Colin Randall writes: the Wembley and
BustSafe series will now get more controversial. It is possible to rejoice at our salvation, and acclaim the manner in which is was achieved, while considering the season as a whole, with obvious moments of exception, to have been dire. Rob Hutchison did modify his review after the victory over West Brom. I wonder how he’d change it again after joining the London and SE branch of the SAFC Supporters’ Association for the train journey to the final game …
OK, you want a review, you’ve got one.
In 43 years of supporting this shower, predominantly, of s**** I cannot remember a season like this one. There’s probably been one, but I can’t recall it. I’ve seen nine games in the flesh, one win (make than 10 games, still one after the last match – ed), and the thick end of 20 more misery strewn afternoons on a skanky laptop feed. It’s been like stumbling on a steaming hot cow pat, embedded with a few shining £2 coins.
I came away from the Fulham opener concerned, but not overtly so; done by a sucker punch and we couldn’t nick a draw. Never mind. Southampton got us off the mark, we were dominated but they only equalised late on, a decent day in the sun I recall.
After Palace I knew it was gonna be a stinker of a season. Eleven players, all a disgrace to wear the shirt. Wickham and JoS could have disappeared and never returned after this debacle. I hate Selhurst with a passion at the best of times, horrid ground, horrid area, horrid fans (although I doff my cap to their passion in the 2nd half of the campaign), nothing redeeming at all that day. God we were awful.
And so it went on. The new signings all looked hopeless, disorganised, ill disciplined. You name it, we were it. And we had a manager who initially excited me and now resembled that irritating attention-grabbing sod in the playground. He knew the players were not up to it, but rather than trying to pick out the grubby gems and polish them, it was the much-heralded root and branch reform, my way or the f****** highway lads and don’t you forget it. West Brom was Defcon 1 where, after the spanking, he was more bothered about Paolo that anything else.
Standing 15 yards from me telling me to keep my chin up. “That’s a side going down,” I told Olivia on our way out, utter utter chaos reigned.
The players kicked him out. They also kicked out Pieface and O’Neill if we’re honest. Player power ruled again although by now we were all glad to see the back of the madman. I’d have taken anybody apart from JFK at this point when Poyet was appointed, but I did recall being at Brighton where he beat us in the cup and passed us off the park, so at least there was a glimmer of light from under the U-bend. And so the rollercoaster really started. Derby wins, a cup run and yet still no consistency.
It was pretty obvious from Poyet’s selections that most of mad Paolo’s signings were rubbish and survival would be a momentous achievement. My next game was West Ham, and whilst we were still rubbish a 0-0 draw showed how Poyet was trying to get us to play. Seeds were being sown. Cardiff was dirge but for the last 10 minutes which felt like a victory when we salvaged a 2-2 draw. #taxifortan please.
The cup games showed that we could play at times, momentous wins over Southampton, Chelsea and Man U set up Wembley and although we were beaten, it was nearly the highlight of my season. After the Hull defeat the maggots came out of the rotting flesh and had a feast on the carcass at the likes of Norwich and Spurs, games as bad as I can ever remember watching. Pinch me, it was that bad. We lay on our backs with our legs in the air.
And then it started; the second coming of Wickham, tearing you apart since April 2014. Man City kapow! Chelsea splat! Man Utd boosh! Before you know it, we’re nearly safe, aye, nearly safe man. Incredible, utterly incredible. Standing at the Bridge at full time was the best moment of the season for me. That’s why I love this club. If only I could bottle that, I’d make a million.
You can spout stats till they pour out of your backside, but I defy anyone to find rhyme or reason for this season.
The fact players have been unable to perform for more than a few games for any manager in years speaks volumes. Paolo’s much vaunted clear-out is still required, but in a structured manner. How the club allowed us to get in a situation with so many out of contract in one go is beyond me. Some loans have helped to save us, Borini, Alonso and Ki at times have been crucial players. Some of the old guard have found form, many of them in the last few games and for those few games fair play to them. We know who they are. Some players have been just a total waste of money. Lack of consistency has been the killer and only Gus can sort that out.
So a bit of a mixed school report I guess. I think most of us would have settled for mid-ish table after last season but the manner of getting there has been nothing short of shocking, It’s all been that steaming cow pat I spoke of earlier, but the £2 coins that glimmer out of it, well they were special. Double Derby delight, taking Man City, Chelsea and Man U to name but a few to task, the magnificent day out that was Wembley, and the greatest escape the Premier League has ever seen. There’s not been too many of those in my lifetime.
There’s been one consistent shining light for the whole season, solid, reliable, a class apart, delivering week in week out. You lot, the fans. Without you, we would have been dead and buried.