Saying I’m happy about the season to date would, obviously, be a lie. The performances, the bile, bitterness and arguments, the complete lack of managerial bounce, the attendance figures. But, and I don’t know if it’s just the Christmas spirit arriving earlier than usual, or the excitement that The Peacock is back with us again on match days, but something makes me think there could be good times ahead.
Before you say it, yes, we all know, you can’t polish a turd… but you can always roll one in glitter.
So, let’s see if we can find some positives. Things to cling to, as we move into what could be the most important two months of the season and a chance to begin again. We all know that the results need to improve if we are to get promoted, but we also know the mood of the place won’t improve if we keep clinging to the negatives currently flying around the club and the city as a whole. Parkinson and Methven have both made it clear that there’ll be squad improvements coming in January thanks to a demand from the manager and a response from the team but, what else should keep us positive going into the Coventry game?
Here are three positives to keep you optimistic…
1) Concentrating on The League
When I said in the summer that I never wanted to go to Wembley again, I didn’t mean it. I quite like a cup run, even better when they end up with a day out at Wembley but, what I learned last season is that, actually, I don’t feel that way about the Check-a-lease cup. Last season it gave me something to do on Mother’s Day but, more importantly it stalled our season. I firmly believe that without that trip to Wembley, we’d have been promoted. The fatigue kicked in, the extra games caused extra niggly injuries and the day out had become a distraction. As that was the only cup likely to result in a trip to Wembley this season and any cup run would be time off the training ground with game time and injuries taking away from the league campaign, I’m not losing a lot of sleep over the fact we’re out of the cups.
One of the things we were desperate for when Ross left was a tighter defence and turning home draws into home wins. While results and attacking performances have certainly not improved under new management, defensively we seem to be slightly stronger conceding only two goals in the four games since Parkinson took over. He’s also got 100% record in the league at home. If that can continue and the players can start adding an attacking intent to their play, we could start to make the Stadium of Light the fortress it needs to be to achieve promotion. And here comes the really good news… Between now and Boxing Day, we have four home games and one away game (and even the away game is Gillingham who took 100 minutes to get a shot on target against us). That presents an opportunity for the players to boost their confidence, get quality time on the training ground with no travelling and get ready for the second half of the season. I think we have to aim for 15 points from those 5 games. If we get them, the season would see us on 40 points from 20 games and then, automatic promotion is on. A decent end to December and, before you know it, we go into the January window looking like we know where we’re going.
3) The Other Teams Are All Rubbish
40 points from 20 games is, of course, the mythical two point average. Based on how dreadful the vast majority of other teams are in the division, I suspect that would see a team promoted this season. Ipswich might have gone but I don’t think anyone else is close to them across a whole season. Whenever we think how poor the season has been to date, the realisation that we are only five points off the automatic spots and with games in hand, are potentially 3rd or 4th (or even 2nd) going into Christmas is often missed. The one thing you can guarantee to cover all manner of ills in this division is that no one is very good. Add that to a home run of games, including of course games against Burton and Coventry who sit near us in their aspirations, and, in a month the world could look a lot brighter.
I’m not trying to go all Happy Clapper on this, we’ve not been playing well. But we’ve new coaches, new money floating around the club with a plan of how to spend it, a manager after five players in January, and before you know it, if we can get a run of games together, we’ll be heading back where we belong. There’s no point moping and focusing on the last six weeks. Just get along to the match and find the positives. Because they do exist and I think there will be more positives gradually coming between now and Transfer Deadline Day.
I know someone trying to write a positive article will freak out those who are so obsessed with pointing out every single negative that it’s almost like they want our club to fail, but sod them, I love my club…