When Pete Sixsmith says we now need 10 points from the next four games, and even then only if we cannot quite manage 12, images of porcine creatures in flight might occur to many of those who were at the Britannia and Stamford Bridge. But hey, it cannot get any worse, can it?
Harold Wilson, Labour Prime Minister in the 60s and 70s (and the man who opened Shildon Civic Hall), famously said “a week is a long time in politics”. As a football man who could recite Huddersfield Town’s 1938 FA Cup Final team by heart, he might have added that the aforementioned seven days is a bloody lifetime in football.
There we were, last Sunday, basking in a derby victory and looking to a golden future under Keane, with Cisse rattling the goals in and Collins stopping the opposition from bothering our goalkeeper with a header here and a tackle there.
Then, we run into an ambush at the Britannia Stadium, where Long Throw Rory and his band of 6ft outlaws undoes us, and the manager decides that the players who have taken us to the heady heights of ninth are flawed.
So, we go into our first big away test with two forwards recovering from injury, a changed back four and a bench containing two 18-year-olds, one of whom (David Meyler) was playing League of Ireland reserve football three months ago.
No surprise then to lose. But to lose 5-0, have no shots on target and claim a mere 32 per cent of possession is hardly a satisfactory outcome.
Now we find ourselves sliding down the table and in the unbelievable position of being overtaken by the Mags if they scrape a win over Villa on Monday night. What would Harold make of that? Talk about a reversal of fortune!!
I didn’t get to Stamford Bridge on Saturday (Whitehaven v North Shields if you must know) so I am basing my views on a combination of texts, Radio 5 reports and Match of the Day. None was complimentary.
“2-0 down” from John Penman, followed by “It’s 5 now” and “Thought we had left these days behind” from Joan Dawson. Doug Forrest, who was there, described it as “dire”, while Colin, watching in Abu Dhabi, used the word “embarrassing”.
Jonathan Ledgard , on 5 Live dismissed us as being “out of our depth” while Lineker’s comment of “totally outclassed” on MotD seemed a fair assessment. I didn’t bother to see what King Creosote had to say, and stomped off up to bed, attempting to kick the cat as I went. Like our attackers, I proved to be woefully inefficient at this and the redoubtable Samson lives to scratch another day.
I am puzzled at Roy’s reaction to Stoke. Yes we played badly, yes we made mistakes but did we need such a heavy and, some would say, over-the-top response from the manager? There are rumours of a bust up between Keane and Whitehead and there is a little shiver running down my spine that warns me that maybe all in the garden is not as rosy as we thought.
In the next batch of four games, all are winnable. It could be that by the end of November we will be clinging on to the coat tails of Aston Villa and Manchester City instead of looking to see how Bolton and the Baggies have got on at the wrong end of the table.
Harold Wilson was a weak and indecisive politician who had a tendency to agree with the last person he spoke to. That’s not Roy Keane’s style and I am sure that he will be a more successful football manager than Wilson was a Prime Minister.
We just don’t want any more weeks like this.