Not the end of the world

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By Andrew Baxter

Looking at some of the comments on Twitter, and on the Telegraph and Argus website, I think a certain (minority, I must add) section of the Valley Parade support does need to put Sunday’s disappointing performance into context.

Now while I was unable to watch the game on Sunday (I’m currently doing a degree in Stirling, some 230 miles away from Valley Parade), I have been reliably informed that it was a very poor game in general. Sky Sports News described it as “feisty”. I can imagine several stronger words were used by the 14,000 plus there on Sunday. Without spending the rest of this piece ranting at Darren Drysdale, I can only summarise that his performance was nothing short of diabolical.

But that doesn’t hide the fact that we lost. Nevertheless, it was our second defeat in 11 games, our first home loss, and our first defeat in all competitions for six weeks.

So let’s put this game into perspective. We lost to a Tranmere side that came to Valley Parade with a plan, and the plan worked. Fair play to them. But this doesn’t mean that City’s squad is poor, or that the team are suddenly no longer play off quality. We know what this squad can do. Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa prove that this squad can, on their day, beat anyone and everyone. It would be ridiculous to suggest that City should be expected to go the rest of the season unbeaten, we will lose, but then again so will every other team.

It is during times like these, therefore, that we as supporters must support the manager. If, at the start of the season, someone had told me that City would be fourth in the league, four points above seventh place, and with impressive victories against the likes of Sheffield United and Brentford under our belts, I would have told them that they were being wildly optimistic, and perhaps a bit silly. But no, that is the case so far.

Remember, we lost on Sunday with only one recognised centre-back playing. In addition, we played without our leading goalscorer (and arguably best player), with Mark Yeates performing in a slightly unorthodox position in what was essentially a makeshift formation.

With Rory McArdle and Nahki Wells to return soon, and with the likes of Caleb Folan and Matthew Bates slowly picking up fitness and gelling with the rest of the squad, it is harsh to criticise the team for what has essentially been a very impressive start to the season. One defeat does not signal the end of the world, and I have full faith in Phil Parkinson and Steve Parkin to get the team to bounce back from a disappointing performance and quickly improve ahead of a tricky run of games.

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Categories: Opinion

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3 replies

  1. Well said, parkys boys will bounce back like they always do! Ctid

  2. Very well put, as you say we haven’t become a bad team overnight – just one who got dragged down to the level of a very bad team. My concern is that whilst we beat the so called better teams, ones that allow us to play football, we need to be able to overcome the thugs in the same manner.

    That always seems to have been Parky’s achilles heel and until he works out how to do it he will remain a good manager rather than a great one !

  3. Andrew .. One poor performance at home and a defeat by an equally poor team does not signal the end of civilization as we know it! There are however lessons to be learned from the performance. The primary one is that our strategy of having a small squad is easily upset by injuries and international call-ups and will be equally upset later in the season by injuries, loss of individual’s form and suspensions. Unfortunately we will not be immune from these footballing vagaries. It’s good to see another couple of experienced, quality additions to the squad in Folan and Bates and I trust they will both soon be challenging for a place in the starting XI. I trust that others will be recruited to provide cover in some critical areas.

    But the second more worrying issue which the Tranmere game highlighted once again was the continuing inability to break down teams who visit VP and ‘park the bus’ across VP’s 75metre wide pitch, also known as playing 5 in midfield. It’s been shown repeatedly over the past two seasons or so that we as a team struggle against any other team which plays a 5 man midfield. This is irrespective of the underlying quality of the visitors as Tranmere so easily demonstrated and with or without the help of the officials. Our somewhat fixed 4-4-2 tactics have become very predictable during the Parky regime and without underestimating the quality of the squad or its hardwork ethos or the ‘all for one’ mentality, our inability to beat teams who deploy a 5 man midfield will again cost us many points this season. In my opinion, an alternative and more flexible approach is the order of the day if we are to progress as a club.

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