It wasn’t a question of if, it was always a question of when. When would we concede and when would we drop points? The longer our run of results went on, the closer they were to ending. We knew that, we just hoped it wasn’t true.
Another nagging question that hangs in the air is; what now? We’re the life and soul of the party; entertaining, dynamic and fun at our best; but can we keep it going or will we end up sobbing uncontrollably in the corner when the lights go on?
It is still difficult to fully trust this team; even when I talk about ‘team’ I’m not sure who I’m talking about. The squad clearly has plenty of ability and it rattles along at such a pace that the potential for the wheels to fall off remains very real.
After the Accrington game Cameron Brannagan was talking about the Portsmouth game on Tuesday as though it were a league match. ‘I’m a machine’ he said. It’s a machine whose throttle is permanently pressed to the floor.
But there is no better illustration of the risk than the substitution of Ben Woodburn for Anthony Forde and then Forde for Alex Gorrin in the first half. Gorrin had been rested because he’s been one booking from a ban since the opening weeks of the season.
Those injuries to Woodburn and Forde, along with Thorne and Hanson seem to be the collateral damage of the way we play. Two others are a booking away from a ban and we’ve had more bookings than anyone else in the division.
Karl Robinson creates so much heat and light through his boundless energy that for every last minute win, giant killing and breakneck run of results, there’s another player risking ban or six-week spell on the sidelines due to injury. No wonder he’s still looking to bring in more players in, he burns through them at such a rate.
For Robinson, this is probably how he’s lived his whole career – it’s probably normal to him. Powering on, hoovering up experiences, never looking back at the consequences. But, can we sustain this for the next eight months? Eight weeks? Even the next eight days?
There’s a notable chill in the air, which means things are getting serious. We’re about to go into a period of about four months where everything gets disrupted; cup games – with the addition of the League Cup – and international breaks are shoehorned in between the League.
I’m torn between enjoying the moments and building a sustainable club one block at a time. We’re ninth in the table, if we have a top 10 budget, then we’re exactly where we should be. Sometimes I feel we need to be more conservative because our peers are teams like Accrington, Wycombe, Burton and Wimbledon – conservative, sustainable and pragmatic.
We have Doncaster, Rotherham, Sunderland (in the League Cup), Ipswich and Portsmouth coming up. It’s a group of clubs which we would aspire to being part of. Perhaps we already are and this is the way we need to play to maintain our position or go higher.
Maybe the problem isn’t the team or Karl Robinson, perhaps it’s just me.