DOOM and gloom merchants and happy clappers unite, because Newport County have won a game of football.
And so it is that after five games and more hand wringing than we’ve seen in the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, the Exiles are off the mark and what a place to go and claim your first three points of the season.
The Exiles rode their luck at times at Fratton Park but the consensus is that they deserved what they got, even if there was a whiff of smash and grab about County’s rearguard action.
It took precisely two minutes for the positive among you to hit the comments section of the Argus website and make clear this was the start of a glorious revival, while the glass half empty brigade where equally quick to analysis that one swallow doesn’t make a summer.
And having privately written off the Exiles getting anything at Fratton Park, I have to confess to being somewhat giddy at the result on Saturday, a combination of not being there and not being on duty making me respond to the game more as a fan than a reporter, a rarity, but a nice feeling nonetheless.
So after two decent results in League Two, let’s revisit some of the key debates from so far this term and see if we can’t find some consensus.
Every statement in quotes being a direct message I’ve received online.
“County’s players aren’t good enough for League Two, as evidenced by last season’s bad run.”
I maintain the same position as Argus editor Kevin Ward on this matter, in that the run last season simply doesn’t matter.
The best way to illustrate why is to flip the season around and ask how fans would feel if the Exiles had struggled up until Christmas and then powered on from the New Year?
My view is that neither the good start nor the horrible finish represents County’s ability.
Until Christmas Newport looked like a genuine promotion challenger and afterwards (and the postponements and inactivity do represent at least a mitigating factor) they looked like relegation fodder.
However, combined, that meant Newport were a mid-table side and that means that absolutely were competitive in League Two.
It’s no more valid to highlight the run of four wins in 27 than to emphasise that County were promotion contenders until New Year’s Day last term.
Over the course of the campaign, County were competitive and they still are.
“Not many other managers would have survived a run like Justin Edinburgh has.”
A point I can’t argue one iota.
The fact is, a horrible end to a campaign and a bad start to the new one would have seen managers at many other clubs sacked and it is to Newport’s eternal credit that they’ve shown Edinburgh such patience and understanding.
Football fans, tied as we are to one club for the rest of our lives, often bemoan a total lack of loyalty in the sport we love and continuously lament the fact that players and staff just don’t share our devotion.
To them it is a just a job and it aggravates the life out of us.
But loyalty is a two-way street and the fact is, Edinburgh has shown loyalty to County and has a desire to succeed in the job in the long term, as evidenced by him turning down approaches from other clubs.
Not only have County rightly rewarded such loyalty, they’ve also taken into account the fact that Edinburgh took a relegation threatened club up from the Conference at the first time of asking and well before schedule.
Not many managers would’ve survived the horror run Edinburgh did, but similarly, few managers have built up the same level of credit as the ex-Rushden boss.
Chairman Les Scadding has complete faith that Edinburgh is the right man to take County forward and based on his entire tenure with the club, that isn’t a hard stance to justify, is it?
“With the players County have, 5-3-2 is the only formation we can use successfully.”
I strongly disagree on this one, but would add the caveat that with their current personnel, it is unquestionably the system that suits Newport best at the present moment.
However, I think it’ll be to their detriment if Newport are not able to mix things up as the season progresses and at times, judge their formation strictly on the opposition.
In February and March last term Newport had become extremely predictable and each and every club they faced deployed the same tactics, high, overlapping fullbacks utilised to nullify Newport’s wingbacks and with it, their width. And more times than not, the tactic worked.
County can play 4-3-3 and they can play 4-2-3-1 or even 3-4-3 as they did so brilliantly last term on Boxing Day at Wycombe and as the season unfolds, they absolutely should.
However, for that approach to work, the Exiles need to have Max Porter fit and firing.
At the moment Newport don’t have a natural holding midfielder and that is the reason they should currently stick with 5-3-2. But in the longer term, Edinburgh and Jimmy Dack will need to be more flexible and they know that.
“The revival starts now/one swallow doesn’t make a summer.”
And on this one I truly have no idea, we’ll have to wait and see what the Cambridge game brings next Monday.
But one thing is certain, County’s confidence and belief in themselves will have increased after the past two results and that’s very good news indeed, whichever side of the fence you sit.