Okay, so on the face of it and for anyone who hasn’t been following Scunthorpe United’s season closely, a measly ten points after 13 League Two matches looks poor…
But… for us unfortunate souls in North Lincolnshire, the last six games have shown huge signs of promise, and although only two wins was the reward, the Iron are finally starting to climb.
The relegation rivals
United currently sit third-bottom, with only Stevenage and Morecambe below us. The Shrimpers have seven points, whilst ‘St Evenage’ have eight.
That means after sitting bottom for a good portion of the season already – in fact, for far too long for my weak heart – the Iron have managed to get three points away from that sole relegation spot, and that gap should continue to grow if the performance levels match recent weeks.
Whilst incredibly unfortunate, and to a massive extent heartbreaking, Bury’s demise means a reprieve for one of League Two’s worst teams over the course of the season, as only one goes down.
The odds on that one unlucky side being Morecambe are already seriously low, and the exciting football markets with Sporting Index already have them at Evens (1/1) to finish bottom. Pretty much suggesting there is almost already no hope of their survival.
For context, the last time Morecambe finished outside the bottom seven in League Two was during the 2014/15 season, when they finished 11th. Jim Bentley has done superbly on a small budget to keep them up in the season’s since then, but his time and luck may run short this season.
Stevenage are only a point ahead of Morecambe, but a team I believe will finish in and around the bottom three will be Macclesfield.
The Silkmen currently sit ten points above the Shrimpers, but with news emerging early in October that the players and staff had not been paid for the last two months, the wheels could very quickly fall off, and Macclesfield could find themselves fighting to avoid the fate they so heroically avoided under Sol Campbell during 2018/19, just twelve months on.
A change in attitude
Paul Hurst suffered a torrid time in his opening month or so, but seems to finally have the players at his disposal playing to the system he desires.
It would have been very easy for Chairman Peter Swann to pull the trigger during the winless spell, and other Iron managers have been sacked for far less, but by sticking by his man and going against his usual traits, he may have played a blinder.
There’s no doubting that this season will have yet more poor spells to come, as Hurst manoeuvres players and staff until he has the set up he wants, but time will be afforded to him to do so, which hasn’t been the norm under Swann.
It feels like the players are starting to take to Hurst, with the likes of Kevin van Veen speaking highly of him in the press, despite being told he could leave in the summer. I’d be bitter, but Kev has taken it all very well, and you really have to admire that.
What are the players saying?
Yann Songo’o, who has found himself in good form, feels the Iron are building on each good performance, and the impressive display against Northampton showed just that, when he told iFollow Iron:
“It’s a win we’ve been looking for, for a long time. We haven’t been winning enough but at the same time, we haven’t been losing.
“That was a build up from last week. The team put in a great performance away at Plymouth.”
Whilst Lee Novak, who fully announced his return from injury with two goals against the Cobblers, said:
“It was huge, but every game’s huge. We need to get three points to start moving up that table, that’s what we want to do. Hopefully we can start putting more wins together and move in the right direction.
“To get the three points today and build on last week, was massive for us.”
United are heading into a difficult run of games which starts with a trip to south Wales at the weekend to face Newport. If we can come out of the next month having moved up the table, it will be a great credit to the progress that the club is making.
One things for sure, Iron fans have good reason to feel happy and optimistic about the future, and that has been a long-time coming.