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Cup or Bust

Fredi Kanoute gives the Mackem defence a hard timeIím writing this a few hours before setting out for the FA Cup Quarter Final match against the Totts, and, while Iím looking forward to it, Iím also very nervous, as our whole season now hangs on this one game. After appalling performances this week in two other London derbies, any (very) slim hopes of a European place via the league have disappeared without doubt.

The mid-week game against Chelsea was a dreadful example of a team who obviously could not be bothered. If I turned in a dayís work like that Iíd be in serious trouble with my boss. Instead, Harry says beforehand that itís a match they can do without, thus giving the players the perfect excuse for a stroll in the park at the fanís expense. Whatever the next game is, the fans who are paying a lot of money for their tickets are at least entitled to full commitment from the players in any Premiership match. To so casually give Chelsea their first away league win of the season in this fashion was a disgrace. Apparently, Suker was playing for a new contract - well if thatís the case, Iíd hate to see him when he had nothing to play for!


What was extra annoying about this game was the fact that if it had been played on the original date, before the cup run started, we would almost certainly have won this game, being fresh from the thrashing of Charlton, and with Chelsea deep in a run of poor away form. The original game was postponed due to the clubís own incompetence. Incidentally, the club promised a full enquiry into the failure of the under-soil heating, yet two and a half months on, and they have still to offer an explanation. Can we assume their silence to be an admission of their guilt?


Letís face it, unless we actually go on to win the Cup, this season will have been very poor indeed. Only four home Premiership wins so far tells itís own story, along with yet another defeat to a lower division side in the Worthington Cup. With Harry telling us repeatedly at the start of the season that this was our strongest squad for years, we realistically should have been challenging for a European place. Instead it looks as though the only comfort weíll get from the season is the two Cup results against the Mancers and the Mackems.


Looking at teams like Ipswich, Sunderland and Leicester who are up there, they have nothing special about them, except that they have great team spirit, and good organisation. It is that latter quality that has cost us dear this season, especially from set-pieces where we have conceded far too many soft goals this term. Harry and his coaches must take the blame for much of this.


Harryís one great asset in his spell as our manager has been his abilities to ďwheel & dealĒ in the transfer market. This was great when he didnít have much money to spend. However, with the £18 million available from the Rio sale, he is showing signs of being out of his depth when it comes to making major signings. A fairly substantial part of the money has been frittered on other clubsí cast-offs, such as Song, Camara and Dailly. In the meantime, Tihinen, who has looked every bit the part of a top-class defender, is being allowed to re-join his club, because Harry wonít pay £4 million for him, (though he would pay £3m!). Itís a decision weíll regret next season when another club signs him, and heís keeping our forwards off the score-sheet.

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