There’s no escaping that City are in free fall. No wins in eight is a rotten run in anyone’s book and a quick glance at the league table is sufficient to make the sphincter tighten.
Where once we were gazing upwards, dreaming of squirming our way into play-off contention, now of more concern is whether Bolton, Burton and Sunderland have picked up points and closed the gap on us. If form tables are your thing we’re already in the bottom three.
Even more concerning is that this current slide shows no sign of arresting and our head coach has given up trying to explain away the reasons behind defeat, relying instead on going ‘all in’ on the officialdom. Yet, while he may or may not have had a point, he’ll know deep down that his team, after a bright first half, were second best after the break to such an extent it was hard to argue they deserved anything from the game.
It was Neil Warnock’s birthday, he’s the managerial equivalent of a Rottweiler, Cardiff had been absolute garbage in that first half and he has a reputation for ‘losing it’ at half time. That the Bluebirds would emerge after the break breathing fire was an absolute given, yet when it happened City were simply unable to resist.
In addition to scoring three times they also hit the woodwork and missed a penalty, so it could in fact have been a lot worse. It could also have been much worse if, instead of it being been one of City’s better away performances, they had stunk the place out. And there’s the rub: one of our better away performances in terms of aesthetics ended in a comprehensive defeat that could have been a lot worse.
That, if nothing else, should rattle a cage or a two in the corridors of power. We may be in the embryonic stages of a ‘project’ – and I’m fairly cool with that – but along the way we do need to win some games of football, else the project is taking us backwards. And I’m fairly sure the project plan doesn’t include a site visit to League One.
Yet for all the unedifying talk of ‘this lot just aren’t good enough’, the optimist in me still thinks there is still enough in this squad to at least compete at this level – something we’ve barely done over the last eight games.
It may just be my half-full glass that so irritates folk playing tricks with me again, but for 45 minutes we took it to the team who are second in the Championship and caused them all sorts of problems. We only have the greed and pride of Nelson Oliveira to thank for going in only 1-0 up instead of 2-0.
Whether, given the brittleness of our defending, that would have been enough to lead us to a point or three is a moot point but it would have given City their first two-goal cushion of the season to work with.
That’s too many ifs, buts and maybes though and, however it’s dressed up, the fan and the brown stuff are perilously close right now, and all set against the very gloomy backdrop of this week’s AGM.
Steve Stone and Stuart Webber were both honest in their assessment of the current state of play, the current direction of travel making their damning assessment of the club’s finances even more brutal and stark.
All of which brings me back to the project. The same one that now virtually guarantees we’ll have Alex Pritchard and James Maddison on our books for the maximum of six more months. Our two shining lights, who we hoped would help catapult us back to the Promised Land, are working out their notice. That’s how it feels.
There appeared a resignation from board level that this now is our lot. We’ll use the self-funding model that is used by precisely no-one in the top two divisions to prune and prune until there is nothing left to prune, and then rely on the sale of players and a gem or two coming through from the Academy.
My biggest fear is what happens when there is no-one of genuine saleable value in the squad and if the Academy fails to produce Championship quality players. Then what?
Delia and Michael’s obstinate approach to even entertaining the prospect of external funding is of course their prerogative – and I respect that – but given the blunt assessment by our two executive directors, one has to wonder if they are at least considering alternative ways of making the lives of Messrs Webber and Stone that little bit easier?
The fact I think they should is irrelevant however and short of a Yellow Army whip round that produces an eight-figure sum it’s tough to see this situation changing anytime soon. We have little option but to act like grown ups and suck it up, although the current level of disillusionment and season ticket renewal time may be a toxic combination that the board are unable to ignore.
Either way, what does need to happen is that Daniel Farke and his team must find a way to win a football match or two, one that doesn’t rely solely on the return to fitness of Alex Tettey, reportedly angling for a move to Rosenborg. Minus a win anytime soon the current indifference and resignation could very soon boil over, and no-one wants that.