They say ten games is a good time to assess how the season’s going and which teams are looking strong.
Well, after a horrendous start to Chris Wilder’s men have managed to turn things round with a series of performances all too different from what we often saw under Nigel Adkins.
Wilder had done this by making some tough decisions and by not being afraid to change his mind. He picked the same starting eleven for the first three or four games but then realised it wasn’t working and decisively did something about it.
The ‘something’ was actually a few things. The first was bringing in the steadying influence of the experienced Jake Wright, the second was allowing John Brayford to leave to free up some money to sign other players. The third was using that money to recruit goalkeeper Simon Moore, centre-half Ethan Ebanks-Landell and his fellow defender Daniel Lafferty. The fourth was that now he had these players he could change the formation from 5-3-2. The fifth was reverting Matt Done to a striker, not a winger or full back.
The result is winning and drawing games that would have been lost last season. Moore and Ebanks-Landell have made an enormous difference. The small attendance at the Leicester City EFL Trophy game made it possible to hear that Moore was constantly barking orders to his defence. Ebanks-Landell has become an instant fans’ favourite, allowing his mistake that cost a goal at Fleetwood to be overlooked, especially when he popped up in the 95th minute with the equaliser. He plays like Chris Morgan used to play, which is praise indeed.
But it’s not all roses, despite the unbeaten run that has taken United to fourth place. Bristol Rovers and Peterborough caused us loads of problems at the Lane, and there haven’t been enough clean sheets (none away from home). It’s looking better, but there is still much that can be improved.