It was bound to happen eventually. Having lucked our way out of a few hammerings this season, it’s only fitting that Bristol City (our favourite Ricoh guests) happily obliged where others haven’t.
A lack of intensity and purpose was apparent from the start. Passing was as ever, a massive struggle, and the tentative nature of our play made for a really uncomfortable time watching.
3-0 at half-time killed us. Defensively we were a shambles, and our failings are becoming more and more apparent. Gaping holes throughout, with Richard Wood trying his best to install some order. Stephen O’Halloran has been an absolute effing disgrace so far I’m afraid, and if I see Nathan Cameron smash the ball aimlessly then look around at his teammates with arms outstretched one more time, I’m going to go down there and smash the ball at him. What’s happened to the composed player we saw open the season for us?
It’s disheartening going behind as a City fan, as you’re left with the knowledge that the chances of us coming back are slim. So even when Jukey (who was head and shoulders above the rest) made it 3-1, there was always that niggling feeling that you’re living in cloud-cuckoo land if you think we’re going to do a Newcastle. I don’t think I’ve ever celebrated a goal less.
We were well and truly spanked, but the sending off of Marlon King was pointless, and it was this moment that raised a few questions in my mind about his contribution to the cause..
The Marlon King factor
It’s been a touchy one ever since the possibility of Marlene joining was first mooted. My view has in the main been that now he’s here, we have to support him, but he has to go further than most to justify the reputational hit we’ve taken by bringing him in.
I’m starting to get the feeling that he’s not worth the grief. I’m not an idiot; I can see his individual quality, but am more concerned about the wider implications his presence is having.
Have we actually benefited from Marlon King being at the club?
I think it’s fair to say he’s a marked man. Opposition fans, players and especially the officials. No matter how much anyone tries to deny it, he’s clearly got temper issues. If he’s not risking things with kicks and flailing arms against other players, he’s blasting his own teammates over nothing (some strops so prolonged, they make Clinton Morrison look like Gandhi).
This all means he has to be extra careful and responsible. He’s not going to receive any benefit of the doubt, so we’re reliant on him showing self-control and focusing all his energy on doing a positive job for the team.
I don’t know a single person who saw what happened on Saturday. But the fact that he got involved in any altercation means he let us down, and that alone is unacceptable.
This is where things get a bit confusing for me. On the face of it, he’s shown us that he hasn’t lost any of the quality of a premiership striker. He’s scored a few goals recently, and his first touch puts others in our team to shame.
But is there such a thing as a good player whose presence causes more harm than good? I’m still mulling this one over, but there’s an argument to say our team copes far better when he’s not on the pitch.
The stats try their best to qualify this. This season, we’ve lost 61% of our games when King has been on the pitch. Compare that to just 28% (4 games) when he’s not been around, and you start to think there might be a relationship there somewhere. Individually, he’s doing okay, but it just doesn’t seem to be benefitting us. Our best form of 2011 came in the first week when Freddy and Jutkiewicz were playing together. You know, the FA cup and Sheffield Utd games when we actually played some nice stuff.
That partnership was soon broken up when King came back into the team, and the performances and results have taken another turn for the worse. It’s a team game, so it’s worth pondering the notion that sometimes, just maybe, certain individuals don’t mix well into the team dynamic.
The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts, and all that.
Of course the opposing argument is that he’s doing his job and maybe our players should get a grip and learn to handle someone in the same team who puts pressure on them to perform.
But either way, if you’re one for stats, the ones below might make you wonder.
Coventry City 2010/11