Last night, an uncharacteristically poor Leicester City side crashed out of the FA Cup at home to Huddersfield Town and despite a season of considerable achievement, some of the Foxes faithful have leapt to their panic stations without a second thought.
Before last Saturday and a defeat to Peterborough United, the Foxes had amassed a run of 5 straight league victories. The fans clearly had expected more of the same against Posh and Huddersfield. However, the expectation is simply unrealistic. No run of form can carry on forever, there will be times between now and the end of the season that we will play well and win and there will be times when we will play poorly and lose, that’s football. It’s simply unrealistic to assume that we will always win and always put in a spectacular performance. We should strive for that and have every right to be disappointed but every cloud has a silver lining and we should be thankful that we’ve lost a cup game and not another 3 points in the race for promotion.
Some fans have plastered City as a “one-man team”, citing the absence of Chris Wood as Leicester’s abrupt blip (and that’s what it is) in form. But those fans seem to be forgetting that Leicester failed to perform to their usual lofty standards in the game against Wolves and the original tie against Huddersfield, both games in which Wood appeared. I’m not excusing the fact that Wood is the best striking option to partner David Nugent but we’re not hopeless without him, we were firmly cemented in the top 6 before Wood even arrived just one month ago.
Typically, with every defeat comes disappointment but some seem to have made it a habit to grossly over-react to any setback the club receives. Between now and the end of the season there will be ups and downs. We are in a great position and the fans of Hull City, Watford, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough will experience similar fluctuating fortunes to ourselves. The key is to support the team through it. As the whistle went last night, I wasn’t shocked but disappointed by the sizeable portion of the 14,000 Leicester fans that booed the team off the pitch. The players and the manager know the performance was poor and that it should have been better but intensifying it by creating an atmosphere of negativity every time we lose is nonsensical. We’re third in the league, three points behind second place with a better goal difference and a game in hand. We’re not staring down the barrel of non-league football. This over-reaction just intensifies something that should be recognised as an inevitable blip in form.
The callers on BBC Radio Leicester last night spoke of “accepting an 8th place finish because we’re losing it” and of how “disgusted” they were that we didn’t win the FA Cup. I understand fans want us to be competitive in every competition and they are absolutely right to feel that way but accusations of apathy towards the tournament are bordering on ridiculous, the players want to win every game, maybe they showed less desire than in the league but it was a changed side with a much greater priority. The mindless speculation then began to set in with those claiming that Chris Wood had fallen out with the manager, in-fighting is rife in the dressing room and that the manager who has us on the brink of the automatic promotion places should be axed. Mindless speculation that can only hinder the club in our pursuit of the Premier League, all of it stemming from ‘fans’.
It’s disappointing to go through a bad spell following the purple patch City had experienced at the turn of the year and you’d be well within your rights to be annoyed at the decreasing standard in performance but when you apply a little perspective, the situation is far from crisis level. This time last season we were in 12th place, 11 points worse off and five wins away from second place. Last term, we struggled to string two straight wins together and now with a record of 5-1-2 in the last 8 games, fans are booing the players out of the ground.
We have our fate in our own hands, we are in an excellent position to win automatic promotion, we have the squad, the manager and the support now all we need is faith and patience not to throw the toys out of the pram over a dip in our performance. Realistically, the worst case scenario this season is a place in the play-offs, an opportunity the vast majority of fans would have taken without a second thought at the start of the campaign.
We now have six days until our next league fixture. Six days for Pearson to correct the faults in our team that have been exposed in the last two outings. The defeat last night means the Peterborough game cannot be written off as fluke defeat, the players have been given a kick up the backside and the fans have laid down the gauntlet. In six days, we go again, at home to mid-table Charlton Athletic, with an outside chance of Chris Wood returning to the line-up so let’s forget the nightmares of last night, focus on the positives, remain calm and keep the faith.