Despondent: (adj) feeling or showing profound hopelessness, dejection, discouragement or gloom.
This edition is going to be pretty glum, and we all know the reasons for that.
2. I’ll Huff And I’ll Puff And I’ll Blow Your House Down
Not only were we beaten at home by Wolves, not only were we beaten 3-1 at home by Wolves, we were comprehensively outplayed at home by Wolves.
There was nothing there on Tuesday night, many players looking as if they were already looking to next season, concerned only with where else they’ll be playing their football.
Wolves were industrious and composed in midfield, organised in defence and capitalised on poor errors with fine finishing. We couldn’t take advantage of an Essex girl on her third bottle of Lambrini.
Our movement upfront is confused and ineffective and we have achieved the considerable feat of becoming a side lesser than the sum of its parts. We are simply too easy to play against.
Stick two players on Parker, get physical with our ‘attacking midfielders’, and let Kovac, Upson, Tomkins and the full-backs have the ball as much as they want, cos they’ll do nothing with it. Job done.
Our only outside chance at scoring is either from a penalty or on the counter, so if we break, the opposition merely has to foul someone, reassemble their troops and watch us ineffectively try to forge an opening.
None of the players can have any complaints about a backlash. What everyone knew to be a vital game produced a performance as toothless as a jellyfish with gum disease. Few turned up, and those who did played like strangers.
They should’ve been read the riot act after that performance, but are more likely to have got a consoling pat on the back from Zola and a plea for a reaction against Stoke City.
Pardew paid the price of being too matey with what were effectively his employees, and Zola is creeping closer to the same fate.
Every team in the league looks at us as a good chance for three points, home or away. Even a draw on Tuesday would’ve further dejected Burnley and Hull, but now they’ll have renewed belief.
The fans relationship with the team is currently a loveless marriage: passing each other on our way downstairs to the Championship, staying together for the sake of the kids as we cast furtive glances at fans whose teams can string more than two results together.
Stoke, Sunderland, Wigan and Man City at home. It’s all too easy to see defeats coming there, and then we’re doomed.
This week’s victors are Stoke City – Orcs of the Premier League who bludgeon and batter their way to survival, but they’re six places and nine points ahead of us.
What better tonic for our midweek dirge than seeing us steamrollered by anti-football?
Stoke will shape our season significantly in these last few weeks. After this weekend, they face Hull at home and Wolves away in their following two games. They also play Bolton before the end of the season.
They are not in great form, having picked up two points in their last five matches, but that’s two more than we've managed.
Their main attacking threat is from a throw-in, something they actually celebrate and commercially exploit up in the wastelands of Stoke, and they are largely comprised of big burly men, whippets and assault charges.
They should be beaten. They should be despatched from whence they came with a hiding and a moral crisis, but there’s every chance they’ll get the measure of our ‘better’ players.
The would have taken nothing but confidence from Tuesday night’s abomination and feel that all they have to do is turn up and put themselves about, and we’ll fold.
Earlier this season we lost 2-1 at The Brittania Stadium, never really getting to grips with the game, the concept of ‘football’, or the falsehood that the home crowd wield the mightiest roar in the land.
Matthew Upson scored from a corner to level things at 1-1, before having his face punched across The Potteries by Robert Huth.
Stoke went on to win, and I can’t even be bothered to finish this sentenfrgjy[pyi[jyet…..
5. Picture Book
6. Tale From The Top
Vampiric smut baron, David Sullivan, took the characteristic yet uncommon step this week of issuing a fierce public broadside to his staff.
In an open letter he rightly described Tuesday night as "shambolic" and "pathetic", derided the imbalance of the squad and declared "nobody at the club should delude themselves we are a good team."
Sullivan is obviously hoping to provoke a reaction for the Stoke game similar to that which followed his pay-cut threat prior to the win over Birmingham City.
Combined with a plea for both clemency and renewed support for Saturday, this is a canny move all-round from one half of our chairmanship.
He obviously hopes to stir a reaction as virulent as my aversion to Vegemite, which let me tell you is pretty violent.
7. Upson Downs
Further down the pecking order, club captain, Matthew Upson, has labelled Sullivan’s outburst “irrelevant” and spoken of the obvious need to regain some, any, semblance of teamwork.
Upson’s leadership on Tuesday night was nonexistent. Simple acts like reassuring young James Tomkins after his error for the first goal, were not forthcoming, and he looked as uninterested as any when it is his role to address player apathy.
Upson has confessed of his need to work on leadership, rightly observing that these things take time, but he is a senior player and time is short.
He needs to prove that we did not sell the wrong central defender in January. He needs to prove he has what it takes to be a leader of men. And Junior Stanislas.
Whatever his leadership style may be (vocal, by example, Marxist), he has to show it in spades and quickly.
8. Picture Book