Stan has been here before, twice. In 1985, having celebrated winning the Milk Cup with a 2-1 win at home to Coventry on 30 March, Ken Brown's finest went into freefall…
Truth be told, things had been wobbly since Christmas. Although the cup heroics had served to offer a beautiful distraction, an ugly reality was looming on the horizon. A defeat at home to Ipswich was a stab to the heart amidst five straight losses, before a 3-2 win at home against Stoke seemed to settle things. We were mid-table and thinking of our first foray into Europe.
Norwich being Norwich, however, conspired to self-destruct in spectacular fashion. Three defeats and a home draw to Newcastle followed. No goals were scored throughout. A win at Chelsea then seemed to save us, leaving Coventry in need of three wins from three games to stay up at our expense.
They got them, we were relegated, and then Heysel happened …
Ten years later, in 1995, a mediocre season was ticking along. The highs of the previous two years had taken their toll, but we were OK; mid-table and host to an exciting new striker in the shape of Ashley Ward. A fresh crop of youngsters, too, were knocking on the first team door: Cureton, Eadie, Johnson and, ahem, Akinbiyi.
Of course, Chase was slowly selling off the club behind our backs, but relegation did not seem a realistic possibility at the turn of the year. Then, from 2 January to 15 March 1995, we failed to win a match. The goals began to dry up; key players were sold.
Thankfully, it seemed, a 3-0 win at home to Ipswich meant all would be well. City were back, the rot had been stopped, minds turned to next season. Seven straight defeats later and we fell into the bottom three. The rest, as they say, is history. Horrible, horrible days …
Now, this season is not quite like those of 1984-85 and 1994-95. Most obviously, the Grant-Duffy axis has added an extra dimension to the nightmare we are currently living through.
Nevertheless, there is a similar feeling of foreboding about our post-Hull slump. Even the big win against Colchester feels ominously reminiscent of those against Stoke in 1985 and Ipswich in 1995.
Having appeared safe in mid-table (Yes, a remarkable feat given the position in October…), we have since fallen into that old losing habit. Three wins, two draws and seven defeats later mean we are staring relegation squarely in the face. Only Colchester and Scunthorpe have lost more games than us.
Where, in December, Stan could cheer our rediscovering the art of drawing a football match, we have since returned to type. Back-to-back defeats and the odd win every four games have pushed us slowly but surely into the relegation mire.
In the great scheme of things, losing to West Brom is no disgrace. They are a fine team and deserve promotion. At a time when every point is like gold dust, however, Saturday's defeat was thoroughly depressing. Great game of football, but a car-crash of a result.
In so many ways, moreover, it summed up our predicament. We played well for much of the game, created chances and stood toe-to-toe with the best team in the division. Simultaneously, we failed – again – to take our chances.
At the other end, Shackell did his usual goal-give-away trick to ruin an otherwise decent performance. We can, of course, bemoan the bonkers referee, but – as usual – we were the architects of our own downfall.
Things did not start well. Having brilliantly amassed an effective formation and team in November-December, Roeder has since fallen prey to 'modern manager syndrome': changing things for changes sake, saying one thing one week before doing the opposite another, playing square pegs in round holes unnecessarily.
Dropping Russell was, barring illness or a knock, inexplicable. Returning to the tried-and-failed Doc-Shacks partnership was, shall we say, a gamble. Two minutes in and Stan awaited a mauling. Gibbs, again, looked unready and unsuited to Championship football; Pattison, again, looked uncomfortable in the middle of the park; Docs and Shacks, again, looked like they were playing together for the first time…
Fair enough, we got back into the game and really should have got at least a point.
But the failure, in January, to add Martin Taylor and a striker to the squad remains so evidently the weight around our ankles, dragging us into oblivion. As it is, before rectifying the limitations of our current squad, we must beat QPR. Fail to do so, and Hillsborough looms, like Elland Road and Craven Cottage before it, as a potential Canary graveyard.
Please, in the name of the Almighty Drinkell, we must not let it come to that …