It’s The Hope That Kills
Our hearts were on the floor. Battered and stomped after Swansea had inexplicably put themselves 3-1 ahead.
Here we are again. The same old comedy show defending, the same old mistakes coming back to haunt us.
A team that has been riddled with defensive incompetency all season, who have spent the week working on defensive shape and organisation, felled by five goals to the Premier League’s worst side.
It’s the hope that kills. Hope. That little word we all clung on to during the week. That word that acted as a safety net of sorts as the walls were crumbling all around us.
We hoped we could do enough to get a result against Swansea. We hoped, beyond all logic, that the management and the squad had enough in them to arrest our worst slide in recent memory.
How bad does it have to be, that hope is all we have? How bad do things have to be for hope to be your only redeeming quality?
It shouldn’t be like this. A side boasting the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke and Yohan Cabaye shouldn’t be relying on hopeful optimism to get a result against a side in hapless dissarray themselves.
A side whose defensive organisation was once the envy of clubs up and down the division, are firmly back in joke shop territory. More set piece failures, more comical organisation, and more soundbites from an increasingly out of his depth manager. We can no longer rely on sound bites and promises of addressing our failings. We haven’t been able to do it for the last eleven months. What gives you the slightest suggestion that we can do so in the next six?
“We’ll be fine” some might say. We have enough quality to avoid the drop.
We’ve conceded five goals to a Swansea side who before yesterday seemed like certainties to drop out of the division. When does the time come for those within the club to stand up and take notice of the mess that we are enveloped in?
We can blame Wayne Hennessey’s static nature for the first equaliser yesterday. We can blame Jason Puncheon for conceding a dangerous free kick on the edge of the box. We can blame Cabaye for not properly clearing his lines when stopping the ball on the line. We can blame any amount of individual mistakes over the last eleven months for the goals we have conceded.
When are we going to hold someone accountable for the collective errors? When are we going to address what we can all see, and what we have all been able to see from the very first game of this season?
Pardew will point to individual errors. He will point to the Wickham injury that altered our shape. He will point to his own coaching set-up to cast blame on whoever is responsible for set-piece defending. When will he point the finger of blame at himself?
Pardew will wake up this morning, and hope he can arrest the slide. He will look at the home game against Southampton next week and feel that the side is hurting so much now that they can’t possibly not put in a performance. He’s hoping he can save his job. He’s hoping, beyond all logic, that he is still viewed as the right man for the job.
But for supporters, there’s no hope left. We saw that hope snatched from us at 3-1 yesterday. We were lulled into a false sense of euphoric security when we miraculously pulled it back to 3-3, and then inexplicably took the lead.
And then the kick in the teeth. More errors. More hapless attempts to protect a lead that we so badly needed to retain.
The sense of deflation, of anger and of apathy of all those who trekked up to Swansea on busses and trains in the early hours of the morning was palpable.
We have no hope left. Not even the smallest shred of positivity to extricate from the cesspit of woe we are engulfed in.
We deserve better than this. We deserve to at least know that our willingness to fight for our Premier League status is reciprocated in the corridors of Selhurst Park where decisions are made.
Our hope was snatched cruelly from us yesterday. Surely now is the time to deprive Pardew of any hope he has left that he’s the right man for the job. Because it’s the hope that kills, and the longer Pardew is allowed to be hopeful the more likely we are to go down with no more than a whimper.