Monday, May 16, 2011

Restless Feet

Bugger me. It was a bit of a let down yesterday. Many Blues fans are in despair over it, which shows a bit of a lack of historical perspective. I was really, really pissed off yesterday and the more I drank the more pissed off I got, which, if nothing else, shows that alcohol is never the answer. I’m not so pissed off today, I have come to accept that, well, it’s the fucking Blues innit? 
Some people are saying that this relegation (many have already resigned themselves to it) has taken them completely by surprise and that is what is so upsetting, but it hasn’t taken me by surprise. Even before we started losing with alarming regularity, I was saying that we are drawing too may home games, and I recalled the season that Saunders took us down, when we drew game after game after game and slipped into the bottom 3 on the very last day of the season. Draws and goal difference did for us.
Since our record breaking run ended last season, we have been shit, and supporting Blues has been a pretty miserable experience: not because of the results, but because of the style of play. Fuck me, I support the Blues, I don’t expect glory, but I do expect us to show some spirit. I accept that at the moment panache is too much to expect, but it is the lack of this very quality that has been pissing me off.
There are those who are bemoaning the lack of fight and bite we showed yesterday and some are complaining that the players lacked courage. It’s true, we seemed utterly bewildered by events yesterday, right from the kick off and had no idea how to respond, and we certainly didn’t get snarlingly into Fulham faces, but I think we have lacked courage all season. Not courage in the sense of aggressive harrying and forceful tackling, but courage in the sense of being brave with the ball, and being brave in making attacking runs into the opposition half. We are not brave enough to take a chance, and to get on the front foot and anticipate half chances. 
It was evident yesterday that when we had the ball, we had no idea what to do with it. Tiki taki it was not. We constantly passed the ball sideways, or backwards or straight into an opposition midriff. We really needed to get at them, but we didn’t know how, and this has to be a legacy of our style of play, and the consequence of playing percentage football, looking to win free kicks, corners and throw ins. Jerome was out, so the usual tactic of booting it into the channels, in the hope that his muscular presence will gain us a set piece opportunity, wasn’t available, and we were demonstrably bereft of alternative ideas.
Some people are blaming the strikers, with the theme being that Phillips is too old and Derbyshire too shit, which is a bit unkind. Maybe their runs were not intelligent enough, maybe they didn’t have the wit to find space, but, maybe, the midfield just were not up to the job of adapting their style, and offering either enough guile or support to the front two. A front two who have barely started a game all season, a front two who we couldn’t really expect to be match sharp, or attuned to the nuances of each others play, or the play of the midfield.
We aren’t where we are because the cup run took it out of us, or because Derbyshire and Phillips found themselves in the team yesterday, or because of injuries, or because of bad luck, or because other teams have put together unlikely runs of results. We are where we are because, for at least a season and a half, we have been poor. We have not created enough chances; and, when we have taken a lead, we have lost all ambition and sat back and invited teams to find a way around or through us, which, with depressing predictability, they have usually managed to do. I don’t say we have played with fear, because at times we have been indomitable, but I do say that we have played without courage.
So it all comes down to the final game next week. Football is perverse enough, and Blues are certainly perverse enough for the outcome to be far from certain. I wouldn’t put it past Blues to win, and still get relegated, and I would not be at all surprised if we lost and still managed to stay up. If we do manage to survive, I hope the euphoria of an unlikely escape doesn’t blind either fans or staff to our deficiencies. We need a complete change of approach. Some fans will tolerate boring draws and narrow victories if it means premiership survival, but our style is not only unedifying, it is fucking undignified, and many people won’t be prepared to keep forking out to watch it. 

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