It’s been well acknowledged that it’s Chris Hughton’s philosophy to treat triumph and disaster the same; a prerequisite for any top flight manager. It’s therefore fair to assume that he also has the ability to keep his head when all around him are losing theirs.
At least let’s hope so…
A quick skim of the social media and message-boards post-Anfield was enough to have even the most level-headed members of the Yellow Army reaching for the sharp objects.
There is no hiding away from the abjectness of yesterday’s performance, and even those of us for whom the pint-glass is half-full have struggled to unearth too many positives. But we need to remind ourselves that this is the same group of players who took us all on that terrific ten game unbeaten run.
Without wanting to state the obvious (I think I’m about to)… the players don’t become bad ones overnight in the same way that Hughton doesn’t become a bad manager over the course of a two months. The same players who – in the midst of the ten games – took the scalps of Arsenal and Manchester United.
Despite what the national media will have us believe, results like those don’t occur because of giant dollops of luck. They happened because we have some good players who are capable of producing match winning performances, and a management team that is capable of getting the best out of them.
Yesterday was a bad day – a very bad one – akin to the opening day of the season or the reverse fixture; but we’re not the first – and won’t be the last team – to succumb to Suarez, Gerrard and co. Whilst they’re not the Liverpool of old, they still have players capable of inflicting damage… and to lose your best defender on the eve of playing them was always going to be a difficult one to cope with.
I can’t have been alone in having a slight sinking feeling when the team sheet arrived, yet – when the afternoon turned out as many predicted – we go into meltdown.
To have achieved the heady heights of seventh was great but was never going to be for the long-term. In the same way, I don’t expect us to be sinking into the bottom three anytime soon, whatever the doom-mongers may wish us to believe.
Yes, things are in need of a shake-up; Hughton will be acutely aware, hence his confirmation of bids for both Gary Hooper and Danny Graham. (It was worthy of note therefore that our Celtic target should pitch up with a brace yesterday – a little reminder of his value to our Glaswegian friends – while Graham’s contribution was just a 17 minute cameo).
Whilst I remain unconvinced that either will pitch up at Colney in this particular transfer window, this at least smacks of an acknowledgment that things need to be freshened up.
With our search for a striker remaining the main focus of the ‘Sky Sports understands…’ brigade, one should also assume that the need to strengthen all areas of the squad remains prominent in Hughton’s thoughts.
With several players – most of whom played key roles in the good run – suffering dips in form, a couple of new faces could work wonders in terms of giving the squad and fans a lift. The margins are really that fine… a couple of good results and then we potentially find ourselves just two or three wins from safety.
Even a good FA cup win against Luton may serve to turn a few of the current frowns into smiles; chuck a couple of new faces into the mix and the remainder of the season looks slightly less daunting.
Whether the next eleven days will reveal a new face, or two, remains to be seem, but I’d expect yesterday’s defeat to at least heighten the desire to ‘give the current group a hand’.
With Reading and QPR – the two that many of us had down as ‘goners’ – starting to show signs of improvement, there is a clear need to revive our season. There currently still remains a cushion between us and the bottom three – even after picking up one point from eighteen available – so to kick-on sooner rather than later is critical.
The alternative is… well, let’s not go there right now.
So… let’s hold our nerves folk, in the same way that McNally, Hughton and co will. Now is not the time to lose our heads.
As Jonesy would say…
Alan Tompkins says
Although I agree with you i do think it is time that CH looks at himself and realises that his formation doesn’t work We need to play more attacking football and go back to the diamond which is by far our best strength. Yesterday showed that he doesn’t know how to play any different which is very worrying. Liverpool thrased us at the start of the season yet CH insisted onplaying the same way against them with obvious results. I personally have always spoke out against him from the day he was appointed and so far been proved right. We need a manager who is willing to be more flexible on the pitch otherwise we are going down……..and down with a wimper
Anfield was indeed a big dissapointment. But we should not forget that at the start of the season CH said we would lose a few games by a few goals. I’m sure he’ll get a reaction and all the club will be trying hard to get back that formula that saw us on that run. This does have a whiff of the 94/95 season about it, but we’re in a much better place as a club now as compared to then. We’ve obviously got some money to spend and sure we’ll bring in some quality to improve and freshen up the squad, we’ve seen that the players will play for CH and at his other clubs his teams have performed better in the second half of the season than in the first. I’m sure we still have many ups and downs to come yet, but confident that come end of the season we’ll be safe.
Bucks Canary says
I think that Hooper and Graham would be great additions to our squad, and whilst we were on a our run of ten games undefeated, might have believed that it could happen. But with one point from the last six, we might not now be the attractive proposition that we were to incomers. There is a not-too-distant cloud of relegation on the horizon, and this will surely put some of the more desirable prospects off.
I’m totally with Alan Tompkins. Although lack of managerial continuity is a usual recipe for disiaster, my preference in this transfer window would be to reform the football management and not let this limited manager blow lots of money when he lacks the tactical flexibility to know how to best deploy and refresh them. There is sufficient talent here to enable survival – if it is utilised with some imagination and flexibility. That’s not to say that we don’t need a continuing evolution within the squad. Hooper and Graham won’t make much difference unless the tactical approach gets out of the current rut.
Hooper may be a good player, I don’t know, haven’t seen him. But he hasn’t played at any decent level. I grew up in Scotland so it pains me to say that the SPL is indeed a mickey mouse league these days. Two familiar examples to illustrate this : Stephen Elliot caused few sparks when here briefly on loan toward the end of the League 1 campaign – Mr Paul didn’t retain him. Owen Tudur Jones was quickly shuffled on by Mr Paul, deemed not up to the League 1 task ahead, but he is now a regular starter at Inverness Cale Thistle who are 2nd in the SPL. Little wonder Hooper is scoring goals in that league.
And whatever manager my wishful thinking might bring in, I’m firmly of the view that the club needs a formal check and balance on what the manager is doing. It’s crazy to let three guys off the street come in and they not be subject to accountability and audit of their decisions and what they put on the park.
. . . . . and Stephen Elliot was for at least a couple of seasons a regular starter for my old club, the Hearts. These examples should give you some yardstick to compare the SPL standard to our situation.