Bournemouth was lousy. City’s performance was unacceptable, even allowing for the rigours of Stoke three days before. Whatever new signings are in the pipeline, the current group need to pull their socks up and return to the levels we saw around Christmas.
I think we can all agree on that, and Alex Neil and his players are honest enough not to shirk from it either.
And yet, the comment from fans on social media ranged hugely. Some of it was so wild that there’s strong temptation to pen another article on the value of level-headedness, composure and perspective. But my views on that are well known, and sounding like a broken record is something I’d rather leave to our politicians and TV pundits.
Suffice to say, it’s perfectly legitimate for fans to let off steam after a bad performance. Telling the players (or manager) “you were rubbish today” may be harsh but it’s OK. However, telling players they’re an effing disgrace and should never wear the shirt again – especially when the player has been at the heart of our three promotions since 2010 – is surely beyond the pale.
For certain, it’s not compatible with any thought of helping or supporting our club.
In the words often heard since Saturday, let’s move on. We have two genuinely exciting, as well as expensive, new signings to welcome.
I confess I don’t know much about Timm Klose, though I take encouragement from the positive assessments of people like Owen Hargreaves who are close (no pun intended) to the German scene. He certainly fits the bill of what most of us agreed should be our top priority.
Steven Naismith is much more familiar to me, and I reckon he’ll make at least as great an impact on the second half of the season as Robbie Brady has made on the first. His best position is No 10, where he can bring something we’ve seriously lacked. Much as we love Wes, he doesn’t provide the goalscoring threat that’s a key element of the role. Naismith will cause defenders a range of problems, in turn creating more space and opportunities for our No 9. That lone striker role has been a thankless one of late.
Every analysis suggests that the January signings most likely to work are those with experience and know-how in the Premier League. Will Naismith or Grabban have a more positive impact for their team between now and May? I know who my money’s on.
Despite the new signings, we probably need to prepare ourselves for one or two more days like Bournemouth. To help ease the pain, I have a collection I turn to. No, not THAT kind of collection. It’s a compilation of odd stories and letters to newspapers – some bizarre, some intentionally funny, some unintentionally.
I’m still fond of an old one, the report of an African country planning to change from driving on the left to driving on the right: “The Minister said the change will be made gradually”. Wonder how they got on with that one.
Those of us advancing in years will probably appreciate a more recent letter to the editor of The Telegraph, as part of an exchange about greeting cards:
Sir – I am reminded of the occasion of my mother’s birthday. Having forgotten all about it until that morning, my father dashed to the corner store without his spectacles, chose a pretty card and proudly handed it to my mother at breakfast.
She was at something of a loss to know how to interpret the message of the card: “Bon Voyage”.
A current favourite, though, is the rather plaintive letter from a young mother:
We chose our daughter’s name, Lanesra, because it was unique and romantic. It wasn’t til she was two that my husband told me it was actually his favourite team, Arsenal, spelled backwards.
Wouldn’t have minded being a fly on the wall for that conversation.
Next up Liverpool and Spurs at Carrow Road, with some extra pressure from the tightening of things on the edge of relegation zone. Both of those opponents are on the up, but neither is unbeatable. Our new arrivals will give a lift to the squad as well as the fans. Let’s show them our support at its best.