Saturday was quite a day to be a supporter of the Sky Blues. You’ve probably noticed the photos above. My attempt to document it visually soon fell flat as my phone ran out of battery, but I was still able to capture a few images, then make them look pointlessly iconic using Instagram.
As I explained prior to the game, I chose not to join the protest. Instead, I went to the match, saw the goal, saw us lose, and came away pretty annoyed that we allowed the game to peter out.
I wandered past those protesting on my way in though, and was certainly hit by the feeling of solidarity as I saw the banners and supporters clambering around the Jimmy Hill statue. I didn’t hang around too long though, I’m afraid. Given my inherent aversion to chants that die a death after one round and make me cringe, I had to shuffle following one-too-many single line renditions of “we want Sisu out”. It’s a medical condition, honest.
I kid, of course. Yes, protests have always been a smidge pantomime for my liking, but the purpose, feeling and message came across loud and clear. Well done to you who stuck to your guns and hung around for the 15 minutes and beyond. I haven’t got it in me to go all the way to the Ricoh then risk missing a goal – it’s a seldom seen event as it is. I’ve only once been to the loo during the game for this very reason, and even that was during a Gunnarsson haircut drama so I had plenty of time.
Anyway, I’ve said it already, but I just really love the football and that’s why I didn’t get involved. It’d be great to know what it was like outside the stadium when the goal went in though? Was there a mass rush to the turnstiles? You don’t really notice a swelling of people in a crowd of 9000.
Now, if the next piece of supporter solidarity actually involves going to the game, I’m all over it. It seems the Save our City crew are planning for the Reading game at the Madejski (that’s Mad-Day-Skee, not Madge-Esk-Skee) with the idea to get a giant following down there. That’s certainly more my style – I want to be cheering the lads on. I can show my disdain for those in charge the rest of the week.
Notes from the match
It’s a little late to go through the game in great detail, but a few observations:
- Good first half, all things considered. It’s a shame you guys outside weren’t able to see it, because we deserved the lead and were stroking the ball around nicely. There was a definite confidence about us, and we were pressing extremely high up the pitch, forcing them (and especially their keeper) into long balls, which they were desperate to avoid. Relentless pressing is the In thing in football at the moment. Barcelona are the masters obviously, combining intense harrying of the opposition with blistering pace in attack. The pretenders to the crown are Tottenham, with Scott Parker leading the show. Now, I’m not saying we have the ability, discipline or fitness to implement anything like that level of pressure for 90 minutes. But it’s something we should certainly look to emulate.
- McSheffrey’s finish was one of real class, and for him to be able to get over that ball and not balloon it out of the stadium is another indication that he might just be coming into a little bit of form.
- With Jutkiewicz missing, we were left with Royston O’Donovan as the muscle up front. Poor Roy isn’t really up to it, but he works immensely hard, and the man understands tactics. He messed up his chances, but his work-rate and commitment to occupying the Southampton line was admirable, and actually provided an effective foil for McSheffrey. Unfortunately, he could only last an hour, and the introduction of young Shaun Jeffers was the turning point as we lost that understanding up front. He wasn’t able to get his back in and hold the ball, and his positioning was wayward, leaving very little options for our midfield to work off. I’m not going to criticise either of these players though, as Thorn hasn’t got any other options at the moment. They gave it a shot.
- Gael is suffering a crisis in confidence at the moment. He seems a little confused and appears to be juggling instructions from all angles while he’s on the pitch. He had one of those nightmare first halves, but improved in the second before he was replaced. Another example of a player who could do with a bit of time out, but we simply don’t have the options, so he’s going to have to push through. It’s been a tough intro to life in the first team for him, but I’ve no doubt he’ll come good eventually. That might not be as quick as we’d like with Steve Harrison as his coach, mind.
- Having previously been touted as the ‘complete player’ by McSheffrey, Richard Keogh made more mistakes in this match than he has made in the entire season so far. Very unlike him, but I think we can afford him one game.
- And finally, the 1987 replica kit looked particularly attractive, even if it did make Conor Thomas look like a completely different human being.
So that was my take on Protest Saturday. It’s never great being knocked out of the FA Cup so early, but there’s no time for moping, and this season more than ever, it really doesn’t concern me. My only focus is on our upcoming trip to the annoyingly decent Derby County, which we could desperately do with winning. The protest was an impressive show of unity, which I hope we can now take inside Pride Park this weekend and do what we do best: all sing together.
Back to it.