Last night, in the aftermath of that bruising draw, Ange was put on the spot about the rotation issue. He is willing to rotate this squad. He wants to. But last night was not an example of him doing so. The players who were out were not available.
And that is that. Ange has answered the question satisfactorily. Kyogo wasn’t fit enough to play and neither was Hart or any of the others. Starfelt, of course, was banned after one of the most ridiculous double yellow cards ever handed out to a player.
So what happened last night is simple enough, I suppose; this injury crisis of ours has finally caught up with us and cost us something. It’s a minor miracle this hasn’t happened before now. Of course, we came close to that at Ross County … it’s been coming.
The manager has told us his thinking. He was a little flippant last night when asked the question, but that’s frustration talking because he knows we were almost there, as the rest of us do. The injury issues aren’t going to be behind us until we come out of the winter break, and maybe, for some players not even then, but we’ll be closer to where we want to be.
We’ll also be stronger in several departments, and that’s critical.
We are all pissed off this morning, but you can bet that Ange feels this as much as all of us. We will be better prepared for such a moment as this next season, but he knows that there’s still a long way to go in this one and he will be disappointed but not disheartened.
We can’t be either. Because this team has proved that it can go on a long run of wins, and a long run unbeaten which isn’t over yet. With a more settled squad we would not have dropped points in some of the matches we’ve drawn.
For now, the biggest annoyance was the idea that Ange might have put our campaign in jeopardy by dropping key players for a must-win game. He didn’t. To be honest, when I saw that Kyogo wasn’t even on the bench I knew that he’d had no option because who would do that who didn’t have to? Even if just for insurance.
His answer satisfied me. It worries me, but it satisfied me. For the moment that’s going to have to do. We move on and start thinking about Perth.