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Robin Sainty, INCSC chairman
Saturday, March 17, 2012
While there might have been a lack of talking points after the Stoke game, Sunday’s match more than made up for it. Not only did we see plenty of goalmouth incident (most of it in our own, unfortunately) and a frenetic finish in which both sides seemed to be playing defence against attack with nothing in between, but we also had Boo-gate.
The jury still seems to be out on whether the booing that John Ruddy referred to in his post-match interview was aimed at the players or the officials, but there was certainly plenty of moaning going on in a very jumpy crowd. Not only that, but the “are we safe from relegation yet?” question has reared its ugly head again, despite City extending the gap between themselves and the bottom three. So much to talk about and so little time…
Let’s start with the relegation issue. Despite Paul Lambert’s understandable caution, the facts are that with 10 games to go City are 14 points clear of 18th place with a vastly superior goal difference. For us to go down, one of the bottom three clubs has to effectively get 15 points more than us from the 30 available. It’s not going to happen.
The issue of booing or excessive criticism of players is more complex. Ultimately there will be those who say that, having paid their money they have the right to make their feelings known, and I have no argument with that. However, it’s the rationale behind some of moaning that I have a problem with. Did City’s players show a lack of effort or appetite for the fight? I don’t think so, although they were below par, as Ruddy himself admitted afterwards. However, Wigan must take a great deal of credit for stopping City playing as they would have wanted.
Essentially, the booing seems to have stemmed from the fact that we failed to beat the league’s bottom side (a side, incidentally, containing 10 full internationals).
If so, it conveniently ignores the fact that there are two sides in a football match and neither has a divine right to win (one of the reasons we love the game so much). What’s more, it also ignores the fact that footballers are human beings, not machines, and their performance levels will fluctuate.
That is not a crime as far as I’m aware. City had a bad day at the office, but so did we as supporters.
I think that some fans turned up expecting an easy win and were quick to moan when things didn’t follow their script.
Sometimes we need to provide a cue for the players, rather than waiting for them to inspire us, and maybe Sunday was one of those occasions – yet the noise levels (if you ignore grumbles and sharp intakes of breath) dropped noticeably over the course of the game.
People tend to forget that Lambert and the players are still learning about Premier League football, which makes the talk of securing a place in Europe unrealistic, as the manager pointed out after the game.
Clearly our ambitions now exceed simply avoiding relegation, and we want to finish as high as possible, but there is a danger that expectations become overblown.
Anxiety in the stands does nothing to help the players, particularly when that anxiety results from expecting things that we can only realistically hope for at present.
Finally, an appeal for help. I’m running the Lynn 10K on May 6 to raise money for EACH Quidenham and the Darren Huckerby Trust. I hope to raise over £1,000 for these wonderful charities, so if you enjoy this column (or hate it for that matter), please go to www.virginmoneygiving.com/robinsainty and sponsor me if you can. Thanks!