I don’t go to every Albion game (braces self for allegations of being a ‘plastic’ with no right to venture an opinion) but I go to a fair amount. And I think I’ve just witnessed the worst (or certainly one of the worst) performances that I’ve seen for 3 or 4 seasons (for the record, losing to Watford 2-0).
Yes I’m irritated, disappointed, annoyed even. But I’m not going to throw my toys out of the pram.
That’s not because I’m leaning on the old ‘look how far we’ve come from Gillingham’ argument. That’s a compelling argument and always a reason for perspective. But to be fair, it’s not an argument the club rely on when things go a little awry. The club talks openly about being ‘Premier League Ready’. To be PLR, we can’t always fall back on the ‘look how far’ argument, because if we do, we won’t get to the Promised Land (whether or not it is the promised land is of course open for debate).
The reason I’m not going to throw my toys out of the pram, is because I think we’re merely hitting a bit of a bump in the road. I don’t mean the bump came today at Watford, I think the bump is this season.
Think of everything we’re encountering during season 2013/14:
the post-play-off hangover took us many months to get rid of.
the Amex honeymoon is over and home game atmosphere is lacking a bit.
like it or not (I like it), the board wants to comply with Financial Fair Play.
like it or not (I don’t like it), we’re missing Gus.
a new, young, foreign manager needing to acclimatise in a variety of ways.
competition for places means we’ve had to off-load good squad players before they fall out of contract, even though we’ve not been able to replace them.
a mini-injury crisis.
heightened supporter expectations after we probably beat most realistic expectations last season.
This was always going to be a consolidate and move on season. We’re not setting the league on fire, but we’re okay, hanging in around the play-off places despite a very lukewarm season. In some ways it would be better if we weren’t close to play-off contention as it would help re-align possibly unrealistic expectations of what might be possible this season.
Today at Watford was a microcosm of our season – not quite good enough and lacking the fire in the belly of the Poyet years.
Yes, today was a lacklustre performance and it does annoy me that we didn’t seem to ‘want’ it. But I’m not going to throw my toys out of the pram today. We have to be more patient than that, but at the same time we need to be ambitious enough not to look back where we’ve come from. It’s about looking forward, where Messrs Bloom and Barber want to get us to. I have faith in Bloom’s vision and trust that we will get there, this season is just our biggest bump in the road for a few seasons. There may be more bumps ahead.
As fans, we need to help the club navigate them, rather than carry out too many post-mortems as we hit those bumps between now and May. I think this tweet from @NorthStandChat is a good reality check on where we are.
Our visit to Vicarage Road in February 2014 won’t ever be one that stays at the front of the memory banks, but we may well need to take a few more of these on the chin until as fans we genuinely believe we are Premier League Ready.
Only then should we toy throw when things don’t go our way.