This is an article I wrote for the excellent Valley Talk fanzine, published in August. Given our current form on the pitch, I feel its significantly relevant going into tomorrow's game with Nottingham Forest.
Take the specific area of management as a case in point. Due to owners ploughing money into their respective clubs, expectations are high. Only so many clubs can be successful in a league structure, so logically a few managers won't be able to deliver. As a consequence, they get the sack.
The problem gets even worse when you factor in the number of chairmen and owners with unrealistic, even wildly ambitious expectations. More and more managers fall foul of displeased owners, and impatient pockets of supporters. When Alan Pardew is the second longest serving manager in the Premier League, you know something has to be done.
As I've mentioned, the culture of impatience has spread into the stands. Obviously it would make me a fool to point at every fellow football supporter and tell them they are the problem. That's obviously not the case. But there are an increasing number who seem to be demanding success too hastily. Booing used to be something of a last resort, when things had been too bad for too long. Nowadays, if you're losing at half time, don't expect to be applauded off.
The same frustrations expressed over the course of 90 minutes are seen increasingly over the course of seasons. Arsenal fans are perennially moaning about not winning trophies, despite finishing in the top four of English football year after year, and getting to see Champions League football each season. It's that kind of inability to accept repeat achievements that annoys me. The idea that a club has to advance every year is a foolish one. Many fans are grounded, but an increasing minority don't seem to be.
Inevitably this leads to me drawing comparisons with Charlton. We are fortunate to support such a fantastic football club. Last season was beyond what I believed we could achieve with the financial problems that arose over the summer, but there were moments where pockets of unrest emerged. A mid-table season, almost by definition, involves good runs and bad runs. Everyone was happy when the team was winning, but what irked me was the tendency of many to turn, almost in an instant, when things didn't go our way.
In October we were steamrollered in the second half by Middlesbrough, eventually losing 4-1. The disquiet was significant. That Tuesday we found ourselves 0-2 down inside 20 minutes to Cardiff at home. With the echoes of dissent still looming from Saturday, what followed was inspiring. The majority refused to give in to the negativity of the minority, and the vocal support did not cease despite the scoreline. We went on to win 5-4. I'm not saying that the result was down to the support, but you'd be mad to suggest the same sort of incredible fightback could've happened had the players been receiving abuse left right and centre.
Later in the season, when we were at risk of slipping into an awfully tight relegation battle, the response was not quite as encouraging. Booed off somewhat inevitability after a poor defeat to Millwall, and then at 0-2 down against Bolton there was real anger. The players were strong enough to turn that match around and win it, none more so than that man Yann who banished his penalty demons by scoring the winner from the spot. What followed was a wonderful unbeaten run to finish the season, lifting us to a superb ninth position. It was an incredible way to finish our first year back in the second tier, which produced some really unexpected and special moments along the way.
And yet some looked at our late surge and decided that we should've made the playoffs, and we'd underachieved. Right...
The inability to be objective, realistic and therefore satisfied with what is achieved is problematic. If you went back to August last year and assessed the financial situation, which prevented any more than a couple of additions to the squad, ninth would've appeared a distant dream. Most of us were rightly thrilled with the fantastic team spirit shown throughout the year, embodied by Chris Powell, that enabled us to bounce back from the low points. I for one couldn't have asked for more last season.
The retort to that would be that I'm not someone showing enough ambition. You can have all the ambition in the world, but it won't leave you with much satisfaction unless you are coming first. We are not a powerhouse in English football, and inevitability we will lose games. Sticking with a team through the bad times makes the highs feel a whole lot higher. That is the value of patience.
By no means is this a suggestion that we should all be happy to settle for mediocrity. Far from it. But when you are part of a club rebuilding after a tough few years, not demanding immediate success, and supporting the players who are giving their all is important.
Things take time to grow. Be patient. It's often rewarding in the end.
The original piece had the words "Hopefully we don't have a chairman or owner who loses his patience during this rebuilding process, who fails to recognise that something special is developing at our football club." After the summer we endured in the transfer market, its probably safe to say that its Chris Powell who's showing the patience, given he is deprived of resources to such an extent. Whilst much of the current situation can be blamed on the owners, and their inaction, it is important to point out that they have stuck by their man. Powell remains well backed personally. If only the same were the case financially...
I for one hope that we can rekindle the 'spirit of Cardiff', if you like, and show our support for the players on the pitch. Times have been tough of late, but being hostile about mistakes often creates a negative feedback loop. Confidence is low, so lets get behind the team tomorrow night.
Keep The Faith.