Sunday, 29 August 2010

Six of the worst?

Limbering up before the storm
What to say after your team has just been humped 6-0 and looked all over the place in the process? For the fan it's painful but not too difficult. You whinge a lot, call for somebody or other to be fired, and then speculate how it might all be different if you were picking the team, running the dressing room and controlling the transfers. Then again, you're not. Nor are you taking all the crap that goes with that when things are proceeding badly on the pitch.

After yesterday's day out at Methil, Dumbarton boss Jim Chapman commented, according to the Daily Record :  “I won’t comment on my team’s performance as they don’t deserve one. I want to praise to East Fife who showed great willingness, hard work and quality.” No doubt that will attract a lot of criticism, though it seems not unreasonable to me. Fans went away saying much the same thing. We complain when modern bosses come out with contentless media-speak. But when they're forthright, we don't much like that either.

Dumbarton press forward at Methil
After a performance like Sons gave yesterday, you can't possibly say something isn't wrong. But angry remonstrations, immediate demands to 'sack the manager', and quick-fix solutions aren't the answer. I've seen eight cup, friendly and league matches since last month, and this was by far the worst performance so far (though I missed the second half collapse at Forfar, which may have been the first manifestation of the symptoms we saw at New Bayview). Sometimes we've played good, flowing football while lacking bite in the final quarter - especially in the area. Defensive frailties have been evident at crucial moments. Dumbarton have some good players, some young promising players, some players who are clearly struggling. Points have been thrown away against Livingston and Ayr. Yesterday, everything that could go wrong went wrong and the Fifers took their opportunities well. The chasm looked to be one of confidence and cohesion.

Throughout the game, which was obviously dire from a Sons point of view, most of the away support got behind the team. But a minority used the occasion to unleash a torrent of abuse - not least at the manager as he came off the pitch at half-time and full-time. If they'd received so much as a wagging finger or cross word back, they'd probably have been complaining to the SFA that they'd been "offended" and demanding disciplinary action. Sorry, I don't buy it. Constant heckling does nothing to help the side. Quite the reverse. Nor is it evidence of a superior loyalty... just a lack of maturity and self-control. We've all been there. Hopefully we've grown out of it.  

What unfolded on the park yesterday wasn't a true and definitive measure of Dumbarton for 2010-11.  It's precisely four matches into a 36 game term. It took seven games before we won last season. Peterhead and Stenhousemuir are struggling at the moment too, it's not as if we are irreversibly adrift. We also have new signings who need to bed in. Gary Smith and Mark Gilhaney look promising. I've liked what I've seen of Creaney and Wilson, too. Derek Carcary and Andy Geggan have undoubted grit and flair.  The 19s are doing well, but lack experience. Tough times are an invitation to resolve, not panic. And no, that's not complacency. It's realism.

With the international break next weekend and the experimental opportunity of the Stirlingshire Cup the the squad and the manager have some time to sort out their difficulties and come back for a fresh attempt at getting the league campaign kick started on 11 September. I hope they get the chance to do so. We've taken a bad beating. Giving each other six of the worst won't make anyone feel better.

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