A disgrace, you say?
Noun: Loss of reputation or respect, esp. as the result of a dishonorable action.
Of course, everything’s a disgrace.
Loathed as I am to draw comparisons with the opportunistic and short-termist tendencies of our modern day culture, but if you’re looking for more nailed-on definition of that word, you need look no further than the performances of Coventry City Football Club. (Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you?).
Loss of reputation or respect? That’s absolutely guaranteed. The players may not recognise it, but us lot in the stands – we’ll vouch for that.
I don’t want to cover old ground, but let’s sum up our decline quickly. In the space of ten years we went from a credible (albeit often under-recognised) Premiership outfit, to a lowly and forgotten Championship side. That ten year period was very difficult to swallow, as there was barely a glint of a concerted effort to resurrect the team.
Then it really went tits up. We’ve fallen into the abyss. Lower than any of us ever felt we could fall. And it feels like we just keep on falling.
Of course, with our desperation for success comes delusions of revival, and we’ve been the victims of many false dawns; a mini-flurry of performances here-and-there to trick us into believing that a reprise may not be far away.
But no sooner do we start to believe, than we’re halted. Again. Brakes slammed shut on any ascent we dare to make, and a fanbase left to contend with another dose of doom.
Yep, we still wait for the tide to turn. We hope. We dream that it’ll just take something, or someone, to sort our unsightly mess of a football team out. But success eludes us.
And what often feels most frustrating, is that by feeling and venting this anger at the lack of progress we’re making, you run a gauntlet of being typecast as negative and being told once again about the fundamental importance of being patient.
I assure you of one thing – I am not negative. I’m really not.
I’m positive about what I believe this club should be achieving this year. Of course it’s impossible to predict and I have my moments of misery, but I’m the person who at the beginning of the campaign stated a desire to win the league. Aim for the stars, shoot high, and show ambition that’ll set the standard for us to ride along. I didn’t play it safe. I didn’t claim another building year and hope secretly that by expecting the worst, they may surprise me (but also be content to be proven right if they did fail). I wanted success and was positive that this team should be confident about its prospects. It’d be so long without any, I tried to take the negatives out of being thrust back into this league.
However, with that level of positivity and desire, there also comes a finite level of dismay you’re willing to endure. After yet another league defeat, it feels like there’s no more waiting to be done. No more patience to be had. No more excuses to be made. Things cannot get any worse than this.
I don’t say that metaphorically by the way. I mean that literally – they CANNOT get any worse. This is the bottom as far as I’m concerned. Everyone at Coventry City must refuse to allow this slide to get any further (if only it was that simple).
I refuse to see us where we are. That’s right. I downright refuse to accept any more of this from City. I’ll close my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears and scream lalalalas to eternity if I have to.
Bad manager at the start or poor caretaker in the middle – there’s simply no excusing the current position in this league by this stage. It’s important that everyone acknowledges that. There is no logical reason why this almighty and plentiful group of players – many of them who believe they’re playing in a league below their capabilities – should be pulling the same stunt week after week.
They have the facilities, they have the wages, they have the standing, they have a respectable manager with methods they claim to be feeling the benefit from; they have everything that a player at a League One club could possibly wish for, and yet they’re still unable to perform to any sort of regular and trustworthy standard.
OK, so we have a new manager now (Robins is the name, looking like a dinnerlady is the game). I agree that it’s supposed to be an exciting time – one for anticipation and belief in the change he is bringing – and for all I know he’s going to be a bloody good boss for us.
But we have to be clear about one thing – we don’t have time to allow that anticipation to transcend into yet more deferral of result-getting. We surrendered that leeway as soon as we lost 5 or 6 in a row under Shaw.
This isn’t the start of the season any more. This is almost November in a League One “tour” that none of us wanted, and we’re stuck, gaffer-taped to the fucking relegation zone already.
We’d all love to be endlessly supportive and understanding, but seeing as we spent the opening six weeks of our season watching our team throw away game after game, there’s no way we can we accept a continuation of that pattern. No way. Not after that, and definitely not after last year.
Regardless of the division across fans about how “best” we can support the team, one thing I hope to Christ we refrain from doing is sitting back and delaying achievement, much like we were brainwashed into doing since relegation from the Premiership. It may have have been acceptable to float through life back then, going through the motions until our inherent lack of ambition as a club caught up with us. But those times have to end now.
This isn’t just a bad start to the season – this is fast becoming a bad season. Whether you like it or not, it’s time for the team to get a bloody grip and recognise that this position is wrong. Not just poor, but thoroughly wrong. It’s wrong that they continue to serve up the same level of disappointment week in, week out.
The bottom line; this league position, for this league, for this group of players, for this stage of the campaign, for this fucking mind-bending club of ours, is utterly disgraceful.
There can’t be sitting on the fence any more and hoping that because Robins is new and speaks a far better game than Thorn, that eventually he’ll turn this around. Yes, we all want that, but we have to be realistic here: we just don’t have time any more. Not unless we want another relegation battle on our hands. That deferral of judgement for this team must stop.
No matter what we think of these players, this squad has playing assets that many of the clubs in this league can only dream of enticing. Yet they’re they ones beating us.
Each game is precious, and the more we lose, the more we compound the losing mentality that we’ve been so desperately trying to eradicate just lately, in particular with the expulsion of much of last season’s influence from the team.
Of course, this change might happen over time, and we might become a decent club eventually. But when you’re slumped in the relegation zone of yet another league, is “eventually” a viable option? I don’t think it is. It’s the “eventually” attitude that has landed us where we are today.
In our desperation over the years, we (and by we, I suppose I mean “I”) have hyper-analysed our plight and racked my brains to identify patterns, influences, commonalities – anything that might go some way to understanding why we are constitutionally incapable of success.
But you know, there comes a time (and that time is when you’re in League One, with the wage bill and squad size we have) when you just feel like throwing all that proposed rationale and complexity out of the window. It’s not like any of the other clubs make such a big deal of turning their form around.
Sometimes you just want those who are responsible for the performance on the pitch – the players mainly- to perform to their maximum, cut out the languid and sloppy approach to matches, and fix the mess they have got us into.
That’s right. Stop messing around and just fix it, you bunch of breakdown-inducing dipsticks. Fix it right now.
This piece comes with the overwhelming caveat that, as with all my best work, I was cross when I wrote it. I don’t genuinely expect Mark Robins to fix all the problems overnight, although that shouldn’t detract from the idea that as a team, we must start to do win games, really quickly – new boss or no new boss.