Awaiting an apology… and waiting still

Posted: February 8, 2010 by mcdonaldtaf in Manager Talk, Post Game, Team Talk
Tags: , , , , ,

There are some people out there this morning who, even at this stage, owe our manager an apology. There is little denying that you don’t know who you are – but for clarification…

You are the naysayers who told us (quite categorically) that the manager had lost the dressing room, despite eleven men playing their hearts out for every one of at least the last 900 minutes of football – finishing this recent run with 10 men playing with more passion, determination and heart than all the naysayers put together. The ones who called for Martin O’Neill to take charge immediately,  before we claimed 17 out of last 21 possible points; for those not in the know – representing title-winning credentials. You are the people who referred to OUR OWN manager as a ‘spanish waiter’ or a ‘retard’ or any one of many other derogatory comments I’ve seen.

You are not the ones who swayed from time to time and questioned the Spaniards tactics, who still got behind the man and the team when it mattered most (usually 3pm on a Saturday afternoon – well in the olden days anyway), or, the ones who pragmatically questioned ‘what if?’

We are not there yet and still have a long way to go, but every indicator I can see is pointing upwards. The performances from the team of late, without star players, do not correlate in any shape or form to a manager who can’t motivate his team. Blood, sweat and tears were needed while we fought our way through games without Gerrard, Torres and Johnson (to name a few) and our team, under the guidance and motivation of Benitez, delivered.

I don’t believe this season to me will represent the season of Rafa’s slip or the year that Rafa proved he was fallible. This season will be the season of ‘what if’? In the season when the league became more competitive and results stopped generally going the way of the top 4 or even the top 7…

  • What if we hadn’t had such crippling injuries?
  • What if Rafa had been supported in the transfer market to a greater extent, in what had all the indicators of being a title-winning season?
  • What if referees had applied the rules correctly, seen umpteen penalties and at least given us split decisions?
  • What if Sunderland’s newest Striker B. Ball hadn’t been fit for the game?

I had the great misfortune of having to watch the derby with Arsenal fans, who quite happily spent the game calling every decision for Everton with big grins on their face. In their quieter moments though it became clear that even if Arsene Wenger isn’t, Arsenal’s fan are genuinely starting to look over their shoulders, applying their own what if scenarios. Third is not only a possibility but a realistic target if we win this week – a far cry from a few weeks ago, when according to some the world was ending.

However, none of this matters to the naysayers. The ‘what ifs’ didn’t matter to them when things were bad and I doubt they’ll matter now. The real frustration is that if we lose to Arsenal they’ll be back telling us how it’s a disgrace that we can no longer compete with the top 4. They won’t consider that in a week where Hull held Chelsea before beating Manchester City this season is simply more competitive. They have an agenda now and they haven’t switched sides I’m afraid, they’re just on mute waiting for someone to hit the volume button.

  1. Peter A says:

    Another brilliant article. Totally agree this article. But don’t hold your breath for an apology to Rafa from those who have crucified him.

  2. Ian says:

    Well said, the silence has been deafening, mostly! Although Rafa may be safe from the detractors while our excellent run continues, the anti Lucas tirade continues even after another excellent performance. I’m at a loss as to which games these people watch!

  3. mcdonaldtaf says:

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    Not quite sure how anyone can criticise Lucas this season, he’s been a silver lining in the bad times as far as I’m concerned. There are plenty of stats. to back that up as well.

    It’s probably just very hard getting off the bandwagon once they’re on it!

  4. Tracey says:

    My slant has always been that Rafa has been a great manage for us. We have been “Run of the Mill” at times this season and it’s only recently that we have started to play with passion. That said, the blame does not rest at Rafa’s door. To wear that shirt you should have heart. And if you buy a club you should make sure you have the funds to run it properly.
    Many ex-players has asked for Rafa to go over the last few months as well.

    My problem with Rafa is this. He didn’t come out and deny the Juventus links. He sidestepped the question when asked directly. That made me think “What if”. Who would replace him and what difference would it make.

    To me, as long as Rafa is loyal to this club, I will be loyal to him. Through thick and thin.

    • mcdonaldtaf says:

      I think the problem, and it’s with the club in general, is the sheer volume of political shenanigans. I am not surprised that on the Sunday after Hicks was over and Rafa had ‘fuelled the Juventus fire’ he suddenly came out and denied everything. I think (and hope) that he was told what he needed to hear – a summer of bringing in new players rather than paying down debts.

      There is a sense that we are so near with everything – the team, investment etc. but that the rug could be pulled from under us at a moment’s notice!

  5. Great post! And I echo the sentiments about Lucas as well. I can’t wait for tomorrow night. In Rafa we Trust. #ynwa

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