Gary Double

Thursday 8 August 2002

Blimey, who was that team in the second half? Can't help thinking I saw them a few times last season namely at home to Sunderland and Newcastle and, oh yes, away to Manchester United!

I know it's a cliche, but what a difference a goal makes. Once Leggy had superbly converted Sean's floater, it was as if the shackles had come off. First time, one touch football of the very highest order. And what a goal that would have been if Bob had converted that flowing move when we were one up.

Such a difference to the first-half when it looked like our only aim was not to concede. I honestly think the lads thought that Sochaux were better than they were and paid them too much respect. In truth, with a number of their first choicers rested (God knows why with the UEFA Cup beckoning) once we took the game to them, they looked ordinary at best.

The first-half was professional if not pretty. You could tell that Tiggy had got to work on them as soon as the second period began. Bob should have scored early on, but his two away goals have got us this far, so don't be too hard on him.

And what a difference Harry made when he came on. Great finish and he could've had one before that. No doubt the talk of a move away gave him a little extra something. His finish reminded me so much of his form in the First Division when his sheer power and strength caused so many problems. Let's hope he can duplicate it in the Prem ­only if he stays with us!

Once again I thought Sean was outstanding in the middle of the park, covering every bit of green stuff and also getting forward on occasions. I counted just the one stray pass and I don't think I've ever seen him enjoy a game as much well perhaps Blackburn away a couple of seasons back.

Good to see Ina making another solid outing and Tiggy's plan of having a virtual shadow squad will, I'm sure, pay dividends as the season progresses. Steed is still very young and had a tough season last time out, playing in every match. It will help him enormously if he doesn't have to play 90 minutes every week, sometimes twice a week.

At the back, VDS was once again very solid and made a couple of excellent saves and the back four were in truth rarely troubled. Alain and Melv were particularly impressive and the full-backs did their job even though Abdes had quite a handful in the first half.

Just a quick word about Boa. He seems to be settling into a left-winger's role pretty well. His direct approach, pace and strength must be a nightmare for a right-back and not just when he's going forward. His tackling is a big asset and so long as he can control his temper he could be something of a surprise packed this season.

With the news that we are not finished buying just yet, things are beginning to take shape for the new season. If we can start matches as if we're one up, this could be an exciting season ahead.

Oh, and before we get underway there's the small matter of a Cup Final, and a European one to boot! Perhaps all those cynics who said it was a pointless exercise to enter should ask Graham Taylor and the Villa fans just how they feel today!

Regardless of whether we beat Bologna and I think we will we have a team approaching full match fitness at a time when others have been playing meaningless friendlies and giving games to players who have little chance of starting the season. Now, that's what I call pointless!

COYW

GD