Mark Brophy

Home » Football » Stoke (H) Special 31/10/2015

Stoke (H) Special 31/10/2015

  • Iron Mike on his Way

    So Mike Williamson’s on his way out of the club. He’s signed on loan for Wolves, who play in the Championship. It’s a quick downturn in his fortunes here. Last season he was one of our first-choice pairing at centre-half, now he appears to have dropped if not off the radar completely then certainly down the pecking order. Not only is he not a first-choice, neither is he even next in the list to replace one of those who are. Just 18 months ago, our fans only half-jokingly campaigned to #GetMikeOnThePlane, the plane in question being that taking the England squad to the Brazil 2014 World Cup. Now it’s more likely we’ll #GetMikeOnTheMegabus, all the way to Wolverhampton. In the continued and continual absence of Steven Taylor this leaves us with Jamaal Lascelles as our next replacement at centre-back. Lascelles is young and unproven at this level and it’s not right that we should rely on him, though the return of Paul Dummett from injury means he can fill in there too if necessary. For all Williamson’s well-documented faults, even if he did want to leave for first-team football, I find it astonishing that we are reducing our already-thin defensive options. If we were going to ship him out, the time to do it was the summer, when we could have replaced him. This is nothing less than short-term, short-sighted incompetence by our transfer team.
    Rats in a Sack
    Sepp Blatter has come out fighting this week and attacked Michel Platini, saying that Platini began the whole FIFA crisis merely to unseat Blatter. He also let slip that the decision to award the 2018 tournament to Russia had already been made before it was voted upon, implying that the entire voting process was merely a PR exercise, a sham. In his enthusiasm to smear others he doesn’t seem to have noticed that he is digging himself an ever-bigger hole. None of this makes him look any better certainly yet he lashes out anyway. Apparently he considers himself still FIFA President and astonishingly will attempt to carry on as such if there isn’t a clear winner of the Presidential elections in February, even though he is currently suspended from all football-related activity by the organisation he claims to lead. How on earth did we ever let these people run our game?
    On a Run
    You may have noticed Derby storming up the Championship recently, they are currently the form team of the division with 6 wins and 2 draws in their last 8 league games, and are poised in the playoff positions to push on. Their manager Paul Clement has turned them around from the awful run they suffered under Steve McClaren at the end of last season to miss out on the playoffs on the final day. Contrast that with McClaren’s so far unsuccessful attempts to alter the relegation form we’ve been in since before last Christmas.
    Of course it’s not as simple as that. Prior to their bad run Derby were top until as late as the end of February. They were never a bad side so changing their fortunes wasn’t as difficult a task as doing the same to us, who’ve been flirting with the drop for years now. Derby’s form at the end of last season was out of character but ours wasn’t. I read a story this week about Alex Ferguson phoning Paul Sturrock when he was struggling and telling him he should “get rid of under-performing players instead of trying to change their mentality”. We may need to employ a similar tactic sooner rather than later.
    The top of the Championship makes interesting reading for those interested in Newcastle. Top are Brighton, managed by Chris Hughton, proving his credentials again. Next come Burnley and Hull, newly relegated and enjoying their financial superiority over their competitors, a situation we could feasibly find ourselves in again next season. After that come Derby, their problems under McClaren apparently solved now by Clement, and finally Birmingham who perhaps even more impressively than at Derby have been reborn under Gary Rowett after they dispensed with the services of ex-Mag Lee Clark.
    Points mean Prizes
    People tell me there’s a silver lining to our defeat down the road last Sunday, that being our performance in dominating the game even with 10 men and losing only to the vagaries of a whistler’s whims. It’s certainly better than the flat drifts to defeat we’ve suffered so often recently in that fixture. However we are 10 games into our league season now, over a quarter of the way in and we are at the point where encouraging performances are of scant use. We need points and fast. I appreciate that in the long term better football will serve us well but we are in a fight now and there’s only one way to get out of it: win and keep winning.
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