Last season the phrase was “hold your nerve”, as the new season is about to begin, my new buzz line is keep the faith. Unlike the Bon Jovi album from 1992 – yeah nearly 30 years ago – that I can still happily sit and read the sleeve notes from, the situation we find ourselves in is far from youth angst, relationships and rebellion against authority. It’s edge of your seat apprehension about what could be, and what might be. It’s steadfast clinging onto the belief that Bielsa has got this. It’s standing on the precipice looking straight ahead at what is coming at you not staring down the gap worrying about the fall. It’s nervous trepidation, excitement and anticipation, not worry, anxiety and fear (for a change).
I said WGUAFC at the start of last season…. and we did. The nails were in tatters after that Cardiff game and I openly confess that PPG was looking a good option for reducing the chance of any impending cardiac problems. But we held our nerve, and in the final run up, West Brom and Brentford didn’t. We finished on a flourish of 8 unbeaten games and the highest point tally for ages with clean sheets galore, despite the EFL’s best attempts to scupper this by holding poor Kiko hostage for 8 games because someone thought he heard something that no other f**ker heard. Leko got his just desserts as did his loan club Charlton Athletic. A grudge is for life, not just Christmas.
Within hours of sealing our promotion, the rumour mill was well and truly grinding at full pelt. No quarter was given, Cooper and Klich had barely woken from their drunken stupors, before the whole “Bielsa for Barca” thing started. Picture Klich waking up the next day on the settee, reeking from cigar stubs in that mega mix donner kebab, that seemed like such a fabulous idea at 2am from Mill Hill kebabs, knocking over Stella empties, reaching for his glasses, and peering at his phone to the news that Messi was demanding that they get Bielsa.
In fact, there’s hardly been time to draw a breath since we a) sealed promotion, b) got promoted as Champions (like I said we would) and then c) the “pi-ess de resistance” or piss take that was the guard of honour from Derby. We got promoted without kicking a ball, and all of a sudden, we needed to invest and buy more, indeed, some “fans” used the word “proper” players. Christ, we’d just got promoted against the likes of Brentford and West Brom. Brentford had hardly lost a game in 10, they’d gone on a massive winning run and had the best defence in the league. West Brom, well with Bilic in control, a man who had proven managerial calibre in the English game (unlike Bielsa who had proven that he couldn’t hack the pressure last season), promotion was inevitable. Wasn’t it?
You’d think everyone would be ecstatic, but even before the stench of the blue and yellow smoke bombs had time to disperse outside ER, the old critics were sharpening up the pencils, and the millenials were charging up their phones to complain that we now needed a proper team.
The fact that we’d deservedly got promoted as Champions meant nothing. From what was posted on noseybook alone ( I don’t do Twitter or have anything to do with these noticeboard fan sites) you’d have thought we’d only just scraped through by the skin of our teeth. Admittedly, despite Bielsa’s high intensity training regime, we were lucky with injuries last year. It might be a bit different in the PL. Having said that, after putting myself through the pedestrian strolling of some of the PL games on Sky last season, it may not be as much of an issue as we might think.
Having been through the Ridsdale era of spend, spend, spend beyond our means and the consequences of said frivolous squandering, I am weary of splashing out on new players. Yes, the likelihood of getting Ben White has waned away, so we need someone to bolster the back, but the thought of frittering away every last penny of promotion cash that has found it’s way to the coffers, is the thing that is worrying me the most. I think one Seth Johnson, is one Seth Johnson too many. Bad enough when we got Thomas Brolin. We need to learn from our mistakes. We have got promoted playing some of the most exciting football since, well, last season. Our players play as a unit, a well rehearsed unit, I am really uneasy with the thought of a repeat of the “we need to buy more players in the transfer window” Augustin episode. It was bad enough when we got Izzy Brown because ” we desperately need more investment”. There’s no point buying more players for the sake of it. The wage bill will keep going up, at a time when matchday revenue is the princely sum of £0. Yes, there will be SkyTVisf**kings**t money and money coming in from the advertising etc. but if the players are on £60,000 a week, that’s £3 million already gone in just one player a year. Don’t even get me started on FFP and all that.
We need to consolidate, not speculate to accumulate. It would be great to see us get the magical 50 points by Christmas needed to stay up. That’s all I want for Christmas, cheers Mariah. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll be fantastic to get Top 10 and even better-er to get to Top 6 with maybe a decent cup run. PLEASE let us have a decent cup run. I’m fed up of this pretending to join in rubbish that we have been subject to in the last decade. Field a decent team, PLEASE or just don’t bother filling in the application form in the 1st place. I really do not want to join in with the Burnleys and West Hams who just go through the motions because they are focusing on staying up. We are better than that. Surely?
The main thing, keep the faith