By Martin Blanc
This season we've had an interactive simulation of the last five minutes of a game, and an entire match preview in German. So here's a match report partly in Esperanto - like football itself, a universal language. So that no-one who reads it, in no matter which corner of the globe (and believe me, I'd swap places with any of you, from Elton in Nice to the many US Hornets still MIA in 'Nam), can remain unaware of precisely what this match contained.
Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Stockport goal. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Half-time. Booooooooo.
During the interval, we reflected on how this was a reprise of the Huddersfield performance, but marginally worse all round. We couldn't win a ball, didn't in fact look like we wanted to win it; when we had it we didn't want to keep it, but we couldn't find another team member with it, or else we were caught in possession, although not as often as recently, since Stockport were by and large rubbish, and only being made to look good, and to look hungry, by us.
Second half: two substitutions, which had been needed since about the thirtieth minute, and which promised to at least keep the ball on the ground, and under the control of a Watford player. However:
Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. In the fiftieth minute, an amazing physical sensation - I had the overpowering urge to leave. I had to stop myself standing up. No, we're never going to score, but sit it out. Okay, fought it off. To continue: Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Sixty-fourth minute: the same overpowering urge to go and do something useful with the rest of the afternoon. Hang about - I'll give it until the eightieth minute. All right, fine. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Arse. Booooooooo. Then Wooter takes off down the right flank, knocks an idyllic cross into the six yard box, where Tommy Mooney bangs it into the net. This time I got to my feet but was past euphoria. Past enjoyment. A minute later, a super-sweet Kennedy free kick (the only thing he did all game, but that's bearable), and Nielsen at the back post. Now this is more like it. Now - why only now for pity's sake? Or else when there's only nine of us on the pitch? - we look like we want it.
I'm a supporter. I don't relish writing this. But I also don't relish the manager being prepared to live with conceding rank bollox goals as long as we're scoring - even if it's a bit of kidology trying to take pressure off his players. I try to run a professional business, I slave away to pull in the pennies. What would it look like to the people I work with, or to my competitors, if I say, "You know what? It's fine that I f*** up every so often, lose contracts that by rights were mine, just as long as I get a few things right". What, is that realistic? Is that settling for a reasonable compromise? What happened to "Aim for the stars and you might reach the moon." If I choose to subscribe more to that dictum, then surely this isn't the team for me.
I wasn't the only one yelling "And another one" after Nielsen's header. We were always going to need it, because right now we couldn't defend a one-goal lead if our lives depended on it. Which of course they don't. And why don't they? Performance-related pay is inflicted on far, far worthier employees of the world than footballers. But that's just the way of the world. Just because the team seems to mean more to us than it does to the players, doesn't mean we can do anything about it. Supporters just have to lump it. But the manager doesn't. If this is how much they care, why should GT stick around beyond the end of this season? Especially if we get what we currently deserve, and miss out on the play-offs. Why should he stick around past next Friday, when for all we know the team might raise its game and clobber Birmingham - but if they don't, why doesn't he give them the wake-up call of a resignation? Nothing else would seem to be capable of working.
And frankly, despite last Tuesday's black farce, what I'd love to see in the next home programme on the Captain's Notes page is a base apology from Page for everything he did in this game. He didn't win a single ball in the air, his communication with his back line was apparently non-existent. The rest of them followed his lead, although only by example, and only on a player-by-player basis, because there was no cohesion from start to finish. Robinson, who defended best with his back to the ball, was directly responsible for the lead-ups to both Stockport goals. Ward was as ineffective in the air as his captain, and only in the last quarter of the game showed any interest in keeping it on the ground at his feet. Cox was, of course (!), far better going forward, especially once the formation had changed to allow him a constant midfield role. And, sure, GT says we can't claim superiority from the stands because you have to make instant decisions in split-seconds down on the pitch. Couldn't agree more, but our blessed captain, whose bad run recently has been (a) unfortunate; (b) uncharacteristic; (c) unbearable; (d) unable to dislodge him from the teamsheet; (e) all of the above (delete as applicable, depending on your p.o.v.), ought to look long and hard at what's prompting each and every decision he makes.
So we had ten minutes of marginal arse, a few more good pushes forward, but really all these did was leave the defence over-exposed at the halfway line. Then Page surpassed Robinson, surpassed himself - two-all - and I couldn't give a f*** what happened after that.
They didn't beat Stockport, but they beat me. Page hangs his head in shame - big deal. I didn't see where Robbo ran to hide. GT is right to question their attitudes, and is realistic about the need for new players. Good. I'm plain insulted by this lot. In the old days, when we were good we were good. And when we were bad we were bad. But now when we could be good, we're worse, and that's just too much to bear. Sayonara. It shouldn't be a surprise, and it won't matter in the least to anyone, but you won't be hearing from me again. I just can't be arsed.