Gloucester’s narrow victory against on Friday against a limited and pretty ordinary Newport/Gwent Dragons collective was barely deserved. A late Nicky Robinson penalty snatched the spoils for the home side but the crowd filed out of the Kingsholm arena muted and with a hollow sensation that this season could prove long and arduous. It seemed as if Gloucester were fielding a scratch fifteen; any evidence of a team ethic was well hidden and it proved frustrating to witness a tangible lack of cohesion, passion and skill from my favoured side. I confess I look back to April 2003 and wonder what has gone so terribly wrong since then. The Powergen Cup winning side contained player after player that the club has emphatically failed to replace. The likes of Boer, Paramore, Forrester, Woodman, Vickery, Roncero, Gomarsall, Delport and, even, Mercier would have added grit, guile and class to Friday’s rabble. They are missed. Without players of that quality the club is heading ever downwards. I would also suggest that a coach with the wisdom and nous of Nigel Melville is equally as missed. The taciturn and over-pragmatic Ryan proved a barely adequate replacement for Melville, while all I hear from Brian Redpath are clichés and manager-speak. I don’t detect a hint of vision or strategy or inspiration beyond the obvious. Part of me would like some of the club’s highest earning players to depart at the end of the season and the resulting surplus spent on a visionary coach with a hard-nosed back-up staff who can construct a squad of hungry, zestful and talented youngsters underpinned by an experienced backbone of canny and proven performers. As things stand too many of our athletes are below par and straining to attain satisfactory status.