Reflecting on what was a busy September which saw us in action in three competitions, it has been a real roller-coaster month for us.
There have been ups and downs and we’ve been tested – not least with a lengthy injury list – but I believe all the players are going to be better for these experiences.
We opened the month with a Premier League 2 trip to Spurs where we went down 2-0 in what was a strange game. We enjoyed most of the possession, created a host of chances and looked the most likely team to score on the night.
But we then conceded two silly goals, which has been our Achilles heel really, and it gave us an uphill struggle which we couldn’t really surmount on the night.
So, it was a disappointing result although several aspects of the performance were really good.
Then moving on we entertained Lyon at home in our opening UEFA Youth League game and by this stage we were really struggling with injuries.
Eric Garcia had been due back in late August but then he pulled his hamstring again in training. Cameron Humphreys was also injured which meant we massively affected in defence while we also lost Nabil Touaizi too.
Looking back at the Lyon game we weren’t great, but the 5-2 score line was truly reflective of the game. We should have levelled at 2-2 but, instead, they went away and got a couple of late goals which tilted the score line.
So, by this stage, although there were plenty of positives, the results were really going against us. Everyone wants to do well, so it was disappointing, and we had long conversations about it after the Lyon game and reacted in the right way by recording three straight wins.
Going back into the Premier League 2 at home to Derby at the Academy Stadium, we were excellent for most of the match, going 3-0 up before they scored two late goals to make it a nervy finish.
It should have been far more comfortable than that, but it was a really pleasing performance – not least the fact we gave Taylor Bellis, who is just 16, his first start and had another 16-year-old, Alpha Dionkou, starting too.
Then it was back into the Checkatrade Trophy for our second group game away at Crewe Alexandra where I think we produced our best display of the season to date in winning 4-1.
To record a comfortable win of that magnitude at the home of League Two opposition was really satisfying. Everything about the game: the opposition, being on an away ground at night… it was so satisfying to achieve that positive outcome after some sticky results.
We then rounded off the month with another fine 4-1 win on the road, this back in our league clash at Swansea.
Rabbi Matondo scored a superb hat-trick for us and the result put us back on top of the table for a couple for days
So far, the league has gone well overall. We’re still third, just a point off the top and although that’s not the primary concern, it means we’re in a good position.
But equally at times, with what’s happened in the Champions League, we need to take stock and look at the big picture. I think the key is that we just need to be a bit more professional at times in our performances.
So there is plenty to work on but also a lot of positives too ahead of what is going to be a challenging run of six games in 18 days when we return to action at home to Chelsea a week on Saturday.