A health warning first of all: the following 800+ words are really going to irritate some.
If you’re one of the increasing number who think Daniel Farke’s P45 should be there waiting for him at Colney this morning, or that Mo Leitner should be on the next plane back to Germany, then I’m about to really get on your nerves (even more than I normally do).
That’s not to say I consider everything just peachy right now, because it clearly isn’t.
One point from a possible nine is rotten whichever way you spin it and however full or empty your glass is, and the longer we await that first win, clearly the greater is the pressure that’s building on Farke. He’ll not need reminding.
There are clearly issues at both ends of the pitch that need addressing and if we’re heading into October with easy chances being missed at one end and defensive sloppiness costing us at the other then it really will be time to panic. But from what I’ve seen so far this season, among the missed chances and defensive howlers, there have been some notable improvements made to the way we attack teams.
If we’re to use the barometer of three league games, then it’s obviously fair to say those improvements have produced the meagrest of results, but since when have we used 270 minutes of football as the basis for drastic change?
It’s a phrase I get hammered for using but there’s no better way of putting it – the margins at this level of football ARE fine. So many ifs and buts.
If Mo Leitner had buried that chance in the three-on-one…
If Teemu Pukki hadn’t side-footed over the bar from four yards out…
If Ben Marshall had nodded that late diagonal out for a corner…
Right now City are coming out on the wrong side of all the ifs; everything that can go wrong is going wrong, and that in itself has to change. But you do make your own luck and now is most certainly not the time for the players to feel the world is against them and to start feeling sorry for themselves.
Now is the time for sleeves to be (metaphorically) rolled up and for the plans that get discussed at great length at Colney to start being executed – with no cocks ups and no errors.
Easier said than done of course, and right there is the distinction between success and failure, but I’m something of a rarity in that I do still believe the squad that has been assembled to Stuart Webber and Farke has more than enough in its locker to be competitive in this division.
I’ve witnessed with my own eyes the tangible improvements in City as an attacking force, and it’d take the most cynical of cynics to not see how the Hernandez, Pukki, Rhodes triumvirate appear capable of conjuring up goalscoring opportunities.
We agonised over how we would cope without the moments of magic provided by James Maddison and Josh Murphy – which, let’s face it, dug us out of holes aplenty last season – but a change in approach, less reliance on individual brilliance and some astute signings in attacking areas look to have gone some way to alleviate that fear.
That all of this has yet to yield points on the board is down to the fact we’re shipping goals at the other end – something that, of course, has to change – but systematically I’m not sure there is too much wrong with what is happening out there right now. It’s mainly down, in my view, to poor execution.
But, I do have a concern – one that keeps niggling away as we await that first win – and it’s that the lack of points on the board will eventually eat away at confidence and belief. That, eventually the good things that are happening will become less frequent as players think and ponder rather than do; the classic by-product of a poor run of results.
Then I would start to worry, and the brown stuff would start hovering into view.
All of which makes Wednesday’s tricking looking game with Alex Neil’s Preston the very epitome of squeaky bum time. Those who sit near me in the River End – you have been warned!
Naturally, those for whom the glass was already half empty will have been emboldened by Sheffield Utd’s late winner but after just three games it’s too soon to be reaching for the pitchforks. That doesn’t mean anyone is happy, or anyone thinks one point from a possible nine is anything like acceptable, but to call for Farke’s head after 270 minutes of football is (in my view) just a little bit daft.
If we’re going to get angry about anything, let’s make about the way Chris Wilder continues to conduct himself when he has anything yellow or green in his sights, and how his actions inspire the Blades’ masses to follow his grubby, ruddy-faced lead.
I’ll leave the final word to one of MFW’s young guns, who showed maturity beyond his years with this tweet after yesterday’s final whistle:
Understand fans complaining but the reality is – from someone who’s been to all three games so far – we’ve created enough chances to have 9 points from 3 rather than 1. Simply a matter of being more clinical. Wednesday night important but no need for major concern yet
— Will Jennings (@WilliamThomasJ) August 18, 2018
Well said Will – made me proud 🙂