There are certain times when you wonder why we love this game they call football so much. I certainly questioned it at times when Glenn Roeder was in charge of City. Probably more so under Chrissy Hughton. And sadly – if things don’t improve from Saturday – Daniel Farke may force me to question my loyalty to watching 22 men kick a ball around every Saturday.
To be fair, I’ve actually quite enjoyed this season so far. Seeing new players come in. A foreign manager at the Carra for the first time. And one trying to impart an overseas philosophy of pass and retain possession onto his players. I’ve even admired the improved defensive performances he’s managed to extract – even if they have come at the cost of attacking football.
But, things are starting to go wrong at an alarming rate. Tiredness following a raft of games prior to the international break, including the derby and that game at the Emirates, was a factor. But know it looks more like an excuse. A rather thin sheet of paper covering over the cracks.
Against Barnsley, City created virtually nothing. The goal they scored – deflected. The goal they conceded – poor. The play in the middle – slow, predictable, boring.
The smattering of boos at the end. Deserved.
Blunt, toothless, ineffective
Whatever adjectives you choose to describe City’s attack, clinical won’t be one of them. Prior to the game, I envisaged this blog being built around the opponent’s name, and Norwich’s inability to hit the entrance to the farm building contained within it.
But the Canaries didn’t even come close to getting a shot away, let alone hitting the barn door.
True, Nelson Oliveira had a few attempts. His return from his mystery injury was encouraging. But the wild, wayward nature of his finishing was comparable to Cameron Jerome’s latest efforts. If the Portuguese could just see a pass instead of a shot now and then he’d be a Premier League player. But he’s not, which is why he’s a good Championship one.
Even that’s more than some in the squad.
Marley Watkins has done nothing to suggest he’s good enough to excel at this level. Marco Stierpermann frustrates. Mario Vrancic has talent, but maybe not the speed to excel in the English leagues. James Husband has been singled out for criticism. and it’s unfortunately not hard to see why.
And then there’s Josh Murphy. One of the heroes of the Youth Cup win, the boy has talent. He also lacks game intelligence. And application. Too many wrong decisions, too few attempts to win a header or a 50-50 challenge.
And then there’s the attitude. Farke called him out for it earlier in the season. The cupped hand to the ear following a fortuitous finish highlighted it’s still there. The boy can do special things with the ball but is not good enough to believe he’s above criticism. Like his brother, I won’t be sorry if he leaves the club. And as one of very few members of a City cup winning team, that’s sad.
Frustration is not helpful
As the old man was otherwise engaged on Saturday, my girlfriend accompanied me to the game. She doesn’t like football. But I’m convinced that watching City live will change her mind. It hasn’t so far. In the four matches she’s watched, City have lost twice. and won only once.
Given the borefest that was produced on Saturday, it’s unlikely her head will be turned anytime soon.
What accompanies these frustrations is moans and groans from the crowd. And booing. And swearing. All of which puts her off even more. The frustration is understandable. But it doesn’t help a man trying to make his girl love the game he spends so much of his time watching. and it doesn’t help a team that’s down on confidence, and possibly ability.
Hopefully, a certain Scotsman’s return will provoke a better atmosphere next week. But before that, let’s hope the reduced pressures of an away game bring a good result against the Forest.
I’ll be listening on the wireless (following my own game of 7-a-side). Because I do still love the game really.
Even through these low points.