|Tickle Tackle - The Honour Is All Theirs|
Tue 25th Mar 2008 12:32 by Steve Tickle
So... it looks like the peformance against Manchester United was the "Dead Cat Bounce" I wrote about after all.
I don't suppose anyone knows why the Rams can regularly turn in such Jekyll and Hyde performances. I certainly don't, Paul Jewell doesn't and it makes you wonder if the players themselves do. Again on Saturday, they served up another substandard performance after proving the previous Saturday that they can turn it on when it suits them. The second half performance at the Riverside was an improvement on the first half but this in itself has been a recurring theme this season.
Paul Jewell has been criticised in some quarters for not being able to motivate the players but just how much motivation do they need? They can certainly talk a good game but when it comes down to actually turning words into deeds, they're so often found wanting. Shouldn't professional players have pride in their own performance? Do they really want to finish this season with less than Sunderland's previous low of 15 points?
At the end of the day, it's up to the players to do it out there on the pitch. The coaching staff can try to motivate them all they want but ultimately, motivation comes from within. They set the bar against Manchester Utd and before that, against Liverpool at Pride Park. They've proved they have the ability (some of them are established internationals after all) but week in, week out they let themselves down.
As I've written so many times before, no true football fan will ever criticise a player for lack of ability, only lack of effort. If we do finish the season with less than 15 points but can point to having given it a real go in the remaining games then no-one can really complain (we can point to those previous games though and ask why it couldn't be done then).
Personally, I've been prepared for relegation from the very first game of the season. I was hoping however, that we could have some fun and bloody a few noses along the way. The one thing I didn't want was for us to finish 20th. Sadly, that's now inevitable but conversely, the prospect of finishing the season as the Premier League's worst ever team doesn't really bother me any more.
Criticise me if you like but I've somehow disassociated myself with this group of players. They're the ones who will have to carry the stigma of being a member of the league's worst team, not me. I can still proudly support Derby County, which is certainly not the league's worst CLUB.
Look at the tremendous support we get. Some of those players don't deserve that support. No, if we do finish with less than those 15 points, the "honour" is all the players'.
© Steve Tickle 2008
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