Panic not

Even footballers who aren’t preened with media training have stock phrases they use in interviews. The important thing is the three points, spirit in the camp is good and, when you’ve just signed, I like to get amongst the goals.

This phrase is rolled out whether they’re a striker, left back or goalkeeper. There’s an interesting concept in communication; what is said and what is interpreted from what is said, so ‘getting amongst the goals’ is often interpreted as ‘getting goals’.

Now, of course players like to get amongst the goals; who wouldn’t? Therefore the phrase is a meaningless sop for the media revealing precisely nothing about the player and his aspirations.

What’s more you don’t want a left back to get amongst the goals? Well, it’s OK if you’re Paul Powell in his pomp, but not if you’re caught trying to ghost in on the back post whilst the opposing team are marauding down the right wing through the massive gap you’ve left behind.

Most players need to stick to the job their bought in to do, not everyone can be Rooney and Zidane. It is therefore not always preferable to have left-backs getting amongst the goals. Earlier in the season when the weather was better, the pitches were more even, and injuries and tiredness weren’t key factors, the more cultured artisans such as Duffy and Burgess were able to thrive. But as the bleak midseason hits, players with more obvious though limited talents are needed.

This is where the return of Marvin Robinson may help and either a new dogged central midfielder or a Hutchinson/Hargreaves/Pettefer midfield trio would be better at this stage in the season. But Robinson is injured, as is Hutchinson; and a dogged central midfielder is cannot come in until the New Year.

The fans, however, are offering no sympathy to the situation which is all leading to the culture of panic. The atmosphere on Saturday was appalling. Earlier, a conceded goal would have been greeted with a rousing positive roar of encouragement; now it’s a tirade of boos. Objectively we conceded a sucker punch of a goal, dominated throughout but struggled in the conditions.

It’s hardly time to write off the season; second on goal difference, third highest goalscorers, best defence, two defeats, all the big teams still to come to the Kassam, undefeated at home and Dagenham with two more away games than us. It’s not over yet.

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Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

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