Let's put aside first the fact that this is clearly the most important opposition of the season. After failing to beat ten men for an hour and throwing away two leads at home this was a terribly important game ignoring the season. However, as I said we are going to put that aside for now - don't worry I'll come back to it.
We played a team that were 7th at the start of the month. We are now merely one point above them and this game has moved our goal difference from being six better to being two worse. Thus this was potentially a massive game even if we ignore that it was our local rivals. A 1-0 win for us today and we would be 7 points and 8 goals (difference) above Millwall who would have been in 6th place. Thus we lost (badly) a game that was going to have a real impact on our season. This could well turn out to be the result that means we miss out on the playoffs.
If we finish 7th and Millwall finish 6th we will look back on this game, and probably the one in December and will feel out blood boil.
I wasn't there today, so I can't really comment on the performance. I can't help but feel a little dramatic about it, but to be honest I would have bet my mortgage that we would have lost this game so I'm hardly surprised and not really all that disappointed. The score is a little embarrassing, but as there are no Millwall fans in my group of social contacts I am not going to take any stick for it, so if we do end up being promoted at the end of the season I will be able to just forget it - especially if Millwall don't join us in going up.
The worrying thing though is that despite Parkinson continually telling us that this side has character, it is clear that we don't have any. This is a worry for the playoffs. The big games have been a problem. Pardew was always telling us that we needed more mental strength, and he was right. Sadly, despite being told otherwise Parkinson hasn't solved this problem.
I know we have won a few games with late goals this season, but to be honest that could well be as much to do with the opposition tiring and being anxious. In the same way that we conceded late goals last season these sides that find themselves in a winning, or drawing, position against Charlton (the former Premier League side) these third division sides sit deeper and deeper and invite the late onslaught.
It is interesting to think about just how many big pressure games we have won since Parkinson took over. I can't think of many. To be fair to him I can't think of many with Pardew or Dowie either. Thus I think we have to assume that we don't have the players to raise their games when it really matters. This makes success though the playoffs seem a little unlikely, and from what I've seen in 2010 I have no reason to believe we will finish above third.
I'm not really aiming this at Parkinson. Pardew had a big budget to try to build a squad. Parkinson has had to make do with free transfers and loans. It is not fair to expect him to turn it all around with no money, even if other managers have done so.
What I am angry at, however, is that our wage bill is significantly higher than many of those sides that we don't have the strength to match. Millwall, for example, look to have a little less talent than us, but significantly more 'fight'. Not only do they look more likely to go up than us this season, they can probably keep hold of most of their players next season if they don't.
All I can assume is that we have way too many players that are just not worth what they are being paid. This will have to be addressed sooner rather than later, but I fear an extended stay in this division is looking more and more likely with each passing week.
I think what would take the pressure off is knowing that we will be ok and able to challenge for promotion next season if we fail to go up this season. Sadly I don't believe that is the case. I also struggle to believe that those running the club have the skill set to manage a successful football club. As each month passes I find myself more and more convinced that our success in the last two decades was all down to Curbishley and we have no one at the club that can turn it around.
Saturday we entertain Gillingham. We looked no better than average at their place in October, and I fear another defeat which will do nothing to remove the pressure on the manager and the players.
I wish I could think of something better to say, but I have been looking at Portsmouth in recent weeks wondering if their fans believe that their FA Cup win was the price they are paying for it now. Portsmouth could well go out of business this year, they could even be in the Cup Final again this season ironically. It is beginning to look like the fall out of our Premier League seasons may cost us almost as much. I am petrified of what will happen next season if we start next season in the third division ,and for the first time since we were relegated, I am coming round to the idea that that is what's going to happen.
And to concede 8 (eight) goals against Millwall in the league! What kind of a crock of shit is that?
Up the Addicks!