I think it's safe to say we got the man we wanted in the job. Kit Symons has been our manager now for 11 weeks, results have improved radically, performances have been much stronger, players are happy, fans are happy, everything seems to be going great. It certainly would be hard to argue that Kit is doing a sterling job but that's not going to stop us from taking a good long look at how our gaffa is getting on.
This is the first of what is likely to be a monthly series where we will focus on the manager. This will follow his performance, how his tactics change, if his style has evolved with experience, the players he picks and who he might bring in.
If there are any negatives to have come out of Kits' reign so far it would be his substitution decisions. I've heard many a frustrated supporter behind me screaming for a sub and it's certainly something that I hope changes. We had this with Roy where a sub would rarely be made before 60 minutes, regardless of situation except injuries of course. Now it seems that we won't see a sub until 70 - 80 minutes when there is very little opportunity to get into the pace of, or change a game. A particular game that springs to mind was against Blackpool at home. After fighting back to 2-2 we had 19 corners and 62 crosses yet sat on the bench was our now loaned out, giant striker Matt Smith. If there was ever a chance for him to prove his worth it was that game. To counter this though Kits' biggest strength is possibly his consistency with selection. No longer is selection a roulette game with Kit seemingly sure on his best 11. This is bringing confidence to those players, helping to build some solid partnerships across the pitch.
It's impossible to ignore the 5-0 drubbing we received at home to Watford. Yes the sending off changed the game but truth be told we were barely the second best team on the pitch, if you include the half time kids shootout we were fourth. However it's in these defeats that you often learn about your players. Hopefully Kit will realise now what he is missing from his squad and who are the real fighters, up to the task of pushing us on to that play off place.
Once again the lack of a real holding midfield player left an incredibly young back four over exposed and with the introduction of Kiraly there was no hope. A big test for Kit was to see if he could get a goalkeeper in on an emergency loan in time for today's game. I really thought this would happen, Jamie Ashdown was ready to come in and would have certainly been up for the game against his former club but the move has been blocked by the FA. I can't understand this, yes we have Kiraly and despite his form/talent/age, he is a first team keeper in the eyes of the FA, but we have Marek Rodak as our now 2nd choice who last year played in the under 18's. It's a great opportunity for him but surely it's too soon for the 18 year old with no first team experience. However the FA have spoken, Kiraly will fill in for the games Bettinelli is out for. I assumed it would be 3 being a straight red but a tweet from the paragon of information that is white noise,( if you don't follow him do it now!) suggests it may only be one. I have everything crossed for this to be true. Regardless the team will no doubt be tasked will keeping the number of shots against down to a minimum.
As far as signings go our only one in the loan window was Fofana. Another young midfielder was probably not top of my list. Kit has been saying the right things in his press conferences about bringing in someone who is right for the club and I hope he turns out to be so, learning his trade at the highly rated Man City academy we'll be hoping to see some of that potential realised sooner rather than later. Can he provide that defensive anchor? January can't come soon enough in my opinion and I hope talks are already starting for a strong defensive midfielder to come in on January 1st, preferably with some championship experience to take the pressure off of Parker to guide our young players through the game.
Results in Kit reign have gone LWWWLWDWLDDWLWL. Compare this to our start under Magath LLLLWDLLand it's clear to see just how incredible the turnaround has been. It's important to remember the squad Kit has inherited, not built and especially the mental state it was in. We were all crying for our Fulham back in the stands and we really do have it. It's going to take time to get us back to where we were after effectively starting 15 points behind our rivals, expectations of automatic promotion have been dashed however thoughts of consecutive relegation's are a nightmare I haven't had to endure for a while. The rest of this season looks like it will be an exciting roller coaster of team development, not knowing what any result will be and hopefully a late play-off place push and I think Kit deserves a lot of credit for that. If I had to give him a score video game style it would be a 7/10 a great start with some bugs to iron out, the inevitable sequel could be a classic.
Next time we'll have a look at the business we're doing in the transfer window and how the squad is coping with the always busy Christmas period. Good luck Kit and the boys COYW'S!