Hopelessly stuttering through the season, we may well be sleepwalking ourselves into a relegation fight if yesterday’s defeat to Lewes is anything to go by.
During times of crisis eventually someone calls for a return to the fundamentals or to get ‘back to basics’. The current crisis in the financial markets illustrates this perfectly. Financial institutions spend years unchecked finding increasingly complex ways of making money. When the inter-relationship between these tools becomes so complex it finally loses sight of the fact that trades should be tied closely to buying and selling real things the world gets the jitters and the markets collapse.
These layers of complexity blur our focus and we lose sight of our purpose for being. We indulgently feed our souls (or our pockets) but forget to feed our bodies. Getting back to basics is a call to return to what keeps us alive.
In getting back to basics Oxford fans may well need to divest themselves of the cultural baggage they afford themselves; the magnificence, the deservedness, the loyalty. This expectancy of reward weighs heavily around the club. But it means nothing. If loyalty is commitment to a cause, and that commitment carries a higher tariff in times of adversity and failure, then Oxford fans are the most loyal in the country. But so, then, are Bucks Fizz fanatics and they, like us, are quite possibly the dumbest mother fuckers in the country.
If Darren Patterson is to go then I fear that Oxford fans are not going to like what is required to replace him. We can no longer talk about ‘winning in the right way’, or succeeding because of our history, fans or size. Our requirements are more prosaic, more functional – and the kind of football needed is the kind delivered by the likes of Ian Atkins.
Atkins may not be available or willing, but he is the kind of manager who understands the needs of the lower leagues. Functional, efficient football based on things you can control; work rate and brawn. One of Atkins’ favourite phrases was about ‘winning the right to play’. I think we need to re-win the right to win.