This is the End

12 Apr

Saturday 5th April 2014

Nottingham Forest           1.2      Millwall                   

(Paterson)                                            (Malone, Martin)

Sunday 6th April

Roda JC Kerk                       2.2      AZ Alkmaar

(Powel, Hupperts)                                (Henriksen, Johannsson)

Tuesday 8th April 2014

Nottingham Forest           3.3      Sheffield Wednesday     

(Mackie, Tudgay, Paterson)             (Maguire, Buxton, Mattock)

Saturday 12th April 2014

Queens Park Rangers      5.2      Nottingham Forest

(Benayoun, Hoilett, Onuoha,           (Lascelles, Derbyshire)

Morrison, Zamora)

Football. Football. Football.

For the last week I have genuinely been eating, living and breathing football as I took a group of girls and boys on a football tour around South Holland. Prior to my departure, I wistfully wondered aloud whether I would come back to a situation which saw us collecting 6 points from two eminently winnable home games as we rode the crest of a wave of optimism.

We didn’t. And this season is all over bar the shouting now as we traipse off the Loftus Road turf dejectedly having been served a hammering from a very average team.

There seems little point documenting the ins, outs, frustrations and scapegoats from these last three games. At times, we look like we played half decent and have managed to score some goals but on the other hand…well…it’s not been good. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors and on the training pitch but from my rather simplistic viewpoint, it seems as if there are some serious falling outs going on behind the scenes. I deduce this not from scurrilous rumours on the interweb but from the player’s body language and unusual team selections. Ho hum. I guess it was ever thus at any football club.

If there are any positive points to be earnestly salvaged from the last week then they are that Mr Pearce has got a very clear idea as to what is required. The media has not lost an opportunity to denounce Stuart Pearce for not taking over immediately but I happen to think it’s a very shrewd decision on his part: he can sit back and observe without any pressure and has more to lose by taking over now and pricking that bubble of excitement. Paterson continues to look a very promising player and we are starting to get key players back on the pitch so that they will be ready for a full pre-season. Wilson looked composed today, especially given who he is sharing his defensive duties with and Lansbury looks like his usual bustling self (albeit a little less fitter).

Negatives…how long have you got?

Didn’t think so. Let’s leave it there then.

While in Holland, we took the opportunity to see a Eredivisie game between bottom of the table Roda and Europa League quarter finalists AZ. Roda HAD to win to maintain a slim chance of staying up whilst AZ had their minds on Europe in more ways than one: their quarter final against Benfica was looming (which they subsequently lost) and they needed to maintain their 7th position in the league to qualify again. The Roda fans were up for it and created a show of unity on kick-off:

Roda fans

The away support from AZ was disappointing to say the least: around 25 fans were counted. Admittedly, Alkmaar is right at the very top of Holland we were right at the very bottom (travelling time would be around 3 and a half hours) but they may well have actually come on a skateboard. Furthermore, half time saw 11 AZ youngsters take part in a penalty shoot-out and it is fair to say that a high proportion of these travelling fans might well have been composed of their parents. I suspect that Carlisle would take at least that amount to Torquay on a cold winter evening. AZ fans – take a long, hard look at yourselves.

AZ fans

Or maybe this just goes to show how mental and weird the whole away travel thing is amongst us English fans who regularly take note of how many our rivals took to a comparable away game.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of this game was the constant theatrics from both sets of players who took every opportunity to slow the game down and punch the floor in supposed pain at any contact from an opposition player. The quality wasn’t all that either and although both teams avoided lumping it long and always played out from the back, it was pedestrian in pace and lacking in quality. It is always difficult to compare but even we might give Roda a decent game.

A draw leaves Roda almost certainly doomed and AZ really should have converted at least one of the two excellent chances they crafted in stoppage time. Roda looked utterly devoid of confidence but at least they kept fighting till the end and played for each other.

If only this were true of all football teams.

 

 

 

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