In the current climate and with a divided fanbase, expressing an opinion on City’s plight is akin to painting a target on your forehead and shouting “come at me”, regardless of whether your glass is half-full or half-empty.
With that in mind, it’s worth starting this piece with two facts.
Firstly, I love my club. I really do, despite what follows.
Secondly, I genuinely respect those amongst us whose support of the club extends to a seemingly unwavering belief that it’s all going to be okay. Positivity and optimism are wonderful characteristics to have and shouldn’t be sneered at.
I just wish I could find some.
In football, as in life, there’s a balance to be had between appreciating the moment and looking forward; a trade-off between the ‘big picture’ and the ‘here and now’.
When City beat Middlesbrough to clinch promotion at Wembley, the balance was perfect. We had the sheer delirium of an amazing day to savour, alongside the prospect of exciting times ahead. A summer of expectation and the signings to come before we took our place in the Premier League’s spotlight.
The overwhelming sense on that walk back along Wembley Way was a blend of pure satisfaction and anticipation.
What followed was of course a lesson in harsh realities. A sobering reminder, if one was needed, that the ‘land of milk and honey’, is actually a ‘land of angst and money’. The top flight is, for all bar a privileged few, a continual grind to gather enough points to earn the right to do it all over again.
But it remains the place to be and for a club such as ours, it surely has to be the aspiration.
After relegation, I wasn’t one who expected or demanded an instant return. The Championship is littered with clubs who are chasing the same goal, and every season, all bar three of them will ultimately face disappointment regardless of the amount of money they spent, their history or their fans’ expectations.
What I hoped for was a sense of progression, an indication that the club was putting plans in place to give it another go.
The words ‘transition’ and ‘project’ have been regularly used to describe what is in effect a radical overhaul of the club’s structure and personnel. The size of that task can’t be understated and, in the circumstances, the calls for patience are warranted. After all, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’.
But that assumes that we’re building Rome, rather than Romford.
Webber and Stone have been lauded by some for their efforts to rejuvenate the squad and reduce the wage bill by removing the club’s top earners and replacing them with cheaper alternatives.
A wholly necessary exercise given the stark financial challenge that lies ahead and the legacy of previous mismanagement.
The leap of faith is to assume that the process of balancing the books, will leave us with a playing squad that’s better placed to mount a promotion challenge, rather than a team of journeymen and youngsters whose salary demands and abilities are both more suited to mid-table in the Championship.
That’s the big picture that we’re being asked to buy into.
The potential light at the end of what is becoming a pretty dark tunnel.
The prize that awaits at the end of the transition, which warrants so much patience.
Maybe it will work out, maybe it won’t. None of us can know for sure.
But I’m amazed at how many are prepared to effectively write-off and excuse a season that has been so abject and lacking in entertainment, on the basis that it will all be alright in the end.
I’ve seen as many relegation seasons as promotion seasons and countless more in between, where in real terms, the club has achieved the square root of sod all. Perhaps that drives a short-term mentality.
I don’t demand or expect success and feel no sense of entitlement to it.
I’m simply a bloke who pays money to watch football matches and I do it to enjoy myself.
Or rather I used to, because it’s the enjoyment that’s sadly lacking.
Farke wants to implement a style of football with players who lack the quality to do it effectively. The result as we’ve all seen, is often slow, laboured and devoid of intensity or excitement.
Unable to strike a balance between defensive solidity and attacking intent, we flip-flop between formations and look either completely toothless or horribly exposed.
Contrary to some of the more sensationalist rhetoric, this is not the worst it’s ever been. Not by a long shot, but it makes for pretty hard viewing and worse still, there’s precious little on show to suggest that any pennies are dropping or signs of genuine progress.
Those of a more optimistic persuasion will tell you to remain patient; to wait until after the next transfer window and presumably the next one and the one after that before passing judgement.
After all, we’re in transition.
Those like myself are more concerned about what we’re watching now and what it is we’re transitioning towards.
Target painted… “come at me!”