years, so the sight of our burly number nine wheeling away after his wondrous strike felt rather surreal. It all seemed to reaffirm our new sense of enlightenment.
Unfortunately our enthusiasm was jarred somewhat by the visit of Brentford. The first half was as soulless as any that I’d experienced and the rank aimlessness left you to question the point of it all. Thankfully Herr Rosler cuts a decisive figure and the swift introductions of Mirco Antenucci and Luke Murphy rescued us from a disturbingly mediocre afternoon.