Looking at some of the comments on Twitter, and in the local paper, I think a certain (minority, I must add) section of the Valley Parade support does need to put Sunday’s disappointing performance into context.
Now while I was unable to watch the game on Sunday (I’m currently doing a degree in Stirling, some 230 miles away from Valley Parade), I have been reliably informed that it was a very poor game in general. Sky Sports News described it as “feisty”, I can imagine several stronger words were used by the 14,000 plus there on Sunday. Without spending the rest of this piece ranting at Darren Drysdale, I can only say that his performance was nothing short of diabolical.
But that doesn’t hide the fact that we lost. Nevertheless, it was our second defeat in eleven games, our first home defeat, and our first defeat in all competitions for six weeks.
So let’s put this game into perspective. We lost to a Tranmere side that came to Valley Parade with a plan, and the plan worked. Fair play to them. But this doesn’t mean that City’s squad is “poor”, or that the team are suddenly no longer play-off quality. We know what this squad can do. Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa prove that this squad can, on their day, beat anyone and everyone. It would be ridiculous to suggest that City should be expected to go the rest of the season unbeaten, we will lose, but then again so will every other team.
It is during times like these, therefore, that we as supporters must support the manager. If, at the start of the season, someone had told me that City would be fourth in the league, four points above 7th place, and with impressive victories against the likes of Sheffield United and Brentford under our belts, I would have told them that they were being wildly optimistic, and perhaps a bit silly. But no, that is the case so far.
Remember, we lost on Sunday with one recognised centre-back playing. For the last 15 minutes or so, we played with no natural centre-backs at all. In addition, we played without our leading goalscorer (and arguably best player), with Mark Yeates playing in a slightly unorthodox position in what was essentially a makeshift formation.
With McArdle and Wells to return soon, and with the likes of Caleb Folan and Matthew Bates slowly picking up fitness and gelling with the rest of the squad, it is harsh to criticise the team for what has essentially been a very impressive start to the season. One defeat does not signal the end of the world, and I have full faith in Phil Parkinson and Steve Parkin to get the team to bounce back from a disappointing performance, and start performing well again in what will be a tricky run of games.