Five reasons to be cheerful for Siewert's Town battlers; story so far following pre-season work out.
There are good reasons not to get too carried away - they were only friendlies, after all, with both games against Greuther Furth - a 1-1 draw in the morning, a 1-0 win in the afternoon - seeing Siewert replace his entire outfield after an hour.
It is also worth bearing in mind that several potential first-teamers have been absent from the Austria training camp on international duty. But this is what we have seen so far: | |THIS TEAM ARE DESPERATE TO WIN THE games were only friendlies, but the will to win was palpable throughout the two games, with the occasional signs of simmering frustration the clearest indication.
Juninho Bacuna, Alex Pritchard, Jonathan Hogg, Lewis O'Brien, Joel Coleman and Jan Siewert all had their moments, variously exchanging angry words with opponents, the officials, and occasionally - in a much more low-key way - their teammates.
At one point in the morning game I genuinely thought Hogg was going to start fighting with Greuther Furth left-back Maximilian Wittek.
It was clear that this is not a team that want to coast through their intense training they have been put through this week they want to get back to winning habits, regardless of the occasion.
A run of defeats could cause that to become a double-edged sword - it's easy to see how a good mood could quickly sour under that kind of self-imposed pressure to succeed but at this moment that level of motivation can only be a good thing.
|4-3-3 WILL BE THE WAY SIEWERT played two different starting lineups, with one that appeared to be largely his firstchoice from the players available to him and the other of which was more of a second string.
What was constant between the two, however, was the formation. Both versions of the team played the same 4-3-3, which would at times become a 4-2-3-1 - most notably when an extra midfielder was required to step up and help the press when the opposition had the ball in their own half.
Siewert switched between 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 in the Premier League after taking the reins in January, but the well-earned draws the side claimed in the last two games of the season (home to Manchester United, away to Southampton) playing 4-3-3 seem to have made up Siewert's mind that that is the way to go. It is a formation that suits the personnel. Town have an absolute glut of attacking wingers who would rather play in a front three than wide in a midfield four.
In central midfield each of the main options at the camp look capable of playing at least two of the three roles - a six, an eight and a 10 - with Jon Stankovic, who looks to be preferred at centre-back once again, and Alex Pritchard, who looks set to be converted into a full-blown winger - offering extra depth if need be.
|LEWIS O'BRIEN LOOKS CHAMPIONSHIP-READY THE 20-year-old midfielder spent last season out on loan at Bradford City, with a neutral colleague who watched them several times last season describing his performances as 'a cut above League One level.'.
That's quite a compliment for a player in his rookie season for a team sitting rock bottom of that division. The local press gave him similar rave reviews.
As such, O'Brien was one of the players I was most excited to see this summer and he did not disappoint. Interestingly, he was selected in the broadly first-choice eleven in place of Juninho Bacuna.
That was quite possibly just a case of Siewert wanting to mix the newer faces in with the more established figures in the squad but either way, O'Brien was the outstanding player in the first of the two friendlies. The youngster was brilliant in the press and in the tackle, with three of Town's chances on goal coming as a direct result of O'Brien winning the ball in midfield and either carrying it forward or laying it off quickly and smartly for an attacker.
He also played a big part in the goal that eventually came, although it was Hogg who won and played a quick ball for Karlan Grant, it was O'Brien's chasing that forced the Furth midfielder to turn blindly in Hogg's direction and then panic under pressure from the more senior midfielder.
Judging players based on 90 minutes of football is folly but this was an excellent start for O'Brien as he looks to show he is ready for Championship football.
|KARLAN GRANT IS THE STRIKER TOWN NEED TWO goals in two games, despite the man himself feeling like he was 'sloppy' due to lack of fitness. You just don't worry about whether or not Grant will find the net when he gets slipped through on goal or receives a cross inside the six yard box: the boy has 'it.'.
|SOME OF LAST SUMMER'S TRANSFER 'FLOPS' COULD YET COME GOOD WINGERS Adama Diakhaby and Isaac Mbenza both had to deal with Dw David Wagner's switch to a winger-less back five and their own injury problems last summer, but could find their place in the Championship.
in cC bBwc Mbenza is not in Austria having been on international duty with Belgium under-21s, but Diakhaby was the difference-maker when he came on as a substitute in the afternoon game, looking sharp down the right and laying on the cross from which Grant scored.
adc Ffl bKoc Diakhaby's combination with Florent Hadergjonaj up the right flank was surprisingly effective in both games in fact, with the Kosovan looking good on the overlap and allowing Diakhaby to cut inside and run at defenders.
oc Soc With speculation about Tommy Smith's future continuing to rumble on - the former skipper was curiously absent from both games despite being in Austria - Hadergjonaj would appear to be in with a very good shout of being Siewert's first-choice right-back next season.
dHwS n All three players (Mbenza, Diakhaby and Hadergjonaj) received average ratings between five and six out of ten when we asked you to rank last season's transfer business at the end of the campaign.
Dre fi atr c With a bit of luck on the injury front, they could yet change a few minds in the longer term.