Sunday, September 24, 2006

St Rangers in the night

Oxford have made some odd cameos on TV recently. Firstly the Peterborough game, Jim Smith's momentous return, was featured in Big Ron Manager, where we found that there was a mass punch up in the Posh dressing room after the game. Then last week The Kassam hosted the final trials for The Match - SKY's celebrity football game. There was little to learn from this, apart from the fact that Jim Smith still puts signs up in the dressing room. The one that struck me was 'Simplicity is genius', which is perfect for the conference.

There is a common theme about our games this season. Teams we play feel they should have 'got something out of the game' and that goals are scored against the run of play. Oxford fans are similar in their criticism, identifying that despite winning, we've been a bit rubbish.

Experience from League 2 will tells us that precious few teams play decent football at this level. Perhaps two teams a year played with any style, and they would be the teams that be promoted, usually going on to do well in League 1 and above. The rest are much of a muchness and it is usually a combination of good team spirit, luck, confidence and occasionally a goalscorer, that differentiates the teams that do well with those that struggle. Inconsistency is the norm.

Ergo, the Conference is a division that not only lacks technical quality but the influence of luck and other random factors play a greater role the further down the ladder you travel. It means that despite our early season dominance we are still not good enough to glide through games with a joie de vivre of a Premiership side although we're good enough to do the simple things better than other teams.

We're currently just about too good for the Conference, which is all that's needed and, I believe, good enough to compete well in League 2, so there should be a little bit to spare. But there will be scares, random factors may raise their ugly heads, some results will need to be ground out, a bit like the Stafford result. We shouldn't expect a breeze but the results are quite clear; we've got through a hectic opening phase of the season in excellent shape.

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