I started writing this article over the weekend, fuelled by another inept performance at home against a side who should have been dispatched if they had been attacked with any sort of conviction.
The events of yesterday have changed the tone slightly of this piece now, but still leaves many thoughts running through my head. Joyce wasn’t the right man for the job after all. I, along with many including those who bring you (the) Podcast, had doubts about his abilities as a manager. Accusations of putting the ‘knife into Joyce’ have abounded but it was only right to question those early performances when things didn’t improve on the pitch.
The biggest issue has been the shockingly bad home form. How many sides have left the DW with three points and you have thought ‘They are a better side than us’? Two, maybe three at the most. Reading and Newcastle spring to mind, and I thought Sheff Wed looked a solid side as well. The rest, even going back to the Other Fella, were beatable with the right attitude to the game. And that comes down to the tactics and the way they were being set up….negatively.
Under Caldwell individual errors were the main problem, conceding avoidable goals . When Caldwell addressed this by trying to make us hard to beat, he sacrificed his principles and negated the attacking threat which had brought the League 1 title only months before.
We will never know if Caldwell would have turned it round, but what has happened since has been a disaster. The players haven’t bought into Joyce and his style of play in any way. 3 wins on the bounce in January hinted at a revival but the defeat at Man Utd, in hindsight, has seen the wheels fall off in spectacular circumstances.
January saw at least 12 new players join the club, and arguably our only main attacking threat left for a princely sum. The club can’t turn down £7m though and it enabled 8 new names to come in on deadline day. But a few of those players haven’t been near the first team squad or have only just made the bench. Players signed with no fitness or game time for months have been brought in to help a side out the relegation zone. I can’t see how that benefits anyone.
When we scored first in a game, we won it under Joyce. It was as simple as that. In all the other games we had to come from behind to nick a point or try to get back in the game. The Million Dollar Question is how would the team have reacted if we had taken the lead in any of those games at home. Those 0-0’s or the 1-0 losses….if we had scored that first goal then it could have been all so different.
Nine games to stay in the Championship then. Barrow to lead the charge, and the cause of the problems if you listen to some. Either way these are the ‘cards we have been dealt’ and it’s now up to the players to show they have the quality and the fight we know they have to preserve another season in this league.