The title refers to my own feelings as I write in the aftermath of another self-inflicted defeat, though by the end of the article I might include someone else in the term. Today`s match was the real must-win game as compared to the more equivocal ones that preceded it. It was a season-defining event, a more accurate indicator of our fortunes than the result of the match against Manchester City. If we couldn't beat Blackpool, who can we defeat?
My head says that we can still survive but my heart tells me otherwise. Let me explain. Having just written a blog on the tension which the Wolves players must be feeling at the moment, I found myself thinking about the stress that their poor results are putting on me. After all, the outcome of a game is in their hands, whereas I am powerless to influence events. With this in mind, I decided to test my response to the pressure of the match by strapping on the heart-rate monitor I use when out training on my bike.
In anticipation of the match, I formulated certain hypotheses:
• My heart-rate would be higher if I listened to the Beacon broadcast rather than watched a freeview T.V. site;
• My heart-rate would vary according to the fortunes of the team, being lower if they were winning or losing comfortably/badly and higher if they were drawing or just behind/in front;
• The highest average heart-rate reading would occur in the first and last ten minutes of the game ... and just before half-time, of course;
• My heart-rate would peak whenever the ball got anywhere near Stearman (or Ward, if he were playing, gashed knee notwithstanding).
In the event, I was surprised to find that my heart-rate did not go through the roof; I have a resting heart-rate of 56 bpm and during the match it maintained a rate in the 80s. This equates to a level of mild arousal, such as one might experience watching Cheryl Cole in the X-Factor on a Saturday evening. This indicates that I am resigned to defeat and that, whenever we go behind, I do not expect us to make good the deficit. Even the nine minutes that elapsed after Doyle scored a goal hardly registered on the monitor.
Yet again, we gave away a goal in the first few minutes ... and another one just before half-time. It`s Groundhog Day again but in real life there`s no certainty of redemption. According to the statistics, we out-played Blackpool in every aspect of the game except fouls but couldn`t make our territorial dominance count. Even with all the possession we had, we never looked like scoring ... except, of course, for the one occasion when we did score. Blackpool were supposed to have a dodgy defence, vulnerable to a counter-attack. Well, we mounted plenty of them and they were solid. Moreover, in spite of all of Jarvis's crosses flying across the box, no-one could get on the end of them. Why not? Is it a tactical issue?
Blackpool, on the other hand, looked dangerous every time they had the ball. They attacked with pace and shredded our defence on numerous occasions. We were lucky to keep the score down to two. Phillips skinned Elokobi, proving that he is not the answer to our left back problem. Berra constantly body-checked his man or tugged at his shirt and was lucky to get away without receiving a yellow card for as long as he did. At least he is out of the Sunderland game and we can judge how well Mouyokolo plays in his place. Stearman performed reasonably well, while Mancienne was sharp and made some good runs forward.
Apart from one or two exceptions one cannot say that the team played badly. Jarvis was magnificent again and deserved better, while Milijas added creativity to our midfield. Why wasn`t he on the pitch from the start? To me, Jones was anonymous, apart from an attempted reprise of his dinky free kick and a couple of wild attempts that ballooned miles over the bar. SEB added urgency to the attack and I would play him alongside Doyle from the start. Hunt is still not up to speed and should work on his fitness and technique. Gosh, wasn`t the Manchester City match a false dawn?
MM can legitimately point to two fluky goals but the football gods have not singled us out for divine retribution week in, week out. We make our good- as well as our bad luck and after a time it becomes disingenuous to keep on repeating the mantra that our luck will change. We are where we are because we deserve to be and someone is to blame. We have good players in the side but they are not performing to the best of their ability. There is no cohesion. We get caught out at the back and we don`t put away our chances at the other end.
In so many words MM has admitted recently that he hasn`t a clue how to get us out of this mess. I have been grateful for what he has done for us to date (well, up to the end of last season) but I feel he has run into the proverbial brick wall. It`s time for a change ... but, as New York City Wolf asks, who should replace him? O`Neill is available and would be worth hiring at whatever the cost. At the moment, Ian Holloway looks good too! Dig deep into your pocket, Mr. Morgan!
I am bitterly disappointed and I am writing this post on Saturday night in sheer frustration. I normally sleep on an article before publishing it in order to allow my feelings to subside but not this time. Something has to happen. We cannot go on like this.
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