Last week I said that we had to view the remaining nine matches as nine cup finals.
Well, after the defeat against Reading last Friday evening I, like many others, thought that we were a little bit fortunate to still be in sixth place and in the final play off spot with just eight to go.
Who would have had Wolves to win away at Fulham? Fulham have been on an excellent run of late and I couldn’t see them losing at home in the manner they did, but it just shows you how teams can turn things around from game to game. Not only in the Championship but the Premier League, too.
Football has a tendency to throw up the most surprising results, usually at the most unexpected of times; you just have to take a look at this season’s FA Cup for more than one example of that.
We have done it ourselves in the last few weeks. We started with the excellent performance and result against Norwich, and then followed it with the not so excellent results against Burton, Villa and Reading. I really do think that it is all to play for over the next few weeks and wouldn’t be surprised if it went down to the final game of the season. Hopefully it can be sorted before then, though, and if we can come out of the international break with a number of the injured players fit and ready we then need a really big performance against local rivals Barnsley to get us back on track.
It must be extremely frustrating over the last few weeks for Carlos Carvalhal and his staff, especially having to deal with the present injury situation. On one hand I’m sure they don’t want to use the injuries as an excuse, especially if the results aren’t going your way or performances haven’t been great, but on the other hand it has undoubtedly been a major factor in team selection and results.
Any team losing the quality and quantity of players that we have lost would feel the impact. It leaves the manager pretty much in a no win situation in my opinion. The joys of football management, eh?
There seems to have been quite a lot of disgruntlement lately from various quarters regarding performances and with just one win in six, I think this is quite understandable. Results haven’t been great and performances haven’t reached the levels of last season in my opinion. I’m sure the players are aware of this and the frustrating element is that we have shown in patches that we can play some very good teams off the park, but there has been a distinct lack of consistency in our play this season - and no one seems to be able to put a finger on why.
Personally, I have no issue with supporters having their say about performances and results. It's part and parcel of the game and you can’t soak up the plaudits when you are doing well and not expect to feel the heat when you’re not. What I don’t agree with and think is unacceptable are the instances of negative direct messaging of players on social media. To me social media is a minefield.
It has brought players closer to their supporters in some ways and the interaction at times is positive. You could argue that it is a double-edged sword and if players are on social media they have to take the rough with the smooth, and I can’t say I disagree with that opinion, but what I do not understand is what do people think there is to gain from having a go at a player directly?
I understand the frustration of the last few weeks, everyone has their own opinion on what is right and wrong, and again, I understand that most people want to vent it but people have to remember that players aren’t robots. They hurt like the rest of us, a lot of the time if the truth be known even more so, which is contrary to popular belief, but they do. Where social media will end up is beyond my realms of imagination. Some clubs have already banned players from using it, a decision I can understand but not one that sits comfortably with me if I am honest.
Hopefully Carlos and his staff will have a good couple of weeks over the international break, when you have no game at the weekend it can be a bit of an unusual week as you aren’t specifically working towards anything. Sometimes the players are given a couple of days off but with the injured players hopefully coming back into the fold I would imagine they would want the squad training together and building up the camaraderie within the group.
All aiming towards the trip to Barnsley and then a couple of days later at Rotherham, games that if we are to get anything out of the season must be earmarked for a minimum four points.
It’s the pressure part of the season but any player will tell you that these are the games that you look forward to. Fingers crossed!
*Jon Newsome is the owner of prestige, sports and performance cars specialists, Automarques. Unit 1, Old Barracks, Sheffield. S2 4EE. Web: automarques.com. Tweet: @Automarques_com