Well that didn’t go to plan.
Last night was supposed to prove once and for all that, while we can’t win at home to save our lives, we have at least found a formula that will see us pick up more than our fair share of points on the road. Okay, so Bolton didn’t go to plan but that was just a rotten afternoon at the office and Forest away would placate the doubters and get us back on an even keel.
That was the plan that had been swilling around my otherwise empty head since 5pm on Saturday.
Unfortunately we all know what happens to the best made plans, especially those over which you have not even the slightest bit of influence. And those where Daryl Murphy is involved.
Not content with ruining Timm Klose for almost the entire 2016/17 season, Murphy has now thrown a untimely spanner in the works of Daniel Farke’s first Championship season. City’s head coach’s bruising may be metaphorical, as opposed to the lumps and bumps suffered by Klose during his Portman Road mauling, but one that potentially could be every bit as damaging.
While the level of performance was reportedly an improvement on Saturday’s 94 minutes of indifference against Barnsley, that City returned home pointless, and in doing so created only a couple of chances worthy of the description, should be sufficient to furrow the brows of even the most ardent of loyalists.
The eight game unbeaten run was great while it lasted – and I can’t recall too many complaining that the away wins in particular were “just narrow 1-0s” – but it was underpinned by a series of clean sheets that ultimately negated any concerns over the paucity of chances created at the other end. Now that the clean sheets have dried up we have a problem, reinforced by the fact we persist with this patient, methodical playing style that creates so few goalscoring opportunities.
A modicum of perspective is required however. In isolation a 1-0 defeat at the City Ground is not the end of the world, however disappointing. Forest may not be top six material right now but they’re a decent side who have now won as many Championship games as they have lost and with City being mid-table occupants defeat was always a possibility.
Where the angst and venom has come from is the fact that last night’s defeat makes it six games without a win and little sign of there being any tweaks in the system to make us more effective in front of goal. In fact it’s not even a question of flat-lining; goalscoring chances are currently like gold dust and are getting rarer by the game.
Unhelpful too was Daniel Farke’s post-match boast that last night’s was the ‘best away performance of the season’. We know what he meant – that the shape and passing was more in keeping with how he wants the side to play – but right now most of us would give anything for another scrappy 1-0 with UGLY stamped all over it. Aesthetics don’t win points. Artistic impression counts for zilch in the Championship.
The wording was careless – I’m sure he’ll accept that – and the timing was worse.
But we move on, we have to, and for now let’s not even contemplate the return for Alex Neil, Frankie McAvoy and Dean Kiely that everyone is anticipating. It’s not happened yet.