Writer: Mike Field
Date:Monday February 23 2009
Martin O'Neill has said he doesn't care what so called pundits and 'experts' are saying in the media after our loss to Chelsea, the only people that matter are at the club.
Speaking to the E&S O'Neill hit back at the suggestions from some that our 'bubble had now burst', that the 'wheels had come off our bus' or that we'd 'prematurely ejaculated' or whatever those tired cliches are.
Yes, no fan can deny it's been a disappointing week in the life of our season, losses to Everton and a chance at the FA Cup gone, loss to Chelsea and the chance to go 5 points clear of them and even, given the chances we had, the draw against CSKA Moscow has further complicated our UEFA route BUT there's no way our season is over.
We lost to Everton, and the scoreline flattered them, but the bottom line is we lost to the best team on the day and the team that took their chances.
We lost to Chelsea, and for how bad a season they are having, let's not forget they are a quality side and with pretty much the same squad their end, it wasn't that long ago we'd have seen a 1-0 loss as a good result.
That is how far we have come and our season is no more over now because we lost to them, than it was when we got bullied by Stoke, or forgot to organise a pee up in a brewery when playing Newcastle and so on.
A bad week, they happen. You'd have thought the pundits and so called experts would have realised that or is all they see the fact it's the first time we've gone 3 matches without a win since October and the fact our 13 game unbeaten run is now over?
If that's the case why wasn't our season over before October when we couldn't win a match in 3 attempts, and what about before the 13 match unbeaten run began?
It's such a disaster isn't it, 1 point behind Chelaea and still 2 wins - points wise - clear of Arsenal and we sit in 4th place. Yeah disaster - we should throw the towel in now so those doubters can take comfort in taking about the Top 4 again as recently the Premiership seems to have a Top 5 just so that Arsenal are included.
God forbid if Arsenal or Chelsea had really had a mare at the beginning of the season, can you imagine them trying to say the Top 20 just so they didn't feel left out?
Anyway, O'Neill response to the suggestions was far more succinct than mine and he said simply:
"I can`t spend my time worrying about what other people think. It`s the people in the dressing room that count. They`re disappointed, they think it`s a setback.
"I want to make sure they genuinely believe that`s what it is. It`s a setback. It`s not catastrophic, it would have been great to have won and we thought we were capable of winning.'
Let's not forget the chances we had in the match aswell, getting at least a point from the match was not beyond us but that ball was determined to not go in. Yes statistically looking at the chances Chelsea deserved to romp us, but we had plenty of chances to draw level or secure a win as once they scored they had as much trouble as us finding the back of the net aswell.
A setback is all it is, just like the other losses this season were. At the end of the campaign we can all look back to the points we dropped and 'think' about where we could've finished, what else could we have achieved with a little bit more luck, and so on. But sod it, let's just enjoy the ride - the journey was all most of us wanted, the chance to succeed once O'Neill and Lerner arrived and whilst we all may grumble at January windows and the like how many of us were confident enough to think Top 4 was realistic this season - enough to put money on it?
I know I wasn't.
O'Neill finished off in typical fashion:
'If we lose the next five games I might agree there`s a pattern developing here."
Let's be serious - is it possible for a team playing under Martin O'Neill to lose 5 games in a row? Some how I doubt it.
Date:Monday February 23 2009
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