Today I feel bitter, depressed, cheated, angry, alienated, lethargic. It feels like the worst day for at least a year. But then I always feel this way when the clocks go forward. How can they just rob me of an hour’s kip? I know we get it back later in the year, but that never seems the same. I’m asleep for the extra hour, whereas today the deprivation is all too real. So it feels like a poor exchange. Maybe there’s another reason for feeling naff.
Having seen the highlights this morning the only things to add to last night’s garbled prose (the wine had flowed well before the game and was a requirement after it) would seem to be yes, McCarthy did switch off for their first goal; yes, he has to take most of the rap for Ebanks-Blake’s second (although like Gera’s volley for WBA would have been it was an effort worthy of winning a game); and how did Semedo get away with a yellow for his headbutt? McCarthy has been excellent since coming back into the team, but along with Sodje was exposed yesterday by the Wolves strikers. Semedo was superb early in the season in doing Holland’s job while the latter was injured. Since coming back he has looked less effective and uncomfortable in partnership with Holland. I thought we bought him as a centre-back.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not yet in the mood for reviews of the season, analysis of where it all went wrong (look at the goals against total for home games) and discussion of who should go and how we should structure the team for next year (under Pardew for sure). Clearly there can be no thought of buying in before we have disposed of a number of players. We do have too many, even ignoring the loan signings (for what it’s worth – and it’s a bit tough on Cook and Halford – I can’t see any point in playing anyone who won’t be with the club next season during the remaining games).
A few months back I decided to try to accentuate the positive through to the end of the season as I thought all supporters had a big role to play if we were going to get promoted. More recently it might seem to some, judging by some comments left, that I’m coming across as some sort of apologist for the club and burying my head in the sand as hopes of promotion steadily recede. Fact is if I thought there was any positive action I could think of to improve our promotion chances I would have put in on this blog, for what it’s worth. I have no connection with the club, I have never (to the best of my knowledge) met Pardew or any of the board. And the nearest I’ve been to meeting the players was going to one of those old open days when I was knee-high to the proverbial grasshopper.
In short, I haven’t got a clue why sometimes we manage to play so badly and appear sluggish and poorly motivated in some games, especially at the start, and have no idea what the real mood among the players is. I was one of those who thought when Reid left that we had worked out a good way to play without him (pace and movement, now a distant memory) and that it made sense to sell him. We’ll never know what would have happened if he had stayed; it couldn’t have turned out any worse as we ain’t going up. So in the words of Graham Parker, don’t ask me questions ‘cos there ain’t no answer in me.
However, I’m not going to make any apology for the opinion that the crowd has a positive role to play when things are not going well – and that collectively we’ve not come up to scratch – and that booing the team during the game is totally counter-productive. I’ve never seen our team, indeed any team, play better as a result. We were much improved in the second half yesterday, helped by Zheng replacing Ambrose and presumably some choice words from Pardew.
I was in the East Stand yesterday. The guy I was sat next to started shouting attempts at sarcasm/cynicism after maybe three minutes of the game. Maybe he didn’t like the line-up (personally I think that in the second half, when the overall play was better, Iwelumo and Lita looked as good a combination as we have, which admittedly is tough on Varney). The boorish and loud observations continued. For some reason this person clearly thought he was saying something that wasn’t blatantly obvious to everyone: namely we weren’t playing well. So when we equalised I started asking those around me why the booing had suddenly stopped. There followed a lively and extended exchange with the guy, which I will attempt to paraphrase.
‘I’m entitled to my opinion’. ‘Not really, your opinion is dull and you’re not helping, so keep it to yourself’ (repeat exchange numerous times). ‘Do you think this is good enough?’ ‘No, obviously it isn’t, but what do you suggest to make it better other than booing?’ (repeat ad infinitum). There followed some accusations and observations. Had I been bussed in from Kent? (well, Blackheath actually). He informed me he had been a supporter for 10 years. Think I can claim a few more than that, not that it matters.
To be fair to the guy at no stage did the very noisy exchange threaten to turn violent. When the dust had settled I tried talking to him a couple of times. But he was having none of it. What followed was truly remarkable. He spent the remainder of the game saying nothing, arms folded, looking miserable. He didn’t even react when we equalised in the last minute, just sat and sulked. Seemingly deprived of the ability to whine there was no purpose left. Presumably he felt vindicated by Wolves’ winner. At least he must have gone home happy.
I really don’t want to slag off a long-standing supporter. We need all we can get and I’m sure he has a different take on the matter. I just simply cannot comprehend why some people want to wallow in failure or to think that complaining is somehow enough, some way perhaps of avoiding any sense of association (and I still don’t know what this guy considered to be good enough, presumably a win is good, a defeat is bad). Personally I’m just not interested in coming away from a game having been ‘proved right’ and we’ve lost (I really do prefer being proved completely wrong and we’ve won). Whether we like it or not the team put out on the pitch is the one that the manager thinks is best equipped to win the game. And our comments aren’t going to change anything, especially when they only state the bleedin’ obvious.
So can someone please point out any flaw in the following rationale: I want to leave the game feeling happy (we do after all pay money to attend); I feel happy if we win (occasionally if it’s a draw, never if it’s a defeat); cheering the team in whatever circumstances, during the game, tends to help them play better while booing them tends to make it worse; the team has a better chance of winning if it plays well. This isn’t being an apologist or ignoring certain facts (most obviously that the season is turning out to be a massive disappointment and that there’s a great deal to be done if we are to mount a challenge next season).For those who say that ‘something must be done’ can we please have some suggestions for positive action (not including changing the manager).