Stockport 2 Yellows 1

I followed Saturday’s defeat via Twitter whilst walking around Windsor. When we went 1-0 up, I thought, ‘eeh, that Tom Craddock he’s such an enigma.’ Then when it came through the Anthony Tonkin got sent off, I thought ‘eeh, that Anthony Tonkin, he’s such an en…’

And then it dawned on my, we’re a team of enigmas. That’s what makes our results so unpredictable.

Take Tom Craddock, he’s a player who it’s difficult to warm to. He leaves such a lack of impression; I sometimes find it difficult to work out which is Craddock and which is McLean. They are just one player. His game is defined wholly by his goals. If he doesn’t score, he doesn’t exist. And yet, he will surely end up as our top scorer with a pretty decent haul.

Tonkin arrived after the extended weather break during Christmas 2009. He has a slouched style and a shuffling gate. He exudes virtually no emotion. He comes over as both lazy and disinterested, but reassuringly controlled in equal measure. He seems a man untouched by the pressure of professional football, and yet, there are times when he seems to collapse. Yesterday, Tuesday and much earlier in the season, against Stockport (I think).

Add to these is Steve McLean. He seems part pivotal lynch pin, part ineffective show pony, part psychotic. Like all good enigmas, just when you think you’ve worked him out, he changes again.

These characters have contributed to a team that both amazes and frustrates in equal measure. They play the best football we’ve possibly ever seen at the Kassam, and yet, suddenly, in a moment, they collapse.

It’s a stark contrast from the squad of last year, which was all honest graft, sleeves where rolled were up and we went to work. There were few subtleties.

But, whilst it can all go horribly wrong in a moment, I like it. For the first time in years, results are important but not essential. We’re not escaping from the Conference, we’re aspiring for League 1 and because there is not the same emphasis on points, the style in which we’re playing is increasingly important.

Yellows 0 Stockport County 1

Years ago it was a rare to see a player get a standing ovation when substituted. If the Beech Road rose as one, you knew the player trotting towards the dugout had been exceptional. During the Kassam years this evolved to a point where every player got a standing ovation. Like an encore at a rock concert; what was once the appreciation of excellence was a meaningless ritual.

After yesterday’s defeat to Stockport we witnessed the eroding of another tradition. At the front of the South Stand Upper people were applauding. Lots of people. It was an ovation typically associated emphatic victory, not defeat. Down on the pitch, the players were applauded back. It was all very cosy and conciliatory.

The reality is that we’ve lost half our games at home. Granted, the performances have been top draw and there is much still to be optimistic about. But we seem to be quite satisfied with performance over results.

Now, I fully believe that coaches should concern themselves with performances not results because its what they can control. However, it is typically the fans who worry about results, except when you’re us, it seems.

Post-Wembley, results are of little concern. As unhealthy as our habit of losing is, we’re generally happy just to be a league team. Like an octogenarian who won’t exercise because they’re ‘too old to worry about that kind of thing’, now we’ve had our time in the sun, we seem happy for this season to just drift away from us.

This lack of urgency risks slipping onto the field, the players, especially those signed this season, could lose a few percent because the pressure to perform isn’t there. In the last few minutes yesterday we stroked the ball around looking for an opening when a few panicky hail-marys into the box may have paid dividends. The team would have done well to recognise when to be more direct, but we were hardly pushing them in that direction.

I’m with most people, the performances this season have been outstanding and results will come. But, if we lose a bit of the intensity that was built up last year, and a few more results just slip by unnoticed, then our season will be over at Christmas.