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League One

Andy Ritchie's Blog 11

31 October 2012

Fans sometimes forget that footballers are human beings with emotions, so when a player is booed incessantly by his own teams' support it can be a very hurtful and upsetting time. If you're the one singled out, it's really not nice at all.

This season the Brentford's boo boys have been on the back of striker Paul Hayes, a player I worked with at Barnsley. Last weekend he scored his first two goals for the Bees against Hartlepool United, and I sincerely hope that it signals the start of a better relationship between him and the Bees fans.

Some players are more resilient than others when it comes to receiving flak, and having known Paul I would say that he's more of a confidence player. He's definitely not the type of character who would thrive on negativity.

He's a lovely lad and when he gets his head right, when he's confident, he is a stunningly good finisher. Paul's big, he has pace and he knows where the back of the net is. I believe Paul Hayes can be anything he wants to be, and that doesn't preclude playing at the highest level. At his best he's capable of being a Premier League player.

All I'll say to the Brentford fans who have their doubts is, stick with him. He will come good for you. And it wouldn't surprise me at all if he now embarks on a hot streak that sees him reach double figures within a matter of weeks. He's a capable striker that deserves support.

Brian Laws will receive plenty of backing as he embarks on a third stint as Scunthorpe United manager this week. I know Lawsy and he'll be delighted to be back in charge of a club that he loves dearly. He lives locally and cares deeply about Scunthorpe United.

I do feel sorry Alan Knill, who must be choked at losing his job, but it just didn't work out for him there. He'll be back though. He's a nice fella, who will learn from the experience and return as a stronger man and manager before too long.

As for Scunthorpe's prospects, I hope the Iron fans have a bit of a reality check. They've over achieved during the last decade or more, and even though they find themselves struggling a bit in npower League 1 this season, that's not a disgrace for a club of their size.

Yes, Scunthorpe United do have a nice stadium, and yes they've had some terrific players in recent seasons but they don't get big crowds, they don't have bundles of money to spend, and they don't have sponsors queuing up to offer them lucrative deals.

This has always been a club which has lived to its means and if they have to settle for consolidation at this level of English football then I don't think that's so bad. You are what you are, and I wish supporters would realise that more often, rather than going crazy at the first sign of a dip in form.

Whatever happens, Brian Laws will do his best to revive their fortunes. If he doesn't grab it right away, I'd suggest the fans and board give him a bit of time, as he deserves it.

On the pitch, Sheffield United are quietly going about their business and remain unbeaten. They aren't shouting about how well they're doing, and to be frank they aren't setting the world on fire with their performances, but they are producing solid, effective football.

Danny Wilson must be pleased with what he's getting from the Blades, who will surely be strong favourites to go up at the end of the season.

Portsmouth, on the other hand, are unlikely to be promoted but they too have impressed me of late.

They may have lost their last two games to Stevenage and Sheffield United but they're improving all the time in my view. Considering where they were back in August, not knowing if they would be able to field a team or not, I think they've done remarkably well to earn 18 points already.

It's going to be a tough season for Pompey but from the outside looking in, it appears they are made of pretty strong stuff.

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