Watford Demonstrate Killer Instinct
Bruce Halling looks back at last weekend's Football League action and picks up on some of the things that should be noted from the weekend's results.
Just two weekends into the Football League season and already the long absence of league football over the summer is beginning to become a distant memory, with action up and down the country by the bucketful. By the time all of the dust had settled, what have we learned from the weekend's action?
• Watford have the killer instinct of potential champions
There are many things that any team needs in order to sustain a promotion challenge over the course of a season. One of those things is the ability for a team to show a killer instinct and to capitalise on a situation which is favourable to them, whether that be to press home a man advantage or not relenting when leading by a couple of goals and turning a comfortable looking victory into a thrashing. If a team can demonstrate that they possess this ability, success soon follows.
Watford's victory over Bournemouth demonstrated that this is a team that possesses a killer instinct as well as the determination and conviction to keep playing right up until the final whistle. This, combined with the quality that Gianfranco Zola's side possesses makes them a side that you cannot afford to take lightly this season and I suspect that Bournemouth won't be the only team to find themselves on the wrong end of a big defeat this season.
• Coventry face another testing season
It's been a long and stressful summer for Coventry City fans. As if all the problems they have suffered over the past year haven't taken enough of a toll, the enthusiasm and optimism usually associated with the first home league game of the season were instead replaced by frustration and anguish at the fact that the club are playing home games miles away from home at Northampton's Sixfields stadium. It's an issue which has divided fans, with some willing to support the club by making the journey to Northampton while others protest against those whose actions have put the club into this position. This isn't an issue which will go away overnight and it will ensure that it's going to be a testing season for everybody involved with the club.
It's not all doom and gloom, however, as Coventry were able to snatch all three points in a game which seesawed back and forth between the two sides before Billy Daniels scored a late winner to give the Sky Blues a first win in their temporary home. They had led 3-0 at half time, so the fact they allowed Bristol City to get right back into the game will frustrate them to no end. However, a win is a win and given the fact they started the season ten points worse off than the other 23 teams in the division, all that matters is the points are in the bag.
• Southend show new-found strength and determination
In recent seasons, Southend have been a team that haven't always been able to get the job done, and some of their harshest critics have accused them of being bottlers. They may have had a point, too, with many feeling the throwing away of a two goal lead late on at Plymouth cost them promotion in the 2011-2012 season, while an early red card for Bilel Mohsni in an FA cup tie at Oldham prevented them from being able to challenge to win a game which would have earned the club a lucrative trip to Anfield in the next round of the competition. The trend continued last season, with a number of lacklustre performances during the Spring putting an end to any chance the club had at making the playoffs.
Things appear to have changed under new boss Phil Brown, with Southend fighting to hold on to win at Hartlepool despite spending half the game with a one-man disadvantage. In seasons gone by, Southend would have inevitably thrown away the three points, but Brown's side this season have a desire, determination and a strength about them which will give their fans reason to be optimistic about the season ahead.
Twelve teams currently have a 100% record heading into next weekend's fixtures and will be looking to keep up their good starts, while thirteen have yet to register their first point of the season and will be eager to make amends for poor starts. It's still far too early to make any assertions about where any of these teams might end up by the end of next season, but while teams are jockeying for early supremacy and points in the Football League, you can be certain that none of these teams will be taking anything for granted and will be eager to progress their season with a win this weekend.