Let's Stick With It
We need to do our bit in the relegation struggle

In his struggles in the Italy of the 1930’s the writer and activist Antonio Gramsci described the need for “pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will”. That just about sums up what I feel as a Wednesdayite right now. Given the shambles that the club has been this season – well described by Paul in his last piece on here – it is right to be intellectually pessimistic about how we got here, we are right to ask who did what, where and when, and what needs to be done to sort it? But, however deep the difficulties are right now they won’t be resolved or made better by being relegated to League One – they will only get worse. We therefore have to be optimistic in our will to support the team and the manager to achieve the goal of staying in the championship. We all know it will clearly not be easy though.

The gig at Hillsborough is a pretty difficult one at the moment and it would be for even an experienced championship manager, for one who is new to the league it is doubly hard. He is having to utilise players who otherwise might not even be on the bench, who are also low on confidence, and he is attempting to blend in some youth whilst trying to find a winning formula in what must be the most unrelenting and competitive league in the football world. Whilst seeking to do all that he also has to deal with questions about whether players contracts are limiting their ability to play games etc; the hierarchy seem to be incapable of picking up on rumours/stories such as that and dealing with them up front – hasn’t Jos got enough to do, and don’t we employ people to manage communications? If yes, could they please deal with stuff like this? I listened to Jos’s press conference today, he did  respond calmly to Rob Staton’s right and probing questions about the task that faces him, but I did feel a little bit sorry for him.

I do understand the criticisms that I have heard from some fans about what is perceived to be a negative approach from Jos – too much 5-3-2 or 5-4-1, and also that he is trying to put square pegs in round holes eg Wallace and Reach in central midfield. On the other hand he has only had 5 league games to assess players and what is needed, and even during that time he has lost players from the meagre resources to even more injuries and suspensions. He has not been allowed to bring in fresh legs to freshen things up and he couldn’t sell to fund signings as there are very few fit saleable players! But, had we taken the chances we created against Cardiff and not committed such basic errors against Birmingham we could have been 10/11 points clear of the bottom 3 and feeling a good bit more relaxed about our league position. And credit to him for switching shape during games and for tearing down the wall that previously existed between the under 23 set up and that of the first team – young players now feel they might at least get a chance. I accept that the Barnsley game was a bit of a slog going forward but we did look better when he switched it to 4-2-3-1 and put Jack Stobbs out wide. I hope that we can pull off the few wins we need but if we have to draw ourselves to safety and it works I will settle for that, it won’t be pretty or entertaining but survival battles often aren’t – we just need those points. And one other point to make; in his first 5 league games Jos has won more points than Carlos did in his last 5 games as Head Coach!

Normally you would be looking for 52 points to guarantee safety and 50 to probably deliver it. This season I reckon 48 might do it – that would require the current 3rd bottom side to pick up 20 points from 15 games after picking up 28 from 31 so far, that's possible but might not be probable. If 48 is the target then we need 4 wins and 2 draws from 15 games (or 14 draws!) – the quicker we can achieve that the better.

It struck me the other day that the situation we are in is not new either. First this is our default mode and it is how we Wednesdayites are meant suffer isn’t it? But also I remember when Meggo was appointed in the 2010/11 season to clear up the problems inherited from Alan Irivine; we were becalmed in mid-table and Meggo had 20 games left too to try to make an impact. He struggled a bit as well, our record was W6 D5 L9 and 4 of the 6 wins came in the last 8 games when we W4 D2 L2 - we finished 16th in League One. Before those last 8 games there had been some truly awful performances, I remember one in particular at Tranmere where we fell to a miserable defeat. The following summer Meggo changed the squad round, instilled some new belief, raised fitness levels and we were then much more competitive with his ground work contributing to that famous 2011/12 promotion season. It is to be hoped that this season could be something like that with Jos having to work hard make us competitive this season but making a big difference in the next. There you go, optimism of the will in practice!

Some final watchwords for Wednesdayites; “live life without illusions while not becoming disillusioned” another one from Gramsci! Let’s all take lots of positive thoughts to games at Hillsborough.

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