Saturday, February 25, 2012
Before I went away I had been a little worried as to how I was going to come up with this week’s column, particularly as I would be in no position to comment on the Leicester game.
However, the number of conversations that I had on holiday simply as a result of wearing my colours went a long way towards solving the problem.
Ironically the first of these was with some fellow City fans in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, but in the course of the week I got some interesting insights into how we are perceived by fans of other clubs, and just how much we have remained under the radar.
One Manchester United fan (and, yes, he did come from London) explained to me at length how the problem that small clubs like us have is that we raise our game when we play the big boys, but suffer from a failure to knock over the minnows. When I pointed out that we had doubled both the other promoted sides and had dropped very few points to teams below us he seemed genuinely surprised.
I suspect he won’t take up my suggestion of a cheeky tenner on a City win on Sunday with Holt to score the winner from a disputed penalty in the seventh minute of injury time. It’s his loss.
The attitude of a Spurs fan was very similar, and it does seem that the top clubs see themselves as being in a mini league of half a dozen or so, with clubs like Norwich largely irrelevant. Having said that, a self-important attitude isn’t confined to the upper reaches of the Premiership. One of the funniest conversations I heard all week was at the airport, where a West Ham supporter was loudly telling a group of Leeds fans how lucky they were to be able to play a big club like the Hammers this season. That went down well, as you might imagine.
While, in fairness, a lot of people commented on how well City had played this year it was nearly always with the rider that next season would be much more difficult.
While I understand that line of reasoning to some extent, it presupposes that the team doesn’t continue to develop and gets found out by other managers. In fact, I think that City are becoming more and more difficult to play against because of the number of variations that we can use, as evidenced by the fact that since the turn of the year our record is four wins and a draw from six league games.
What’s more, we invested in two exciting new players in January who haven’t even figured yet and there will inevitably be further activity in the summer.
Talking of activity, it seems that the managerial roundabout is building up steam, but why do clubs wait until mid February before sacking managers? The dismissals of Simon Grayson and particularly Lee Clark show just how precarious a manager’s career is, with short-term underperformance outweighing previous longer-term success.
Of course, the problem facing anyone stepping into their shoes now is that immediate results are expected, yet with the transfer window closed there is no real option but to work with the players who have underperformed. It’s hardly surprising that Alan Curbishley, who always strikes me as a very astute bloke, has been so reluctant to accept the poisoned chalice at Wolves, given the lack of depth in their squad.
However, one appointment that stands out for me was Ken Bates’ decision to take Neil Warnock to Leeds, bringing together two of the most easy going and publicity shy characters in football. I’ll give it six months….