Monday, 12 May 2014

TSLR - April 2014

If Oscar's arrival last summer had all the style of an Armada sailing in on a sea of old pictures of a swarthy Spaniard in his Barca shirt, it's fair to say we've all been left feeling a tad short-changed. Installing Nathan Jones as his assistant was like finding out your double date would be Mrs Brady from Viz, and even Oscar's much-lauded dress sense was swiftly drowned out by a succession of numbing catchphrases such as “we are pleased”, “we must do better” and the eternally enlightening “we will try to win the next game”.

Football fans, being as we are the types to throw wads of our meagre cash at an essentially nonsensical drama, seek out clear narratives, goodies and baddies. The board might have yearned for an easy life from a faceless coaching staff, but their apparent desire to get into the top six has seemed as far off as the front of the beer queues when the pie ovens are full.

Perhaps that's been the most frustrating aspect of Oscar's debut attempt to direct our complicated marionettes: he's got a list of extenuating circumstances which would have seen most managers hulking their egos out of Falmer quicker than Max Clifford at a cock-measuring orgy, making it hard to measure our malaise. The loss of Bridders, Crofts and angry Ashley has left the rest of the midfield working harder than Marilyn Manson's make-up artist.

We desperately needed a Vicente type to unlock defences, but as it turned out we got Keith Andrews throwing pebbles at the windows, with Buckley doing his Timothy Cratchit impression, LuaLua grumbling faux-provocatively on Twitter and Orlandi increasingly becoming a mythical figure. With the possible exception of Stephen Ward, whose form might be encouraging if we hadn't lost Bridge down the other side, the signings have been as inspiring as a Tory MP on a council estate: even Obika's bicycle kick, which should have taken its rightful place as one of the highlights of the season in front of goal, will be forgotten once Big Leo's penalty returns from orbit.

The board can't really pin this litany of poorly-deployed recruits on a man they were keen to appoint as coach rather than transfer policy-decider, and given the season ticket sales figures you have to assume the Os-car won't be sent to the scrapyard yet.

So what can we look forward to? The suspense is guaranteed to last until at least the pre-season fans' forum, when Garcia will reveal his masterplan to win games, score goals and make the fans happy. Who's to say he hasn't had tips from Tony in keeping his cards close to his chest? A man who wears brogues, high-fives ballboys and learnt from Cruyff could be ready to unleash his personality at any moment. Everyone thought Nigel Pearson was a dreary old trout at the end of last year, and look what Leicester have done. Enjoy the World Cup, enjoy the summer and roll on next season.