Derby Day Misery
A few thoughts on the debacle that was our derby day

What a mess that was. All my fears came into reality. I feared that Carlos would take his usual laid back approach – treat it like a normal game; my arse, as Jim Royle would have said. Wilder knows it’s not a normal game. I knew he would have them up for it and they were.  I feared we would produce another one of our slow starts, and we did. I feared we would give soft goals away, and we did. I feared that Westwood’s poor season (by his standards) would continue. I feared Tom Lees would be like the rabbit he can be without Loovens at his side and he was. I feared Van Aken would get exposed in the freneticism of an English derby game and he did. The pair of them were bullied by Leon Clarke, yes Leon Clarke, who was made to look a world beater! I feared we would be outfought by a team who simply wanted it more and we were. Wilder knows that we don’t run in behind the back four so they had nothing to fear, he knows we will play it ponderously across midfield as a result, and then you have to wait to pick it off. He knows the FB’s leave enormous spaces in behind so just pick it off in midfield and hit the spaces on the break – easy peasy.

 What I didn’t anticipate was that experienced professionals would just wilt in the heat of a derby. Reach had a shocker. Jones, Bannan and Lee were anonymous. Fletcher got bullied. The only players to come out of it with any credit were Hooper and Joao. How can the players not take energy from 30,000 fans cheering them on? How is it, we are told by Carlos, that they were nervous after conceding an early goal? That was akin to his excuse about them being over-excited at Preston! Carlos, his staff and the players should be ashamed of themselves for that embarrassing performance; they owe every single fan a public apology for it. And whatever he says in public to protect his players in private he should be laying into them. And DC into him!

The reality for me though is that it isn’t just that game. This season we’ve had just not at it performances at Preston and Bolton. We’ve had poor starts against Sunderland, QPR and Brentford. We’ve had the concession of soft goals. We’ve played well for 15 minutes and then stopped. What we managed to do in the derby was perm all of that together in one game – in the one game that matters most. Carlos and DC + advisers have assembled a group of good individuals by spending (and wasting) a fair bit of money whilst Wilder has built a team with an identity and an attitude with a lot less money. What’s annoying is that they can do it. As bad as we were, for the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half we had them on the back foot but we simply couldn’t and can’t sustain the drive and energy it takes to do it.

Readers of this site know that I would have sacked Carlos before now but I am not going to repeat that call right now, although I suspect more are coming round to that way of thinking. For me the next 2 games are absolutely critical – we have to get 4 points from across the Brum and Leeds games minimum before the international break. If we don’t I think Mr Chansiri has some thinking to do. Our 150th anniversary celebration has not gone well so far, there is a danger it might go totally flat if we don’t get our collective fingers out.

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