When we were little more than relegation fodder the football may have been dire but matches were rarely dull. The abject awfulness of some of our players was enough to keep many of us amused for hours – and even if there wasn’t much to watch on the pitch, the terraces provided their own type of theatre along with chants that were both original and amusing , this and the intense feeling of belonging would keep you coming every week.
And invariably, if you weren’t one of the ones that found it funny – you were probably one of the one’s that got angry – screaming and shouting at the team and manager, exorcising all you midweek demons at the hapless eleven on the pitch. Either way, football inspired real emotion one way or the other.
The same cannot be said at the moment. For 80 minutes last Sunday I watched the most insipid, uninspired, unenergetic football that I have ever had the misfortune to be present at. The crowd too seemed hypnotised into a silent stupor by the “game” (I use that word in its loosest terms) that unfolded before it.
Throughout my life as a football fan, I of course have encountered the odd dull game, but this now seems to be becoming the “style” in which we actually play and I’m not sure how much longer I can take it. Portsmouth were very very poor – their play was laboured and they had zero creativity – but instead of running at them and using our superior skill and fitness to win this game in the first half and so give our youngsters a run out for the second, we instead were as pedestrian and boring as the opposition and did little to raise the pulses of those playing or those of us in the crowd.
I know we won four nil and it was comfortable but I am going out of my mind watching such banal and listless rubbish. I found myself actually wanting AVB to make one of his ridiculous substitutions – Josh McEachran for Cech perhaps, to liven things up a bit. And I don’t want to be lectured on transition as as far as I can see we still have highly rated, top-calibre internationals playing for us who should be able to show a little inventiveness and a swift turn of heel in the face of a second rate team such as Portsmouth.
Also, transition would suggest some new players and as far as I can tell we have only seriously been linked with Cahill who is going to make little difference to the way we play as I see it.
At the end of the day, football is entertainment and what we are currently being served up cannot be described as such whichever way you look at it. I assume that we will hear the thunderous thump of our season ticket renewals hitting our door mats next month (ridiculously early as usual) and one has to wonder how many will weigh up the extortionate sums being demanded against the actual feel good factor one gets at the Bridge these days…..
One thing that did bring a smile to the faces of many in the local watering hole after the match was the FA Cup draw. The possibility of QPR, days before the court case – the injustice still sizzling from the last match, the opportunity to put the little oiks back in their place – i.e. under our boot – it’s all too delicious for words. My only regret is that the hateful gremlin Warnock won’t be around to feel the strength of the spanking that we are going to deliver and be rest assured – nothing else will do.
If the players really want to p*ss off the supporters then they should continue in their current vein against this lot. We will expect to see every weapon in our armoury deployed against them. Winning will simply not be sufficient – we want them crushed, humiliated, humbled – understood? QPR is a boil on the arse of humanity that needs to be lanced and the puss that ensues to be sent back to whence it came.
Now, I don’t think I could have made myself any clearer than that. But to matters at hand – Sunderland and another manager that winds me up but, as much as I hate it, I have to admit that perhaps AVB could learn a thing or two from O’Neill’s man-management skills. Although I don’t subscribe to the second coming status he is often awarded by the press, he obviously does have a skill in imparting confidence and belief into previously failing teams. That said, Sunderland are still a group of players one would envisage within the bottom half of the table come May and as such should be comfortably put to the sword – but then Villa were similarly rated by me and we all know what happened there.
As much as I think that the manager has his short-comings, the team are doing themselves no favours by these continuously lethargic performances. We are over half way through the season now and whether they want to stay or go, they need to show more of what they are capable of to succeed with Chelsea or secure that move they are after. Stoic mediocrity will no longer be acceptable – time for all to put a shift in and re-establish our rightful position within the league and go some way to re-establishing the air of invincibility which has been slowly eroded since we won the double. Come on Chelsea