Fans' Opinion

Decline and fall?

Author: . Published: at 5:13pm

Written by : Nick Moore

‘Best squad ever…’ ‘Challenging for European qualification…’ ‘Moving to the next level…’

It’s surprising to find myself writing this. A manager who was welcomed to the club with enthusiasm seems to be inspiring a disintegration of a side that had promise.

Fans have just watched a stunningly inept performance. Misplaced passes, wasted possession, losing softly in tackles we should have won, having no idea how to defend against pace, committing really stupid fouls, making Newcastle look good, starting slowly again, playing backwards and sideways and showing very little energy. The score line flattered us. Newcastle could have been four or five up at half time.

It’s not even the first time this season.

When David Moyes was temporary manager and got us a bit organised if rather defensive, some fans thought he would get the job. After all he kept us up when we looked like serious relegation candidates under Slav. We worried it would be deadly dull and his judgement in the transfer market (not buying Madison as recommended by ex and buying Hugill) seemed pretty rubbish, but still assumed he was a shoe in.

Then it turned out the board had an impressive Plan B – an attacking coach with a great track record who had won the premier league. Then even more surprisingly cash was splashed. Exciting players came to the club.

Fans liked the idea of Pellegrini – a soft spoken coach they could see as a reasonable heir to Greenwood and Lyall. We would play a bit of football on the floor, and we would be attacking. We might lose some games but there would be some outstanding performances too.

And that was what it looked like. We beat Man U. We drew with a Liverpool whose goal was offside. We won in some new stadium in North London. We won coming from behind at Southampton. There were some very bad days but there great ones too – and the second season would be the charm.   

We started with the usual drubbing at the hands of Man City. But it was Man City. We got better, and dreams of a top six or seven finish were in the air – but turned out to be a false dawn. The sides we have beaten, Watford, Norwich and a decidedly off colour Man U are hardly great scalps.

After the United game we got slaughtered by Oxford. No lessons learnt from previous mass changes in cup games. We got beaten up the year before by Wimbledon in the FA Cup doing the same thing. It’s Einstein who is usually credited with saying that “Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results.”

It is also worrying for a team with European pretensions that the squad is so weak when rotated.

We haven’t won since the Oxford debacle. We have also been awful twice in the five games since, at Everton and again against Newcastle. We have dropped more points from winning positions than any team in the league including against Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United. 

Against Sheffield United our two best players were substituted. Our pacey right back wasn’t picked today against a team whose strategy was always to sit deep and hit us quickly on the counter.

We haven’t played Liverpool Chelsea Arsenal or Leicester yet. We are in trouble.

Now we will get the Pravda treatment from the official website about sticking together and working hard. Please don’t bother. Just play better.

This can’t be about the board; they have invested. It is about the manager, the coaching staff and the players. Fans hope Pellegrini sorts it – but there is fear though that we are on the slide to nowhere.

Today was unacceptable by any standard and it’s happening with alarming regularity.