Phil West says...
I’m not desperately worried about our current away form, nor the fact that, during October, we only play once in the league in front of a home crowd. After an opening swing of fixtures during which we were rarely on the road, it’s now time for us to test our mettle at less-than-accommodating stadiums and in front of some tough crowds.
Portsmouth was an aberration. We all know that. Neither the result, nor the performance that led to it, will be repeated this season, and despite the fallout from it, I saw it as a good chance for the team & Lee Johnson to address issues like game management and tactical flexibility, which they will doubtless have done ahead of Gillingham.
October’s remaining fixtures will be a good test of this team’s mettle, and its ability to deliver results in adverse circumstances. With a team featuring so many young players, and players who are still adjusting to life in League One, we will certainly find out whether they have the qualities needed to spearhead a successful campaign. I also expect the members of the leadership group, in particular Aiden McGeady, to put their experience to good use and provide some guidance to their younger teammates.
I don’t believe it will be a season-defining month, but it certainly represents an excellent chance for us to burnish our promotion credentials. We should fear nobody, and if we can win Wednesday’s EFL Trophy game, we ought to restart the league campaign in a very confident frame of mind.
Kelvin Beattie says...
It is undoubtedly a challenging set of fixtures we approach.
Our away results in the league arguably would indicate an issue, but our performances in away fixtures (including cup ties) bear closer scrutiny.
The Portsmouth result apart, we have saved some our better performances away from the SoL. The Burton game was possibly our most dominating performance and the games at Blackpool and Lincoln gave strong indicators of how the squad can play on “foreign turf”.
Gillingham, Crewe and Rotherham represent a stiff test and we will be doing very well to take maximum points from all three of these games.
There used to be an old adage suggesting if you win your home games a draw the away games this will get you promoted. This may still apply in League One this season, but I see us as well capable of picking up wins on the road as well as taking a “good draw” out of some of our promotion rivals.
We will see where we land in November - I remain optimistic, and whilst recognising that most teams experience a dip in form at some point in their season, my sense of this squad is they will see this next set of fixtures as a good challenge and a barometer of how the season might pan out!
Malc Dugdale says...
I can see why there is concern about our league form away compared to at home, but ignoring Pompey I think we will sort it out in time, and our away form isn’t as bad as many other teams if you consider all competitions.
Before that poor show down south we had a good away win against MK Dons in the league, and we have beaten Championship opponents Blackpool and close rivals Wigan and Lincoln in the cups, all away from the SOL.
We should have beaten both Burton and Fleetwood away in the league but didn’t, for reasons we will have to iron out, and in places already are.
While the results in the league have been iffy, the performances in places have deserved more, and over the season that should level out.
One question the coach will have to consider is, when playing away from home in the league, do any of the wider squad players doing well outside Tyne and Wear in the cups deserve to cross over, based on their input in cup outings and their ability to help better away from the SOL?
This is another challenge we are glad to have due to the depth of squad quality, and may be one of the ways that Johnson improves our points haul on the road.
With a month like this one, he has plenty of opportunities to refine our approach, so let's get to Halloween without any horror shows, and we will be more than okay.
Joseph Tulip says...
I view the month of October as a great opportunity for us to prove that playing away from home can be just as fruitful as our games at the SoL have been so far this season.
They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I think our young charges (and the not-so-young members of our squad) will have learned from the humbling experience at Fratton Park a week past Saturday.
The next time we play away from home, I’m sure there will be a determination among the players to make amends, especially with such strong competition for places in the side.
Not only that, the next time we face adverse weather conditions, regardless of who we are up against, the players will be ready for that type of gritty battle.
There’s perhaps a lesson for Lee Johnson and his coaching team in terms of a plan B or even a plan C when the weather doesn’t allow for our total football style.
But in short, I’m not worried. It's too early to judge whether we’ll be a top-two side at the end of the season, despite our great start. However, if we play as we have done for most of the season so far, keep learning and evolving as a squad, we’ll get plenty of points in this division both home and away.