“It is said that the darkest hour of the night comes just before the dawn.”
Those are the words of 15th Century historian Thomas Fuller but they remain as prescient today as they did when he first published them in 1650. Modern wisdom applies them as a reminder that, no matter how bad things might seem, things do get better.
Let’s face it; Saturday’s trip to Warrington Rylands was a pretty dark hour. Losing any game 7-2 leaves players, coaches, officials and supporters hurting. I spent quite a lot of Saturday night feeling like I’d been punched in the gut, and I couldn’t go, so goodness knows how the travelling Bulls must have felt!
But… losing offers opportunities for learning and it might be argued that Kevin Lynch and his staff will have potentially learned quite a bit from Saturday’s shellacking. Perhaps they now have a clearer idea about key recruitment targets than they did before, or have spotted an element of the team’s tactical set up they wish to change. There may be immediate changes within the squad and those who remain will be scrutinised; as much for their reaction to the loss as anything else.
“I want to see a reaction” is what pretty much every manager says going into the next match after a heavy defeat. And with good reason. If a player carries the emotion of the previous game into the next battle, they are likely to struggle. It’s human nature. Think about your own job: do you do your best work if you’re feeling low, or do you work better when you go into a task with the mindset that you’re going to just get it done?
Hopefully, the players and coaches are seeing tonight’s hastily re-arranged match as an opportunity to show that the Rylands game was a one-off and that they have everything required to guide the club away from the foot of the table. However, with Mossley in excellent form, we supporters mustn’t panic if Cables prove unable to claim the points.
Sorting out a struggling football club is a bit like turning an oil tanker; it takes time and there’s always the risk of some damage in the process. The task facing Kevin Lynch was made much harder by the fact that, for whatever reasons, experienced players chose to move on. Building a team – a squad – is much easier for a manager when you inherit a decent spine. Unfortunately, with McCulloch, Cooper, Edgar, Hamilton and others all gone, the task is even harder than it otherwise would have been.
The gaffer has plenty of experience at this level and will have been hurting as much as anyone over the weekend. The players will have felt the embarrassment too and fixtures in this division don’t get much tougher than the game we have tonight. We are fighting relegation. But, if we stick together, we can get out of the situation we are in. This season is a journey we’re on collectively, to keep Cables at Step 4 and for the management team to reshape our footballing identity. There’s a lot of work to do, so let’s get behind the people doing it.
The first words tonight were Thomas Fuller’s. I think I’ll let him have the last words, too:
“The worse the passage the more welcome the port.”