Yellows 1 Salisbury 0

Whilst I was panicking that a blocked nose was a sign of acute renal failure or some equally slow and painful death, a doctor once said to me a truism; that I shouldn’t worry because ‘common things are common’.

Truisms are true because they’re true. So, it is true that winning is simple, but difficult. Yesterday’s win over Salisbury, whilst lacking the technical quality of earlier in the season demonstrated the simple values of a winning team. A dominant defence prepared to take responsibility, a midfield working doggedly and an attack taking risks.

In a number of games recently we’ve tried to play with the force of our own abilities and reputation. We’ve ignored the key qualities; get these basics right and the results will come.

Here’s another one from Gordon Strachan; coaching is easy, management is hard. Coaching is to strive for perfection. Management accepts that perfection isn’t possible and finds a way around it. This ability to accept risk, absorb the pressure that comes with the uncertainty and give freedom to the players to play without fear is a role few master.

Chris Wilder’s only mistake this season is to try and mould the squad to perfection. Prior to Christmas he had a squad that were imperfect but effective. So, rather than trying to find the perfect centre back pairing or strike partnership, he should have been developing these players’ confidence to ignore their weaknesses, thus creating a sense of championship winning invincibility.

Look at Stevenage; are you telling me that a squad that contains Yemi, Tim Sills, Jon Ashton and Eddie Anaclet are perfect? No, they’ve focussed on what these players do well and worked around their weaknesses. Now any perception they have any weakness has all but evaporated and they are rocking onto the title.

The margins between success and failure are tiny; you try to improve the squad, but every time you do you risk destabilising it. Some have suggested that price of getting this wrong should be Chris Wilder’s head. If he fails to learn from the experience, then the question might be a legitimate one. But anyone who thinks that every mistake should be punished with the manager’s job is utterly barking mad.

And finally, one from Chris Hargreaves on the subject of our current position: “that’s football, it’s hard”. True that.

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Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

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