Manager Graham Westley is optimistic that his side will go from strength to strength after the opening week of competitive action.
The North End boss met the press ahead of the trip to face Bournemouth on Saturday and said he had been pleasantly surprised by the level of performance against Huddersfield in the Cup and said the team had now to return to that level and surpass it.
“We put in a level of performance against Huddersfield that was about as good as we’ve got with our newness,” he said. “We will get better as we go forward. We dropped our level a bit against Colchester and stayed at a similar level against Shrewsbury and the lack of fluency and cutting edge cost us a bit.
“We’ve got a level that is mid-table but we have to build on that. This is a new squad of players that knows next to nothing about playing with each other, in its first run of competitive action and it is only going to go in one direction – from strength to strength. I’m optimistic. I was surprised how good they were against Huddersfield; I didn’t think they’d get there that quickly, and now it is about getting back to that level and going beyond that level and if we do that, we’ll win a lot of games in League One.”
Looking back over the first ten days of competitive action, the manager felt his team could have had more from their endeavours, but felt the side need to be more fluent and clinical at the forward end of the field.
“We’ve started the season with a win, a draw and a defeat. If you look at the 46 games last season, these results every three games would put us in a better position than last season, so we are moving forward from where we are at. It is not the type of performance we want at this football club, but at the same time, you don’t go from 15th to top just by clicking your fingers.
“When you make a lot of change it is inevitable that you go through some learning phase. The team is learning. It is playing some decent football on the whole. It looks solid enough defensively and we are creating chances – we had 15 attempts on goal on Tuesday night – and but for two refereeing decisions (the penalty on Beardsley against Colchester and the offside at Shrewsbury for the goal), we’d be sitting here with a couple of wins and a draw and we’d all be happy.
“We are not showing quite enough fluidity or clinicality as a team yet, but as a team there are some positive signs there and I’m sure the results will come. I feel quite relaxed about things. I want to be winning matches the same as the brilliant fans we have on the terraces, but I know transition takes a bit of time, but we will win games as we move forward.”
The trip down south sees the Club face off against one of the League’s big spenders and the North End chief admitted they will be a tough nut to crack: “They [Bournemouth] are spending astronomical amounts of money. Lee Barnard was a player that attracted me, but we couldn’t get anywhere near the deal that was done for him. It is frightening the extent to which they are competing in this league. They’ve got the pick of the players, investing really heavily and having a real crack at it and you can’t underestimate aside that is doing that. It is not going to be an easy trip.
“We’ve had to adapt our style a bit as we’ve lost one or two through injury, so as we learn to be a new team we are having to adapt to having some resources in and some out, but the possession have been positive and it is just a case of the fluidity and the cutting edge coming. It wouldn’t surprise me to put in a really good performance and get a really good win at the weekend.
“We had a magnificent travelling support on the last day of last season – we took an unbelievable number down there. The passion of the fans at this football club is something to behold. I know the boys are starting to get the flavour for what it takes.
“A combination of newness and nerves is probably holding them back a bit from showing the pride that is necessary to fill those shirts, but they are having a good go and I think people are pleased on the whole with their work rate, albeit there is a lot more to come from them.”