Concentrate On The League

Friday, 24 November 2000, 0:01
2 mins read

Unfortunately, most of those foolish enough to keep returning to the Vetch this season for further punishment, will be all too aware that it will take a lot more than greater concentration to get us out of the mess that we are in – a bit of passion and pride for a start.

The blame for our recent league form has fallen squarely on the shoulders of a certain John Hollins. Or should that be an uncertain John Hollins, seen as Mike Lewis is reportedly doing his best to line up a replacement as we speak (let’s just hope that Kevin Cullis is unavailable).

Personally, I find it hard to stomach that one man can be held responsible for such general ineptitude from a team of so-called professionals. The manager likes to protect his players, JH is always keen to point out that it is he who should get the blame when we lose, seen as it is he who will be applauded when we win. All very commendable, but hasn’t the time come for a public condemnation of those players who right now are simply not earning their wages?

Nobody who has travelled 200 miles to stand in the rain and watch a heartless, uncoordinated display of football, wants to hear excuses. A bit of honesty would obviously not silence the Hollins Out brigade, but it would at least ease slightly the minds of those who are depressed (no, make that terrified) at the thought of instant relegation. As for this season’s debacle, most fans started off by sitting on the fence, waiting for the manager to walk into the post match interview and lay into his lacklustre players.

At least then we could feel more comfortable in criticising those players, safe in the knowledge that the gaffer is just as infuriated by their lack of a commitment as we are. But no, John Hollins insists on being the only target and we are left sitting on that fence.

Incidentally, it is not a particularly comfortable place to sit – not surprisingly, many have already got fed up and taken the far easier option of jumping on the manager instead. It’s not as if anyone at the club can complain at a lack of support from the terraces – despite watching a standard of football that from a skill point of view ranks below that of an alcoholic tightrope walker (and is less entertaining), the attendance table shows Swansea City’s fans in the top five this season, even though the players that they are turning up to watch are at the other end of the table.

That good old pub game “Think how good we’d be if we signed a striker” can no longer be played, so that kind of removes the easy targets (the manager and the owners) who previously could be blamed for a lack of additions to the squad.

Unfortunately, nor can people now stare into their pint and complain that “we have a solid defence but we just aren’t good to watch”, because now we are leaking goals and are even worse to watch. So it’s all down to the defenders then? No, that’s hardly fair, it’s likely that this is just a bad patch from our supreme back five, a slump that had to happen at some point.

It has long been pointed out that the team’s attacking frailties have always been there, it’s just that a team that doesn’t concede goals doesn’t have to worry about scoring too many. The fact is that there are just too many people to blame, from the Norwich/Arsenal supporting chairman who ousted his local predecessor, to the players who are underachieving week in, week out.

John Hollins is an extremely easy person to blame and so he gets the wrath of the fans. After all, if you’re going to pick a fight with someone, you don’t choose the six foot tall guy with a broken nose and a skull and crossbones tattooed on his forehead, much better to aim for the one who’s very nice and polite and says “hit me but just don’t hit my friends”.

So, you can hit him all you want – it won’t achieve a great deal and gets distinctly boring after a while, but hey, at least you had somebody to hit.

Images courtesy of Getty Images, Athena Picture Agency and Swansea City Football Club.
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