November Rain

Last updated : 23 November 2004 By Keith Allman
After the high of beating Manchester United, it seemed like the only way was up. Exciting young players, brilliant attacking football, a backroom team with a common aim - what could POSSIBLY go wrong. Yet November dawns, and it all goes downhill.

Fans have not been slow to register their disgust at the situation. As Manchester City tucked in their third goal, the ground quickly emptied of 10,000 paying customers. Phone-ins, messageboards and letters pages were full of angry rantings about the state of the club - the state of a club supposedly who had "now arrived" in the Premiership only three weeks earlier following the victory over the Red Devils.

But let's take a step back here. As surely as death and taxes, our form dipping as winter comes is unavoidable. Last season, we were in a healthy 11th place before November. Hell, even in the middle of the month, we saw off Leeds United 6-1. From there on it was freefall as we failed to win in six games, home defeats at the hands of Everton and Leicester, plus two derby defeats to Southampton. Even in the Championship season our form began to dip as the Christmas lights went up - the first home defeat of the season, four draws in a row - admittedly not bad in the general context of league football, but for a team who had conquered all before them previously, unthinkable!

Going as far back as 99/00, where we managed a collosal two points out of a possible twenty-one in the month of November, the statistics seem to prove the same point - we're not much cop when the year draws to an end. The big question really is - why?! Injuries and suspension? The enthusiasm for a new season dies down? The cold weather puts off the foreign big time charlies? Other teams gel together and turn out to be much better than us?

Whatever the case, I wouldn't worry too much. Regardless of players, manager, incidents off the pitch, even what league we're playing in, we have a habit of starting well, dying in the middle, and then blitzing the final third. Just look forward to that in these less successful days.