There's a clip that they continually show on Sky Sports where Any Gray (one of my favourite football commentators) says "It's just gets better and better" It sounds a bot more like It just gets betta and betta in a Scottish accent.
Andy Gray would have been out of place at The Valley yesterday, as it's just getting worse and worse. A week ago I was trying to conclude that two wins at home and two draws away with a couple of defeats in that run, where we had just one fit centre half, was a promising sign. You would now have to conclude that the wins against Palace (a local derby where anything can happen) and Plymouth (the most inadequate performance I've seen from any side other than ours for a very long time) coupled with a draw against Barnsley (only one win this year) and Swansea (not a bad result) were just a blip.
It is clear that we have gone backwards (a long way backwards) since Pardew left. Suddenly I have a lot less anger with him taking a pay off when he was sacked. He will be remembered for being part of this season, but at this point I feel he could be tarnished with the results of his successor in a way that isn't really fair.
Don't get me wrong, Pardew was responsible for signing so many players on top Championship money that are probably third division players, but we were only just in trouble when he left. He also signed Racon and Bailey. I am sick of saying it, but the Parkinson appointment can be pointed to as the event that has probably put this club back a decade. I don't think we had a nailed on promotion squad this season, but when history is written I suspect it will be a very long time now before we have a squad as likely to win 'our place' in the Premier League back as we had in August.
I also believe that had Pardew been kept on we would have significantly more points than we have now. There I've said it. Despite my calls for him to be removed I think we had a much better manager then than we have now. The basic facts cannot lie, Pardew had several of his players sold in the summer and he had to rebuild. With the squad that Pardew started the season he won 16 points in 18 games. He had no more of ZZ and a lot less of Racon than Parkinson has had. Parkinson has managed 11 points in his 18 games and as well as having Racon available (one of our best players currently) he has brought in a total of seven loan players, two permanent signings and has only lost Luke Varney (no great loss there), Bouazza and the two Portsmouth defenders who's loans finished.
We have only increased the squad with two players that are now permanent. I am not sure how long Burton signed for so he may be finished at the end of this season. Matthew Spring looked ok for a couple of games but he seems, now, to be affected with the same malaise that the rest of the squad has. Maybe that's not down to the manager, but when players come in and look good only for them to go backwards under the supervision of our coaching team the situation needs to be looked at.
Looking at the rest of the squad there are no outstanding improvements in any of the areas or the players. Nicky Bailey, the only real success story of this season, was improving under Pardew. you could say that Bailey's performances this season are in spite of the management/coaching rather than as a result of it. Mou2 has been banished, as has Basey and Youga is playing like he wants to be. The two fit centre halves played together at Palace, and they don't look too bad, but they have just let in five goals in two games. Ward has only been here a few weeks, I'm sure that by the end of April he will also look like a conference player in the making. I will add that despite his injury problems Murty was an inspired signing, and he did well in every minute of every game he played, but at 31 it is unlikely that Parkinson would be able to destroy his game in such a short amount of time.
The midfield has seen Racon come in, and he is a class act. That aside, we have failed to utilise the leadership qualities of Matt Holland when the team has been literally screaming out for some. Spring has been worse than adequate yet he seems a nailed on starter. Soares had one good game (against Palace) and has been just about average since then. Chris Dickson had a couple of good games then produced a stinker and was dropped from the squad (al a Pardew) and Jonjo Shelvey must already be wishing he'd not signed that contract.
Up front we loaned out McLeod (not necessarily a bad idea) but then found ourselves with Gray injured for the rest of the season and Kandol missing two games. I know we have had some limitations, but yesterday was the first time a recognised striker scored for us since the 15th of December. That was also the only other game in the 18 league games Parkinson has been in charge that a striker scored from open play. So nothing impressive to report from the forward department either.
If this was Parkinson's school report he would be dreading showing it to his parents, but his reward is likely to be the opportunity to try all over again next season which could destroy us. Parkinson is, at this point, in a no lose situation. If we win promotion next season he will no doubt be given another contract. If we fail miserably he will no doubt be paid for the rest of the season to reorganise his flower beds.
I have little interest in appointing blame, even thought I said back in November that Parkinson should be given a game or two, but at this point there is little doubt that he is not the man that should have been given the job of getting us out of trouble. I seriously doubt that he is the man to try to get us back in to the second division in 2009/10. Just for the record I am happy to be the first to say that I don't think he is the man to get us promoted back to the third division in 2010/11.
At the end of next season we will be, at best, in the third division and planning for the second division. At worse we will be planning for our third relegation in four years. This is when the next World Cup takes place. In 2006 (just three years ago) we had two players that only just missed out on going to Germany. Something tells me we will not have two full England Internationals in our squad when they leave for South Africa.
How times have changed eh?
Up the Addicks!