Editorial: It’s The Hope That Kills You

Blues pushed themselves deeper into the relegation mire on Tuesday night, falling to a gutless 1-0 defeat at home to Middlesbrough. While the defeat hasn’t cost the club any league places the game in hand advantage is now gone with Blues only one point outside the bottom three.

This is the third time I’ve tried to write this article. After the defeats to Southampton and Millwall I sat down and tried to write a positive article about how we’re not done for yet and how we need to remain positive in the face of adversity.

Sitting at home ten minutes after getting home from that performance, it’s very hard to feel any positivity at all.

The boos at half time and full time said it all.

The frustration of fans at the ground became palpable as time and time again the ball was lost before a cross was put in or a shot was taken.

It’s hard to blame the sheer number of supporters who left the ground long before the additional time board was held aloft.

We’ve all seen this story before one too many times; even when Ruddy went up for a late free kick we all knew deep down that it would come to nothing.

And yet, in my heart I still had hope we could do something. That a ricochet would rebound off someone’s head, someone’s foot, someone’s arse even and go in.

It’s the hope that kills you.

At the start of this season, I expected so much more. The buzz around the ground was incredible; people rocked up to the first game a couple of hours early in excitement of the start of the new era.

There were good times too.

Bristol City away was one of the best away performances I’ve seen by a Blues team. We had purpose, we had vision. We had exciting players who were going to take us to the next level.

And in typical Blues fashion, the club managed to shoot itself in the feet spectacularly.

It was obvious from the get-go that Knighthead would want their own man; it was a bit shit that the timing to get their man cheap meant that John Eustace was fired after two great home wins.

Like most Blues fans, I wanted Rooney to succeed even if he wasn’t my choice of manager.

At the Open House he was open and engaging, nothing like his on-screen demeanour. His video footage of training showed what he was trying to do – but it was evident players were struggling to replicate it on the pitch.

As the results went from bad to worse, the atmosphere at games started getting toxic. Hope was once again turning to fear, uncertainty and doubt.

After the 0-0 draw with Bristol City, I walked into town incensed at what I’d seen. While we hadn’t lost, it was evident that all belief was gone from the team.

I did something I’m not proud of. I sent a message to someone I knew high up at the club, imploring them to sack Rooney.

I reasoned that while Rooney had not had much time, it was evident that all the good work that had been done behind the scenes was being undone and that fans were once again turned to apathy.

Clearly, I wasn’t the only person who had been concerned by the way the club was going, as Rooney was to be sacked three days later after a rough 3-0 defeat away to Leeds.

This time, the wheels turned slowly to appoint a manager. However, this time Knighthead went with someone who knew the division and was respected in the game.

With the appointment of Mowbray, I felt belief once again.

It’s the hope that kills you.

Once again, Blues looked like they were going to pull themselves out of it. A win away to Stoke City showed some of the skill in the side with both Jay Stansfield and Juninho Bacuna scoring in a very enjoyable win.

At home to Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland we picked up six points which lofted us into midtable and seemingly out of trouble.

And then once again, there was a twist in the tale for Blues.

Tony Mowbray, our Tony Fantastico had to take a step back to have medical treatment and recover from something picked up in a routine health check.

Injuries and suspensions ensured the team were light in central defence. Up front Blues were reliant on Jay Stansfield due to the trio of Oli Burke, Scott Hogan and Keshi Anderson finding themselves in the football wildnerness.

Once again, the team has struggled to put together performances. A run of four games in ten days has seen Blues pick up one point, and all of a sudden we’re deeply in the relegation shit.

The more shrill members of the fanbase have started pushing for another caretaker or interim coach to come in while Mowbray recovers – because change has done so well for us already this season.

Somehow players seem to have lost the art of finding another blue shirt with a pass. Shots and crosses seem too scary and instead Blues have been trying to play intricate passes to unlock teams with the inevitable result of just losing the ball.

Come the last game before the international break and we know for sure we’re in trouble. Blues are down from 11/1 to just 3/1 against going down with the bookies.

Fans openly fear where the next point is going to come from.

And yet, somehow, Blues fans still turn up to watch. Somehow, Blues fans still have the belief that something good might happen.

It’s the hope that kills you.

Lots of people online are groping for answers on how Blues can start winning games.

I can’t say I know what those answers are because I just don’t.

Somehow, the team has got to find some belief in itself again and has got to find some guts to play as best as they can.

Somehow, the coaching staff need to find a way to get the players to concentrate on getting the basics right; to defend stoutly, to attack with urgency and purpose and to shoot on target to score goals.

As many coaching and managerial changes as we’ve seen this season, I don’t think further changes are going to help us now.

Likewise, I don’t think us complaining about crap referees or about shoddy linesmen is going to make a difference to our cause.

The only thing I think we do have now is hope.

Hope that in the nine remaining games, Blues can find enough to stay the right side of the relegation trapdoor.

Belief that in the next six weeks or so Blues can pull themselves together enough to offer more of a fight on the pitch.

Most importantly, I think we need to hope that there is enough shown from the players that encourages the fans to encourage the players further.

Cheap tickets can only do so much to fill a ground.

Without belief that the team can score goals and win, the only reason left to attend is out of obligation to the cause.

An obligation that will fade into resentment as the harshness of cost-of-living issues, family commitments and apathy strike.

It can’t once again be the hope that kills.

I apologise this piece is a bit personal and a bit meta, but sometimes I have to get out the feelings I’m feeling in the only way I can.

Sometimes, while I can and do acknowledge the bad stuff I have to try to offer a reason that it could be better.

Because without hope, there is no point.