Friday, 9 March 2012

The bigger picture

Now that I am back in something approaching the real world again after two and a half days of flu-induced fog, I have been catching up on events in the CTFC one.
I hear the delight from you all that you are spared the usual in-depth insight into events at the Globe, if you were there, you saw it unfold, or if not then you heard it.
Me? I was looking forward to seeing it, having set off from Gloucester with Pete Matthews in the BBC car feeling OK, but then three hours later felt like I had been on the end of a Russ Penn sliding tackle.
A sleep in the car didn't help, and I even turned down the offer of a pint in the pub - so I handed over the summary duties to James Young and tried to sit and watch the game.
I saw us dominate the first half-hour and go in front, then concede a poor equaliser, then as the shivers ans shakes took hold, I stayed indoors for the second half, watched two more dreadful goals go in, and then finally gave up the ghost.
Thanks to Pete for driving all the way back with me moaning and muttering next to him - I vaguely remember him stopping for Red Bull somewhere on the M6... I hope the 5am start wasn't too painful...
Thanks also to the concern of the other press guys, Jon Palmer, Murry Toms and JY, and the very kind Morecambe fan who was a nurse and gave me some paracetamols and checked my pulse as well after the game.
So where does this all leave us then?
From reading my Twitter account, the seemingly popular view is that the defeat at Morecambe was down to Keith Lowe, and the fact that he isn't Steve Elliott.
Harsh - as that's not exactly his fault.
One tweet I saw read : 'F*** off Keith Lowe your (sic) s**t.' Very constructive...
Blaming Keith wholly for the defeat also lets off the hook our wide men and full-backs who allowed Morecambe's full-backs and wide men to cross the ball into our box at will.
Blame also the striker and midfielders who didn't take at least three golden chances inside the first 20 minutes when  Morecambe's naive formation gave us the freedom of the Globe.
Then look at the midfielders and defence as a whole for failing to come to grips with the Shrimps' change in formation.
Also, for one of the goals at least, it excuses the positioning of the goalkeeper. Oops, forgot. Not meant to criticise him... I bet Scott Brown... no, I won't go there.
So many people were culpable on Tuesday, not just the Bilston Cafu, but yes, it was a chance missed to pick up momentum for tomorrow's test at Swindon.
We go there second in the table with 11 games to go. Surely that's so much more than anyone could have been hoping for at this stage of the season, isn't it?
All of you who went to Stourbridge in pre-season. Or Newport. Or Telford. Or Bath. Second In March? You're having a laugh mate.
Yes, the teams behind are closing in - it's two points to fifth place and only 10 down to 8th, and we have five games now against top eight sides, but I sense a lot of pessimism amongst our fans.
'We've won 3 games in 10' said one post on the Nest I saw earlier. True, but look at it another way - Tuesday was our first defeat in five. So you can put any spin on statistics that you want.
It also seems that many fans are expecting a drop down the table into the play-off places - and some would term that as a disaster, or some sort of failure.
What?
How can a top-seven finish for a side with the smallest budget of the promotion chasers by far, who were written off as relegation fodder by the bookies and just about every pundit going a matter of six months ago be termed as 'failure'?
I suggested this earlier on Twitter and was accused of having a 'small club mentality'. Sorry. I wasn't aware I wasn't allowed to be realistic, or that I was now supporting Real Madrid.
What has suddenly given us the God-given right to expect a top-three place? Only maintaining the performances that we have turned in during the majority of our games this season can we 'expect' an automatic spot.
Granted, it might be a disappointment after spending a long time in the top three, but a 'disaster' or a 'failure'? Surely not.
Tomorrow, we go to Swindon, the league leaders for a top-of-the-table clash, first v second.
Sounds good doesn't it? But this game won't break our season. This game alone won't decide if we finish in the top three or not.
All it will do is tell us what we have to do in the remaining 10 games to get ourselves in that top three, where Paul Baker and his board, Mark Yates and his management team, the players and all of us fans want to be.
If we do it, wonderful. If we are in the play-offs, great, and what a fantastic season it has been. Even if we finish 8th it has still been a massive improvement on the three years that have gone before.
Yes, Swindon are a good side. They have good players and have been able, with their budget, to bring in quality when they have needed it.
But remember, we are a good side as well as we have shown on countless occasions this season, and we can go there and win.
But if we don't, it's not the end of the world. Que sera sera, and we might end up at Wemb-er-lee...