Engine room again lacked quality

PUBLISHED: 12:58 11 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:12 14 September 2010

To write early on in the week or not to write early? That is the question. Whether tis better to let dust settle on stirred up passions or to give vent to them while heated blood is still coursing through the veins… hmmm! Never mind the misfortune of slings of arrows and all that jazz - apologies Mr.

To write early on in the week or not to write early? That is the question. Whether tis better to let dust settle on stirred up passions or to give vent to them while heated blood is still coursing through the veins… hmmm! Never mind the misfortune of slings of arrows and all that jazz - apologies Mr. Shakespeare!

Less than 24 hours after (understatement cap firmly on) a very disappointing defeat in arguably our most important match of the season I just believe that I can't leave it a few days because I don't want to feel less emotional and I don't want to feel less frustrated with what seems to be a situation that is becoming more and more of an impasse.

Where do I begin? Well, last week I was pretty pleased to put it mildly that we had bought Robert Earnshaw. Now it doesn't take a genius to work out that he isn't much taller that Paul McVeigh and lightning quick - just the sort of player to excel and score masses of goals for us if he gets on the end of … high balls lumped upfield from defence and midfield…NOT! And thinking that loan striker JJ will be the perfect foil for him when, although not the shortest forward to ever don City colours is certainly far from the tallest, is plain folly. That's not to say that both loanees didn't have decent games - I thought they did, and especially Zesh Rehman I must say - but the engine room again lacked quality and presence right across the park and were conspicuous by their absence when balls were played out of our own defence and whenever Ipswich cleared one of our attacks.

All of which leads me back to a couple of weeks ago when I maintained that we needed a creative midfielder of real quality as a priority during the window. It would be too simplistic to say that not doing so will cost us a play-off place though for there are other factors that have come to bear as the season has unfolded.

Don't get me wrong, I think we do have a good side on paper and we need to look for steady improvement as the new players bed in, but we all know that football is played on grass not paper, against opposition players who often seem to have more motivation and determination, not to mention skill, than their mere names on a team sheet or a tactician's whiteboard may suggest, and it's all very well saying that if we go out there and play our own game to the best of our ability we will prevail. What happens when we don't execute to the best of our ability? Well we all saw the answer on Sunday didn't we? And it hurt. How could City play so badly in such an important game, be so outplayed, and yet appear ON PAPER to be stronger in almost every position?

And that is where nearly every fan is having his or her conscience tied up in knots right now for something is clearly wrong and it is getting harder and harder to look at individuals on the pitch and see multiple failings, whereas it is becoming easier perhaps to think that something elsewhere is behind it. Put simply, other teams seem able to pass the ball around like we used to and although I think we have the personnel (if picked) to do so now we just don't look as if we can any more. Have others advanced while we have stood still or gone backwards, or have we just run out of ideas, or the ability to execute plan B or plan C if plan A is being negated?

Apologies for all the questions this week and little attempt to answer them but I find myself feeling like the rest of the green and yellow world this morning - at a loss to identify exactly what went wrong in that all-important game, and as to where to go next to move forwards once more. I don't like pointing fingers or finding scapegoats but we all know that the current state of affairs cannot continue unabated. Another thing for certain is, and I've said this before, that next season we must get out of the blocks in August and not in October or later because that early momentum is vital to confidence and can shape the entire season.

The seeds for that push must be sewn now, but whether the head gardener and his crew remain to sew them only others can decide. Little doubt though that each failure can only result in the hungry masses calling louder and longer for some new green-fingered gurus to head east and plant their ideas in the fertile soils at Colney.

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