As one out-of-work manager succinctly put it back in the day: “Our performance today would not have been the best looking bird but at least we got her in the taxi.”
Beggars can’t be choosers in other words, even if this was revolting to look at for large parts against a side we really should be much prettier against.
Or should we? With a misfiring front line once again firing blanks in open play and a quite hopeless attempt at game management after going a goal up, it’ll take a lot more than Ian Holloway to steer this lot away from the threat of relegation.
There were positives in the three points we pulled and the fact this group are clearly committed to the cause, as seen in when Podence collapsed to the floor upon hearing the referee blow up as the clock struck 5pm. Diego Costa’s role as mischief maker was also galvanising, and might just be as critical as the goals he will or won’t score in future. (Oh, and Morgan Gibbs-White did little to suggest we’re missing much and didn’t score against us, thank the lord!)
But our kamikaze attempts at ball-retention from the hour-mark – from players who should know better – was so inept it bordered on the laughable. Befitting of a side unable to win games of football, we looked like rabbits in the headlights with Jonny, Neves, Nunes and Moutinho squandering possession in increasingly maddening ways. And Hwang’s late cameo lacked even more energy than the three fans having a kick through the hole at half time.
Against better opponents, there’d be no Status Quo at the full time whistle, but more league table irregularities and more questions posed than answers.
But as it is, we thank Jose Sa for saving our bacon and can finally tune into Match of the Day for only the second time this season, safe to come out from behind the sofa at long last.
Whether this proves to be a turning point remains to be seen, but I’d suggest we have to play a heck of a lot better. We kept a clean sheet by the grace of god and a litany of errors by Toti, Jonny and Ait Nouri ensured we were on the edge of our seat until we were finally put out of our misery.
The good news is that Collins should now be back and the players will surely be buoyed by the win, however ugly it was.
The bad news is we play Crystal Palace on Tuesday night, so bungling another 3pts into the back of a cab will be a much taller order on bitter experience – even more so if we keep giving the ball away like this.