Match wrap: Oxford United 4 Shrewsbury Town 1

I’m getting my first vaccine jab on Friday. As my sister says; I’m going to go from being the oldest of the young, to the youngest of the old.

Apparently the Oxford vaccine was in development before the pandemic hit.

WAKE UP SHEEPLE, EXPLAIN THAT!

Actually, no, it wasn’t the result of a pre-planned government oppression strategy, in very simple terms – which are the only terms I can understand it – a majority of what the vaccine needed to do was already known because of previous epidemics and pandemics, all that was needed was the remaining unknown – the specific characteristics of the virus causing the pandemic. Genius.

When we played Manchester City in 2018 it wasn’t the LED advertising boards or branded team bus that made me realise we were on a different planet, it was the phalanx of recording equipment they had set up at the back of the South Stand. There were laptops, cameras and analysts everywhere, it was hardly an auspicious historic moment they capturing for prosperity; it was a data harvesting exercise. 

There’s no real difference between harvesting data from the past to invest in a future of certainty whether it’s football or vaccine development. Google’s whole business is based on calculating your future needs based on your past behaviour. Finding certainty and order is a natural human obsession.

For Manchester City, this is paying dividends in the short and the long term. In a year of turmoil, they’ve been gliding to the top of the Premier League and are strolling to the title. Every tiny calculation has helped them to predict and plan and work with almost complete certainty. Like the vaccine development team; if they can predict 90% of what’s going to happen, there’s only 10% to manage. As a result, the quadruple is a distinct possibility with every threat and eventuality calculated, strategised and neutralised. Success is so boring.

I don’t blame the players or manager, their job is to win, the onus is on the powers that be to create a competitive environment. Sadly, in football, the aim of the authorities is to kowtow to rich and influential people by making their success as predictable as possible.

There’s little doubt that League 1 is awash with unpredictability. For all our own fluctuations in form, the same goes for those around us. We’re all little boats being tossed in a sea of unpredictability. In the last week we’ve found some calm water and a brisk following wind which has resulted in ten goals, two games and ten different goalscorers; has that ever happened before? Karl Robinson doesn’t have a trophy cabinet, but he has an increasingly long list of quirky facts about his reign on a spreadsheet. While we’ve thrived; those immediately above us – Blackpool and Portsmouth – haven’t failed to muster a win between them this week. And suddenly, with wonderful unpredictability, we’re back in it.

Why? How? Why? James Henry’s return to fitness has been huge, his ball to Matty Taylor for the third goal last night was sublime, of the ten goals we’ve scored, he’s been involved in six and wasn’t on the pitch for two of the remaining four. That’s some return. My low-def internet feed prevents me from fully understanding what Sam Long does to the team, but we always look better with him on the side. Elliott Moore is quietly becoming a dominant and influential force at the back and a threat up front. The pieces have fallen into place.

We don’t have Manchester City’s sophisticated sat nav making billions of calculations to war game all eventualities, allowing us to plot a path to success. We could suddenly hit a big wave or a strong headwind, we just don’t know. Which is a long way to say, I don’t know how we’ve got to this point and don’t know where we’re heading. This season I’ve predicted that we’re a spent force, I’ve predicted that we’re hot footing our way to the Championship, I’ve now concluded that I simply don’t know. I can say with absolute certainty that I have no clue where we’ll end up now.

Which, in a season as stale as this one threatened to be, and often was, is about as good as it gets, is it really better being 10 points clear with six games to when you’re the main character in a page turner; twist following turn following twist?

In three weeks and five games we’ll know; we may make it to the shores of the Championship, we may drown with all souls lost. In some ways, the destination isn’t the point, as they say; ‘adventure may hurt you, but monotony will kill you’. 

Published by

Oxblogger

Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

One thought on “Match wrap: Oxford United 4 Shrewsbury Town 1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s