5-0! We’ve only gone and bloody won 5-0 away from home.
Clearly this was unexpected. Not because we’re incapable of winning 5-0 against a team that’s bottom of our league, but due to our horrid under-performance so far this season, and the fact that we’re actually one of those bottom teams too.
I wasn’t there at the weekend. Regrettably, my resolve had been tested just a little too much, and the idea of trip all the way to Hartlepool to see us perform like a bunch of wallies was just a little too hard to contemplate.
Oh ye of little faith (I hear you scream at your sub-conscious image of what I look like). What a despicable swine I must be.
Well, I’m not really. I’m currently doing a load of pretend-genius head-scratching about the link between consistency and quality, and especially how that relates to player performance and what can be realistically expected of them. It’s something that’s extremely pertinent to our current situation, in so much as none of us can really predict what sort of display we’re going to see this season, on an almost half-by-half basis.
The same was even true on Saturday, by all accounts.
It was a first half of few big chances; or at least if there were, they were being had by our opposition, who were trying their darndest to show off to their new manager.
The tweets, texts and emails to Clive and Geoff at half-time were none too flattering, as the commendable souls who’d made the journey made sure those who weren’t present got a good idea of how poor we looked again.
Then something changed. Out of nowhere, we had the second half of our dreams.
Carl Baker – who I’ll come back to in a mo – grabbed the breakthrough goal with a low-but-soppy sort of shot from outside of the box. Soon after, an attempt from Moussa struck the hand of a ‘pool defender and we had a penalty. Senor Dependable David McGoldrick stepped up and stroked the ball home to give us a quick-fire 2-0 lead.
And it was at this point where we appeared to genuinely seize the advantage for once, rather than sit and hope we’d done enough. Too often over the last 18 months we’ve watched as our boys drop back and hope we can preserve a lead, whilst inadvertently offering on a plate the momentum for the opposition to get back into the game.
On Saturday, we chose everyone’s preferred option, and went for the kill ourselves.
As we saw against a tired Arlesey in the FA Cup, players like Baker and Moussa need to feel bigger and better than the opposition they’re up against. Once they receive that boost – be it through a goal or even something as trivial as beating a player – they seem to become more effective from that point onwards. They have egos like the rest of us, and revel in it being plumped up a bit.
Baker’s second was the killer, as he scooped the ball out of the sky, swivelled onto the dropping ball and slammed the ball home. This made it 3, and a team that’s bottom of the league simply doesn’t come back from that. We should know.
Moussa grabbed a seemingly inevitable goal as he found himself in the opposition area once again, and the rout was completed by the partially-forgotten Adam Barton, who fired home the fifth having only been on the pitch less than a minute.
Needless to say, Sky Blues fans everywhere went barmy. The stats bods went wild, and the 550+ souls who made the unenviable treck could make their journey home safe in the knowledge that we are once again on the cusp of making a breakthrough in this league.
OK, we all know we’re not quite there just yet. Where we’ve failed so far this season is in being able to generate any sort of meaningful momentum to pull away from trouble. A 5-0 away win makes it 3 wins out of 4, but we can’t dismiss the defeat to Scunthorpe which punctuated what could have been an otherwise noticeably good run. The absolute key now is to harness the confidence from this victory and put all our efforts into ensuring that we don’t let ourselves down against Colchester on Tuesday.
A word about Carl Baker
Once again, Carl Baker was talk of the town, with the inevitable mocking of all who’d dared criticise his Holiness.
Knowl made a good point on this week’s Nii Lamptey show as he questioned the value of actually focusing attention on Baker, given the far more pressing concerns following the Scunthorpe game. I think that’s right – in that there have been more important issues to worry about just lately, but I can also see why Baker is drawing a lot of attention.
For one – he’s the captain, ergo, he should be playing better. It comes with the territory. He’s been way below par for the most part, and this is always going to be a talking point amongst fans.
While there can be no denying that Baker earned some deserved plaudits for his performance and brace, this single game can’t be used as ammunition to discredit the analysis of him over the previous 20. Yes – he did well, but we can’t forget – he has done this many times before. Who can forget Robot Carl Baker from the Birmingham game – who then went missing for 10 games afterwards.
It’s short-sighted to believe that everything is fixed off the back of one game, and it’s especially wrong to denounce anyone who’s ever criticised him prior to this weekend. Many fans aren’t being deliberately negative towards him; they’re simply being analytical and trying to make it known when he, or anyone else for that matter, drops below the standard that is expected of them at this level.
Let’s all enjoy the result, and hope that this time we really have just seen a catalyst that kicks our season into life.