“Stockdale probably should have stopped 2 of the 3 Cardiff goals, but is there any need for the messages sent to him regarding his body weight? David Seaman wasn’t always stick-thin and just Google an image of Neville Southall for God’s sake!”
I thought we might have gotten something from the Cardiff game, I really did. We turned them over at our place and although we lost to Boro, we were riding a wave of positive vibes and renewed determination since Garry Monk’s arrival. However, a lot has happened in the 5 months between Cotterill’s first week in charge and Monk’s and perhaps the iceberg of our demise that we should have seen coming after last season has hit us harder than we first hoped. Now our lifeboats are sinking one by one and we have so little time left to make repairs that we just feel like we’re treading water until the inevitable drop occurs. (BCFCfollowers.com; come for the opinions, stay for the metaphors!)
Crowbarred-in analogies aside, did we as fans REALLY expect to come away with the full 3 points against Boro or Cardiff? A fair few of us may have tried to remain optimistic but we hold our respective positions in the Championship table for a reason. It’s fair to say that although we lost on Tuesday, we came a very close second and put up a much stronger fight than we had any right to. As for the Bluebirds, well they’re flying high at the moment and have been for some time. Them in the Black Countraaaay have had their lead at the top slashed to just 3 points with Cardiff swiftly gaining on them. Is it any wonder they stormed off to a three goal lead in the first half?
So, we’re all in agreement that it would have been silly to expect too much from Garry’s first two games in charge, yes? Than why have some fans resorted to scapegoating? Why did I resort to scapegoating on Twitter straight after the game? Because we need someone to blame I guess. Last season it seemed Jonathan Grounds was the go to lamb for slaughtering. Oh, how we’ve missed him since the beginning of February though.
Early this season it was club captain Michael Morrison’s turn to take the blame. Then once Marc Roberts took his place on the pitch, he also took over the role of club blamey, with fans suddenly claiming that the aforementioned Morrison should never have been dropped…
Now I’m not saying EVERY fan has pinned losses to these players, but a very vocal, internet-active percentage certainly has. I’m also not for one second claiming that the boys should be above criticism, far from it. My stance is and always has been that this criticism should be constructive though and sending abusive direct messages to players, much like those received by Harlee Dean, is crossing a line.
The chosen scapegoat for Saturday was Mr. Stockdale. We conceded 3 pretty soft goals and David should really have saved the first and third of these. The questions that seems to have gone largely unasked by these witch hunters though is, “why were they allowed to shoot?”, “where was the defence?” and in the case of the second goal “why did 4 players just watch the ball casually roll past them?!”
Dutch Mike hopped on the spot with his arms behind his back for the first goal and ducked out of a clearing header for the third. Big Sam lost his man, allowing a tap in for the second. Gardner left Jota outnumbered by failing to close down the supporting Joe Bennett who picked up his third assist of the day. It took an entire first half for us to realise how dangerous Bennett can be and by this time it was too late, yet the majority of criticism has still been aimed at Stockdale.
Football is a team game and as such, the boys should be held accountable as one unit. A goalkeeper is only as good as his back four allow him to be. A striker is only as good as the cross that’s sailed over to him. A midfielder can only pick a pass if there’s a man open for him. The best teams may carry the odd poor performing player in a game, but they back each other and chase a result together. Everyone makes mistakes but the real measure of a team is how they cover for each other.
Stockdale probably should have stopped 2 of the 3 Cardiff goals, but is there any need for the messages sent to him regarding his body weight? He wasn’t exactly super skinny at Brighton either but we’re not asking him to run the Birmingham Marathon. David Seaman wasn’t always stick-thin and just Google an image of Neville Southall for God’s sake! Are some fans really that petty that they’re going to make this personal?
The team got us into this mess (with a helping hand from those around them) now it’s the team that will have to get us out of it. Unless Monk can snap up some free transfers, he has the same squad to choose from as his predecessors. When times are tough, nothing goes your way and mistakes become more devastating. Monk’s first priority must be to get the lads playing as a unit and playing for each other. Yes, they need to perform for the fans too, but unless they work as a cohesive unit and learn to row for each other, then we may as well sink the lifeboats ourselves.
David Stockdale is a great keeper and makes some absolute wonder saves but he is low on confidence and out of form. We have two options; either replace him for Tommy K who hasn’t seen a competitive first team match since November or get the coaching staff to work with David and his defence in an attempt to stop the sloppiness. I personally think the latter would be easier and more beneficial. Soft goals conceded and an inability to find the net ourselves has been the story of our season. Garry has already made us a more attacking, challenging side in the opposition half. We need to tighten up at the back as we go into a run of 4 massive, winnable games. Then maybe next week we can single out a player for all the right reasons instead.
By Mark Watson