Perhaps the collective mindset was orientated towards Paris, maybe it was the unseasonal autumn sunshine, maybe it was simply the fact we won last week. Whatever it was, the Kassam Stadium seemed at peace with itself before the draw with Woking. It couldn’t last, could it?
Well, you know the bloke you hear shouting with angry incoherence throughout the game? The one you eventually stare at with tired resignation thanking your lucky stars you’re not sitting next to him. Well, I’m the bloke with his head in his hands sitting next to him.
There’s a lot in the psychology of football about oppression; social, physical, even sexual. Men sitting in designated seats, watching intellectually inferior, physically superior, men playing a game they want to play. All this, whilst paying for the privilege.
Perhaps this is why the bloke next to me is so angry. He’s desperately oppressed. He, and many others in the stand, seem to have lost a sense of perspective. Now we boo the away goalkeeper, yell incandescence at the injured referee, tear strips off Jordan Rhodes for being bumped off the ball and even get apoplectic during the gaps in play.
It’s a time-honoured tradition to put pressure on the goalkeeper, but the London Road would applaud the keeper into his goal; recognising that it was just a game. The referee pulling a muscle is worth a good laugh, but its not deserving of acidic shouts of being a ‘fat faggot’.
When England won the rugby world cup, Clive Woodward introduced the concept of TCUP – Think Clearly Under Pressure. It basically means when the going get tough, the tough calm down and go back to basics. For us this means off as well as on the pitch.
In truth, there were good things; Stefan Bailey’s been schooled in ‘give-and-go’; his work rate and physicality allowed more control in midfield. The ball stayed on the floor and Phil Trainer was more involved for longer. Yes, we’re still lacking the goalscoring touch, but if there were more players willing to offer what Bailey does, then things will improve.