England’s green and pleasant land hasn’t been particularly green this week, to the point where I’m starting to tire of it.
I’ve concluded the novelty of deep snow and all that goes with it (social media crammed full of random folk doing snow angels mainly) has a maximum shelf life of maybe 48 hours. Anything longer than that just gets on my pip. It’s probably an age thing.
Unlike those countries who have to deal with snow and ice on a regular basis and who breeze through heavy snowfall as if it’s a light shower, we simply can’t cope. Our whole infrastructure grinds to a halt. And that, courtesy of Friday’s presser at Colney, is something that’s not been lost on Daniel Farke.
If you haven’t seen or heard it, it’s a must. It’s here.
When asked about the travails of his staff getting to Colney through the snow his opening line includes, ‘it’s funny…’ as he then continues to name and shame a few who saw snowfall as a prelude to a day off. He didn’t really find it funny.
I suspect not for the first time, the differing mentality between his compatriots and the British players (and staff) in the squad was laid bare. The German players arrived as per. Most of the rest – with special mentions for Marley Watkins, Nelson Oliveira and Jamal Lewis – struggled. A training session that was meant to start at 9:30 was re-scheduled for 1 pm. Still it was touch and go for some.
Fair play to the head coach for making light of it, at least in public, but there was something just a tiny little bit uncomfortable about it – for me anyway.
A win against Forest on Tuesday and it’ll all be forgotten though. I’m that fickle.
In the same way the club takes pride in producing young players, we at MFW take pride in offering our platform to young people with a penchant for writing; Connor Southwell, Emma James, Jack Goddard and Daniel Defalco the latest crop to come off the production line.
Well, this week Jack Holmes – a young man who until now had made his name with his ability to produce stunning graphics – took his MFW bow. It was a fine debut piece in which he questioned whether City supporters have unrealistic expectations of their football club.
It provoked a fascinating debate and some terrific responses, not least from our own Andy Head (comment 19):
Whereas it’s totally counter-productive to expect promotion every season and squawk when it doesn’t happen, I also think there’s some value in the fans having a reasonably high expectation level.
My own take on it is along similar lines. Without the desire to do better, to improve and to squeeze every last drop out of the resources we have available, why bother in the first place.
We clearly have a handbrake being applied at the moment through our own self-imposed take on austerity but within those constraints there clearly remains a belief that by doing things well and, out of necessity, better than others, we can break out of the Championship doldrums in which many clubs of a similar ilk find themselves.
Stuart Webber’s vision – one that is clearly supported by Steve Stone from the business angle – is both laudable and uplifting. In his mind, he has a very clear vision and plan around how this will work, and how we can do a ‘Huddersfield’. In his mind, whatever the limitations, he thinks promotion is achievable. And so if he thinks it…
Where it tends to go awry is when, along that path – which is virtually guaranteed to be rocky and trying at times – any downturn is deemed by the fans to be terminal. We’re all guilty of it to differing degrees. Two defeats on the bounce and we’re approaching crisis time. Two wins and we’re on the verge of something.
Equally, the resources at your disposal can, and should, impact on expectation and while the stats prove that to bounce back to the Premier League at either the first or second attempt is no given, the multi-millions made available through parachute payments make it infinitely more achievable. Or at least they should do.
That City made a right fist of it by spending said multi-millions anything but wisely has been done to death but we’re far from alone and therefore, by that same score, to achieve the ultimate goal doesn’t rely solely on billions and trillions. But it does need the books to be balanced.
This is the part where Webber’s plan starts to creak a little. Minus parachute payments or owners who can plug the financial black hole that almost inevitably appears when Premier League ambition collides with Championship revenue, the sale of talent becomes the only way. It’s why James Maddison will depart in the summer.
The plan, therefore, relies on a steady stream of saleable assets, either via the academy or through buying raw talent and selling further down the line for a profit. Both can be done but both rely on elements of luck. Nothing is guaranteed. The element of risk is very real and a little scary.
So, returning to Jack’s theme of realistic expectations, mine are that a club the size of ours has every right to aim for the Promised Land (even though it’s not much fun when you get there), and without that ambition what’s the point. But against the backdrop of pending austerity, underpinned by the sea change in our funding, to do so needs us to once again punch above our weight.
As of this May, Big Mick can stand down his campaign for the financial alignment of our two clubs. In some ways, Marcus Evans’ willingness to annually plug their ever-expanding black hole offers them a back-stop that we ourselves don’t have [not that I’d swap their plan for ours before anyone thinks I’m suggesting otherwise].
Much depends on what occurs in the corridors of Colney over the summer. Only when that transfer window closes can we then realistically re-align our expectations going forward. And for now, my expectations only extend as far as beating Nottingham Forest on Tuesday evening.