I guess I’m the only one who’s really looking forward to tomorrow’s game. Admittedly this has less to do with a keen sense of anticipation of a barnstorming triumph to relaunch a truly great escape than a desperate lack of football over the past month. A week in Lyon ruled out any thoughts of Barnsley or Swansea (well, just do a simple comparison of the delights on offer), while a regular work-related trip to Amsterdam (extended this time to allow a weekend for a proper sampling of the specialities the city offers) kept me away from the Doncaster game. Sounds like good planning, other than the dubious pleasures of negotiating getting to Heathrow and Gatwick for flights at ungodly hours of the morning.
Being a stingy git at the best of times, my plans for the former involved a combination of night bus and first tubes. Any joy at arriving at security at Terminal 5 at 07.15 for an 07.45 flight to Lyon was, however, short-lived as I was promptly informed that they apply timings strictly and I’d missed the flight. Wouldn’t have minded that much except it meant doing it all again the next morning, only earlier. And as for flying Easyjet to Amsterdam at 06.30 on a Saturday morning, there is the delight of mixing with assorted stag/hen weekend parties intent on getting off their heads asap. Oh, the joys of modern travel.
I had departed for France with a spring in the step, on the back of the win against Plymouth and safe in the knowledge that those immediately above us had tough games coming up. In a previous post I’d had a bash at points predictions in light of the poor form of Southampton, Plymouth and Forest. Didn’t take long for those thoughts to go out of the window. How the hell did Plymouth win away at Wolves and then beat Watford at home, Forest win away at Reading and then at home against Preston, Southampton run off three wins on the trot, and Norwich take the spoils away at QPR? We’ve all seen the table, I just haven’t had (yet) to confront the reality of it all.
From friends comments and blog postings it’s clear we can have no complaints about losing to Doncaster (although the howls of delight in an Amsterdam bar at news of the equaliser were supposed to be followed up by a last-minute winner, not killed off moments later). We all know it’s just about all up. There will be plenty of time for further recriminations in the weeks ahead. Tomorrow I’m just going to treat as an enjoyable occasion – kicked off with some decent red wine - and hopefully it will be a good game. Perhaps most of all – and this may be a vain hope – I don’t want to see players hanging their heads or hear a crowd get on their backs. I’d rather see signs that they relish a contest and enjoy doing what they are paid for.
As for the team, I just don’t know. It’s clear we should be looking to revert to 4-4-2 in some way, shape or form. I’ve seen the calls for leaving out all the loan players and starting to plan for the next campaign, but Parkinson really can’t do this until our fate is truly sealed (and what advantage would there be in leaving out Ward to play Holland in central defence?). Dickson has to be partnered by someone, whether it be Kandol, Burton or even Fleetwood. Perish the thought it might actually be Todorov (he did play for most of the midweek reserves game). The prospective return of Zhi just makes me a little sad for what might have been. Reading The Mercury and Ambrose’s talk of disappointment at not having made much of a contribution this season just left me thinking about how little we have had – mostly because of injuries its true - from him, Zhi, Todorov, Racon and even Weaver (which is not to say anything bad about Elliot).
It’s not true that I’ve been completely starved of football of late as I did manage to take in Lyon Duchere versus Saint-Etienne B. Trouble was it proved not to be the goal-fest that I had hoped for. Duchere, despite having won the away fixture earlier in the season, were fortunate to come away with a 0-0 draw (I’ve accumulated two-and-a-half games watching La Duch and I’ve yet to see them score). They look set to play out the remainder of the season in mid-table comfort. Ah, back to a familiar theme of success, failure and expectations. Sod it, I’m getting depressed again. Enough. Bring it on. Whatever the outcome.