Another home game, another defeat.
While not quite 'Groundhog Day', watching Norwich at Carrow Road has now becoming horribly repetitive.
Start slow and then play OK witout really creating anything; concede a soft goal or two against the run of play; change the formation; improve somewhat but never quite have the wherewithal to overcome the mountain we have given ourselves to climb.
Last night, against a very average Palace side, was the same again.
After all the talk of consistency and going on a run, we get a humiliating defeat and another week of looking at the drop-zone looming below. And as Stan left Carrow Road last night, he felt a sense of resignation all around him.
This is it lads, prepare for Division One – the players aren't up for it and the manager's pretending he's in charge of England Under-19s or the Arsenal Ladies team. We're doomed …
Of course, things change. Injuries and suspensions come and go. A mini-run of at least seven points from nine may be enough to pull us away from the very bottom of the league.
As it stands, however, the future looks bleak. Last night's defeat meant that we have lost more at home than we have won this season. Our defence looks as weak as it ever did in the dark days of the Premier and immediate post-Premier season; our strikers as toothless as a dental check up in an old people's home.
Given all this, Stan tried to focus his thoughts as he walked to the King's Head to drown his sorrows.
Consequently, three things repeatedly bullied their way to the front of his mind, two of which saw the return of his own personal S[a]tan.
The first was how embarrassing Roader's psychological games were in the build up to the match. Talk of 4-3-3, of Hoolehan in the hole, of an attacking cutting edge – what a load of b*****ks.
No doubt, Neil Warnock was all at sea by this subterfuge. Even though, for the last 30 years, Warnock has only ever played one way – niggle, dig, spoil, batter and steal a point or two – this year's journey to Carrow Road must have seen him in turmoil about how to deal with the Norwich plan.
And then – oh my gosh – it was a trick. Sibierski starts with Lita – the deadly duo are back. What will Palace do..?
Answer? Do what Warnock's teams always do: close down, break up the play and combine muscle with organisation to nick a point or two (or three).
Basically, our Glenn couldn't resist tinkering; he does not know what his best team is; or his best formation. End of story.
Second, as S[a]tan worked his way through the individual performances on show last night, he came to a very unsettling conclusion. Who had a stinker?
Bertrand, whose Premiership credentials have forever been in question since that bit-part Binner tore him to shreds last season. Last night he bombed, going so far as to completely mis-kick a static ball.
Who else? Kennedy. Out-paced and left face down on the floor by the lightening speed of … Kuqi.
Sibierski. Sluggish, out-jumped and always behind the game. Lita. Faded, missed chances and appeared either tired or lacking commitment by the end of the 90 minutes.
Who played well? Hoolahan, Patty, Crofty and Clingan all had a more than decent game; Foz, Bell and John O did their bit. Basically, all the loans were awful while our lads went down fighting. Of course, such S[a]tan[ic] thoughts must be contextualised in the frustration of the moment.
That said, Stan would himself state categorically that Drury is a better left-back than Bertrand. Similarly, to keep your creative players – meaning Hoolahan – on the bench is to invite defeat. All of which led to Stan's final thought: we played really well in the second-half.
Wes looked a different class playing in the middle, than out wide. He and Patty allowed Foz to find his touch, Crofty and John O teamed up well to cause problems down the right, while Bell only let himself down by the number of offsides he accrued.
Clingan, meanwhile, gave every recent City centre-back bar Martin Taylor a lesson in composure and defensive intelligence. Put bluntly, with an in-form or decent striker in tow, we would have looked a handy old team.
And there, of course, is the rub. We seem forever to be a piece short of the jigsaw puzzle. And until the manager decides and sticks with a chosen formation, and until we find a bit of resilience to shore up our sorry defence, then it will always be so.
Otherwise, Ellend Road here we come …
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