Former Oxford United sports boffin Alistair Lane thinks most English footballers perform at about 60% of their true capability. That’s partly because managers and coaches are under-supported, under-funded and have low job security. As a result, rather than taking risks and finding ways of transforming performance to succeed, it’s easier to focus on not failing. You see the same thing in the public sector, for the same reasons.
Look at the transformation of Gareth Bale when he joined Real Madrid and a year later; the product of coaching and sports science. Or maybe drugs? It might be drugs. Obviously there’s no problem with drugs in football, I’ve no idea why I even mentioned it.
Anyway, the self-limiting effect of this under-investment in coaching was evident on Saturday. The mindset, not the quality. Their long-term ambition could be more grand, but generally speaking Morecambe will be satisfied remaining a stable lower-league club. A point was always going to be acceptable against us. They were there to take what they pragmatically needed. It’s not as if they had any fans to entertain.
This is being organised and professional, not negative or cheating, it’s just the reality of life. We’re going to face a lot of these teams and if we want to get promoted, then we’re going to have to find ways of working around the conservatism.
The Roberts thing continues to rattle around as the proposed solution. The argument goes that Hoban and Taylor haven’t worked, so you might as well throw him in to see if he can win the game. But, the fans should ask if they’re happy with going for the win even if it means increasing the risk of losing. That’s more likely to be in Appleton’s thinking.
The Radio Oxford phone-in was hysterical with the draw, imagine if we’d lost. You can read our form any way you like – 1 defeat in 17, 3 wins in 9. It’s far from a crisis, but what is undeniable is that following the light-hearted context setting of the opening games, we’re now into the grim reality of the season proper. The draw with Morecambe puts pressure on the York and Accrington games. If we are to challenge for promotion, we need a formula to win more of these games or that pressure will become unsustainable.