- Good start to the season.
- Throwing away leads left, right and centre.
- Completely unable to come back from behind.
- Stupidly long winless streaks.
- Mostly unimaginative football.
- Closer to relegation than the play-offs.
I’m not describing this season. These are things we were saying this time last year, and the year before that. It just doesn’t change, I’m afraid.
The difference in the previous two seasons however, was that at this point we were about to have our obligatory good February, and had a team of players that was starting to pick itself.
Barring a turn around of Newcastle-Arsenal proportions, we’re nowhere near that right now – that’s the unfortunate truth. Can anyone pick our best eleven at the moment? I bloody well can’t. No one is playing well enough.
I feel like a bit of an idiot having spent so much energy arguing that we were improving, and how our football was loads better after the Crystal Palace and Sheff Utd games. Whilst true of those performances, I have to hold my hands up and say that I was hasty in assuming things were going to change. I can only put it down to desperation.
Unfortunately, too many of our players are unable to play to the same level each game. That’s something you see the lower down the leagues you go. Players like Richard Keogh, Carl Baker, Clive Platt are all capable of having good games, we know that. The problem we have is that this standard of player can only manage that for 2 or 3 games in a row before the performance level drops. When you’re in a team that’s lacking confidence, that becomes even less.
It must be difficult to manage that level of consistency, not knowing quite how the players in your team are going to perform. But as people like Ian Holloway have shown, whilst tricky to cultivate it with “lower league” players, the key point is that it can be done.
We never seem to be able to get that from our players though. We’re always frustratingly erratic. Do we blame the personnel, the manager for buying them, or could it be something else?
One thing that rarely gets questioned is the coaching set up, and those involved in that. I don’t want to be seen to be clutching at straws or changing the focus of criticism for the sake of it, but I’d like to see what Steve Harrison and the coaching team are actually measured on. People are keen to attribute Chelsea’s loss of form to Ray Wilkins leaving, so if a coach can have such an effect, surely when things aren’t working they should face the flack too?
Something to think about, I guess. Harrison especially was a major part of Coleman’s backroom staff, which created the disaster of a team we saw last year. He’s still around, coaching our players, developing a team that currently struggles to defend, attack, pass or tackle.
Something needs to change for us to render the players we have (who we’ve seen have good games, so surely have it in them) into a good team. We’re not privy to the coaching methods employed, but whatever they are, they ain’t working.