“We are not a big favourite for winning the title or something like this.”
The words from manager, Daniel Farke, following Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Luton Town. It is now 12 competitive matches without a win and counting. That elusive first win behind closed doors can’t come quickly enough.
Listen, I know some fans regard the League Cup as nothing more than a competition for the elite to throw in fringe players and the kids – almost a Mickey Mouse competition that isn’t to be taken seriously. However, I’m of the opinion that clubs such as ourselves should target cup competitions as a chance to lift some silverware.
I wasn’t around for the famous 1985 Milk Cup Final and I’d love to see the club lift something other than the second tier trophy in my lifetime.
Prior to Manchester City claiming the trophy as their own over the past few years, teams such as Birmingham City and Swansea have both emerged triumphant in the League Cup over the past decade.
Are those clubs of a higher standing than ourselves? No, of course they’re not. Instead, we’ve been knocked out by the likes of Crawley Town, Shrewsbury and MK Dons during that time, and now you can add Luton Town to that list.
I understand that we had 17 players on international duty, I really do. It’s testament to the calibre of players at this football club and most of our division rivals can only look on enviously at the strength in depth of our squad. But, how different would that first XI really have been with a fully available squad?
As to be expected, rotation is often used in League Cup competitions, particularly in the early rounds, and with the exception of young Daniel Barden in goal, is that team really too dissimilar to what Farke would have picked? Christoph Zimmermann, Timm Klose, Kieran Dowell and Jordan Hugill were involved and there were also starts from the promising Bali Mumba, Sam McCallum and Josh Martin.
You can’t say it didn’t have quality.
But going back to Farke’s original comment, how can we go into the season as anything but favourites for promotion? As a fan, I want confidence from my manager in the media. Stuart Webber famously said that as a club, they sent Farke to “war without a gun” following relegation last season.
However, fast forward a few months, and there are 11 new signings through the door. On paper, they’re exactly what we need. Quality from Skipp, Championship pedigree from Dowell, a physical presence in Hugill and another centre back option that we were crying out for in Gibson, to name but a few. It’s clear that this season Farke has been given all the tools to succeed.
In addition, we’ve also kept most of our big names too so far, with Jamal Lewis the only departee. It’s likely one or two others from Ben Godfrey, Max Aarons, Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia will leave, but it doesn’t seem to be the mass exodus we first anticipated.
In closing, I guess I just want a bit of optimism from the management.
For the past 14 months, we were told we would probably finish 20th and that the season was a free hit. Mission accomplished. It’s a new season, a fresh start.
I want Farke to be bullish and give us fans something to really cling to and get behind. Farke’s got some way to go to put the nightmare of last season to bed but a win against Huddersfield on Saturday would certainly be a start.