Friday, 6 September 2013

Frustration and conspiracy

ON Tuesday, as I had no commentary duties, I took the opportunity to watch from my more traditional vantage point, the Paddock.
I lasted 15 minutes before deciding to move as I was utterly fed up with the abuse being thrown at our players, by our fans.
In that time, Jason Taylor, Sam Deering, Byron Harrison and Ashley Vincent had been thoroughly slagged off by certain individuals, as had the injured CBB, by someone who seriously asked his mate if he thought we could tempt Jamie Victory out of retirement. I kid you not.
In the past, I have had a go at people when I have become fed up with their tirades against players, but on this occasion I opted just to turn heel and make for the main stand to watch the rest of the game.
Now, I know what the argument will be ... it's that usual mantra "I pay their wages, so I am allowed to say what I want".
Fine. But, for example, if you saw them shopping in Tesco, or walking in Pittville Park with their wife/girlfriend, would you greet them with something like 'Oi (name of player), you are a lazy f***ing c**t' or 'hey (name), why can't you cross a f***ing ball, you useless pile of s**t' ??
Of course you wouldn't, or I hope not anyway.
In the same way, I pay my council tax, so I must therefore contribute to a dustman's wages, but I don't give him a tirade of abuse if I don't like the way he wheels my green bin towards his dustcart...
I fail to see what the motivation is to hurl abuse at players you claim to support. How does it motivate them? Here, the perpetrators' defence is 'they need a kick up the arse, so I am giving it to them.'
I get as frustrated as anyone when players mis-control a ball, give the ball away or miss a chance, but I don't get the urge to yell abuse at them. I prefer to encourage, along the lines of  'chin up, keep going', something along those lines - and be constructive, as I try to do in this blog and on the radio.
There is a massive difference between constructive criticism and abuse. Abusing your own players is even more brainless in my view when your team is not firing as it maybe should be, like ours at the moment.
Confidence is low, so the players need to have that reassurance that the fans are behind them, that the fans believe in them, and that they want them to succeed.
It isn't always that way though. At Bury on Saturday, I had my first 'Yates out' text. I was a bit stunned, as my own view is that things would have to be pretty rough in December for any thoughts like that to even enter the board's minds.
Expectations are high, and so when they are not being met, frustrations rise - but I feel at the moment things are going too far in the 'negative' direction and everything surrounding the club is being magnified and scrutinised 10 times more than it would be if we were on a good run of form.
For example, Russ Penn's comments after Bury about 'angry exchanges' in the dressing room post-match quickly became 'a full-scale fight', 'a split' or 'serious unrest' depending on what Nest thread or which tweets you read.
My view is that I am pleased they were cross and had a shout and rant at each other. It shows they care. If they were laughing and joking, then I would be angry with everyone else. It would be a shame if players felt they could not talk freely to the media.
Then there was a tweet from Russ the other day, in which he called Scott Brown 'skip'. Straight away, one or two tweets flew around saying Russ had been axed/stripped/resigned as skipper!
Nonsense of course - it was banter as Browny had taken the armband on Tuesday when Russ went off.... but that is the danger of Twitter.
It would be a shame of the players felt they couldn't have this interaction with the fans without everything they say being misconstrued or analysed to the 'n'-th degree.
Next, I saw a post somewhere which said the players 'didn't look happy on the bus to Accrington or Bury, so things must be wrong.' Good grief. I wouldn't be happy if I was faced with a bus ride up the M6...!
Then there is the manager. There is now all of a sudden a lot of criticism of his Pro-Licence visit to Turkey in the summer - now dismissed widely as 'a jolly'. Wouldn't happen if we were winning.
His interview demeanour gets flak. I have been there after practically every game for four years - it rarely changes after a win or a loss! Do people want him wearing a red nose or clown's wig, and cracking jokes if we have lost a game? Wouldn't happen if we were winning.
But we are not, although Tuesday did bring plenty of positives, I felt.
It started like Groundhog Day - 1-0 up, then 2-1 down in the blink of an eye, the first a goal kick, flicked on and lobbed in, the second a cross into our box (shock...) and put in at the second attempt.
It was hardly a surprise, with three defenders injured, that we conceded some poor goals, and we let in another with a header in the second half from a free-kick swung into our box.
Continuing the theme of this blog, some fans weren't so understanding. One wrote how 'we conceded three goals to 10 men'. Give me strength. If you are going to criticise, at least be accurate.
I know - I should grow a thicker skin, and let it all wash over me. But I hate the negativity. It is so draining and pointless, does no one any good, and just hangs over the club like a raincloud.
So that's why from 3-1 down I was delighted to see us show a bit of backbone and haul ourselves back into the game - and arguably we should have won it.
We had our first look at David Noble, and he wasted one pass in 45 minutes, kept it simple and allowed Deering to go forward more, which he did to good effect.
Vincent and Zack Kotwica on the flansk gave us balance and we took the game to Plymouth, with Vincent's great touch to Steve Gillespie bringing the penalty.
That reduced Plymouth to 10, but they kept two banks of four and sat back as we pressed well and, I thought, looked as dangerous going forward as we had in any game - it was Crawley all over again.
Taylor equalised, and then we should ahve won the game - led by the introduction of Jermaine McGlashan, who sent across three or four superb crosses which should have been converted.
Harrison was denied by a good save for the best opportunity - or he missed a sitter, depending on your viewpoint. I give credit to Jake Cole, in the same way I praise Scott Brown for coming off his line to thwart Marvin Morgan, rather than castigating Morgan...
Once it got to a shoot-out, it was a lottery, and there is no blame on Terry Gornell - in fact in some ways I am pleased we are out, as we can concentrate on sorting out the League form - until the FA Cup comes round anyway.
It doesn't get any easier though, with Portsmouth tomorrow. Personally, I would take any sort of result which doesn't involve us being 3-1 down at some point. After Crawley, Plymouth (twice) and Bury, I have had a gutful of that...!
So what team would I play? I would like to see us go back to the system which served us well two seasons ago, three in midfield and two wide men playing off a central striker.
I believe we have the players to do it, and I think we need to show that bit of adventure and go for it.
There are two questions - after his very bright display on Tuesday, do we start Kotwica, and what about Jamie Cureton - do we throw him straight back in?
My answers are yes to the first, no to the second. My team tomorrow (assuming fitness of some players) would be: Brown; Lowe, Elliott, Inniss, Jombati; Noble, Penn, Richards (otherwise Taylor); Kotwica, Gillespie, Gornell.
Harsh on Deering and McGlashan I know after their second half displays on Tuesday - but they can impact from the bench of needed, as could Cureton.
I just feel we need to be careful with him and ease him back in gently. Gillespie's two goals in midweek seal his place in my opinion, while I am a big fan of Gornell's work-rate and creativity.
Let's hope we are all smiling tomorrow evening - including the manager when that microphone is put under his nose at around 5pm...