Time for a shift in City's expectations

PUBLISHED: 15:03 23 December 2006 | UPDATED: 09:55 14 September 2010

Déjà vu. Groundhog Day. An everlasting loop in the time-space continuum. Call it what you will, but City fans everywhere experienced this phenomenon again last Saturday, and no doubt will for, well, eternity it seems.

Déjà vu. Groundhog Day. An everlasting loop in the time-space continuum.

Call it what you will, but City fans everywhere experienced this phenomenon again last Saturday, and no doubt will for, well, eternity it seems.

Never mind Everton on Sunday losing their record of scoring first and leading at half time at Goodison Park and, for seven and a half years never going on to lose, how about us managing to score first away from home, concede and then go on to win for a change?

When's the last time we did that then?

I don't know about you but I'm almost reaching the point when our opener on enemy territory is greeted with a groan because the expectation is that the opposition will equalise through fair means or foul and then somehow or other, sometimes not without too much guile or know-how, breach our defences again and take the spoils from under our noses.

Sounds familiar? All too familiar I'm afraid.

One of the keys to turning this around has to be found in that not so little word 'expectation'.

Maybe we are in a current state where some or all of the players almost expect not to be able to go on and win after seeing their lead eroded, even if their effort levels do not drop.

What goes on in their minds is extremely important, with belief being fundamental to what then ultimately happens.

With belief you can become better at what you do if even by a small margin, but enough that collectively a team can defeat another whose sum of individuals in terms of talent is far greater.

Take a look at Sheffield United at the moment if you doubt this. Player for player they appear weaker than most other teams in the Premiership but on the pitch for just over ninety minutes they work their socks off from start to finish and refuse to lie down and accept defeat or a draw for that matter, and, just lately in particular, this spirit has paid dividends.

I for one would not be surprised if their belief helps to keep them up this season. If it did it would be a triumph of mind over matter in a very big way, no doubt about it.

So while I am busy trying to find out if the local herbalist sells 'belief' infusions, leaving all of you to your last-minute shopping, I suppose there is some comfort from knowing that we can all let Christmas out of the window and welcome in the New Year and the possibility of some new faces.

Especially those who leave the traps from minute one when the hare comes round the corner and not just when we realise that the others have already navigated the first bend and will be out of sight if we don't start some time before the end of January.

And, so far as the league is concerned, with every passing week that's just how it seems.

The pack are gradually pulling away and we're merely playing catch up, only it soon won't be 'catch up' but simply 'let's see how high we can finish', and that will not be of any comfort to any City fan as we've all expected to see improvement in that respect this season.

Still, with my glass half full there is still time, but the need for a good run - say 10 games without defeat and 6-7 wins - is much needed.

Trouble is, the expectation has long been that we come down with the decorations. Time to shift some expectations methinks, on all sides, and start to have a little belief.

There'll be plenty of time to put him in the stocks and make him sweat come May if we're below the Suffolkites and don't quite make the top six again.

Happy Christmas to City fans everywhere.

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