OPINION: Perspective through pain as Stags are crushed
The sound of fingernails scratching down a chalkboard, a tooth being ripped out by a psychotic dentist, Christmas shoppers, stubbing your toe and that mate who always insists on murdering '˜Wonderwall' on karaoke '“ all prime definitions and examples of the word '˜excruciating'.
None however, come close to Saturday, 14th October 2017 – Mansfield Town 1, Swindon Town 3.
A second gutless and below-par performance on a whole saw Mansfield Town crushed like a paper cup under the boot of a giant.
From the very first whistle, there seemed to be no life behind the eyes of our players and, other than a brief spell between the first and second goal, the Stags looked nothing other than a team of rabbit-in-the-headlight-like zombies with concrete boots – and that is simply not good enough.
Do I want Steve Evans to leave? No. Do I think he will? Not unless it’s for a top 10 League One club or any Championship side.
Do I want Steve Evans to drop this vendetta-like line of answers towards the fans? Yes.
It’s like when your missus says ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ – you’re just digging yourself a hole really!
Can we turn things around? Of course! Every team has a bad spell.
It’s fair to say that performance-wise we are well within ours with four out of the past five games being really lacklustre displays.
We are missing some key figures which give us that fire and flare.
Joel Byrom for one has been a big loss in getting us moving box to box whilst the creativity of Alfie Potter is also missing, as is a defined leader.
When the chips are down, everyone is looking around passing the buck and causing the cracks to widen.
Steve Evans made an obvious but subtle dig at the fans in his post-match comments, stating some of his players had ‘stagefright’ in fear of what response they got.
He’s right. We look okay when we show fluidity and movement, but as soon as we go without the ball for more than two or three minutes and the ball gets near our box, we look frightened and sure enough – like a delicate game of family classic ‘Operation’, the buzzer goes berserk and it’s game over.
His comments of ‘Me and Paul need to evaluate what we’re doing’ won’t have helped because in the wake of such defeat, it’ll be taken as ‘basically we’re going to Gillingham’ – whereas realistically it’s a look at their approach to training and game management, because clearly ruling with an iron fist is simply not working.
The players are in a pressure pot and when they step out on the pitch, must feel like they’re playing on thin ice.
On Saturday they looked petrified of falling into the murky waters below for an ice cold swim with a shark or four.
They also look embarrassed. Every time Evans berates the fourth official and/or referee, the players look like schoolboys in the playground as their overbearing mother shouts ‘love you pumpkin, have a good day’ and blows kisses over the fence.
I have had to laugh over some of the comments through social media since the match, where I posted similar comments.
Just because I’m highlighting the negatives, doesn’t mean I don’t believe that the end of the season won’t end in success!
We have the quality and the ability to deliver – the desire is the question right now.
But if ever there was a time to show that togetherness and want to win games, it’s trips to Barnet and Newport in the space of five days – after all they say football is a long and winding road.
It’s time to find out where ours leads!