Ange Postecoglou today scorned the idea that the league race might be over. He’s right, of course, because it’s barmy to be talking that way after a mere seven games, but our form is so bad right now that we risk the argument becoming moot.
What good does it do us to hit form a month from now? If we’re behind in the league by double digits then we might as well stumble along as we are right now because in all likelihood nothing we do will be enough to claw back that deficit.
Ange has to consider the environment we’re in for more than just the nature of the media and the debate which surrounds it.
There are two teams here with vastly greater budgets and resources than the rest, and if one of them is failing, consistently, the other only has to grind it out and they will move decisively ahead. They are getting results in spite of not playing well, and whilst there’s an element of riding their luck over there, we aren’t putting pressure on them.
We can’t afford to wait for players to come back and others to bed in before we start winning on a regular basis. As I said previously, the team that does put together a good winning run – eight, nine, ten games – will most probably win this league.
Right now, that looks more like something they could do than us. We look weak, both physically and mentally. Ange said in midweek that he would not accept excuses or feel sorry for himself, and in a piece this morning I said he wouldn’t let the team do it either, and his comments today were bullish and confident. But talk is cheap. It won’t get this done.
Nobody should be writing us off. But we’re getting to a place where we could be so far behind that it would take a collapse across the city to give us a realistic chance.
October is the do-or-die month away from home; if we fall further behind people are rightly going to be asking if we’ve blown it, because although titles aren’t won this early in the season they can be lost this early. Last season’s title was effectively lost in November … this one might slip away from us even sooner.
He has to get his arms around this. He has to start putting points on the board. If that requires changes to the tactics, then he has to be brave and strong enough to make them.
We are one dimensional and predictable at the moment, all the power we showed early in the campaign has already deserted us.
We saw evidence that Ange had the right idea but that today looked so much like a Lennon team that it was depressing and scary.
We don’t look like challengers far less champions right now. If this goes on much longer teams are not going to fear us and every one of them will think we’re there for the taking. If we fall into that pit of despair, then we will be.
The last thing I want to hear this coming week, from players or coaches or anyone at the club, is how much they get this and how determined they are to turn it around; it’s all the same pitiful garbage we heard last season, at every stage, as we slid towards disaster.
Ange is right, this is a weird league surrounded by a lot of hype and hysteria, but the simple truth is that it’s also a brutal and punishing and unforgiving environment. We are running out of time to turn this around, and fans are already tired of excuses.