Written by David Bak
‘Never in doubt’ is what everyone usually says when we stay up – tongues wedged firmly in cheeks. On most of these occasions, we’ve been in doubt for about 89 of the 90 minutes. This time though, at last, the phrase can be uttered without any irony whatsoever.
I can seldom remember a day like Sunday when supporting Blues. Familiar failings reared their head against QPR but the final day was the most un-Blues-like experience imaginable. I have to confess, I’m still a bit confused about it. Two-nil up at half-time against the form team in the whole of England? Our rivals conceding early? Batting off a Fulham revival with ease and confirming the victory with a third goal?
It was all very surreal and the spotless blue sky only added to the dream-like setting. It all seemed too perfect. A week’s worth of nervous energy had built up inside me in anticipation of the standard frantic finish and it just didn’t happen. I can feel the adrenaline kicking around inside me two days later, no idea what to do with itself. I hope it doesn’t all come out at once; I think I’d run to Windsor.
Looking back on it though, we won the mental battle in the first few kicks. The Fulham contingent had expected a cakewalk against cannon fodder, but they soon realised we’d turned the barrel back in their direction. Sitting close to the pitch, it was clear to see the away team growing more and more ashen-faced as they slowly understood the task that lay ahead of them.
We showed a greater ability to turn up when it really mattered than one of the league’s best teams and I think that’s the most remarkable part of this story. Let’s just visualise what this team was like before Christmas. Picture those lifeless, desperate days, and then compare them to what we saw on Sunday. For Garry Monk to get that display from the exact same players is an absolute triumph.
You know what though? This week for the first time since his arrival, I found myself doubting him and doubting the players too. I felt it right up until 12:29 pm on Sunday in fact – his starting-eleven hadn’t convinced me at all. For that hour before the game, all I could picture was Maikel Kieftenbeld and David Davis getting absolutely annihilated and Wes having a real confidence-sapper against one of the brightest young sparks in the game. All of them, to a man, proved me categorically wrong.
This is precisely why I think we may be on the cusp of something special. Of course, we were still going to be inconsistent, but the peak of our performances under Monk have been top-six worthy. If he can get us reaching those levels more often than not, who knows what could happen?
Even if the mooted Financial Fair Play sanctions come to fruition, it won’t dampen my optimism one iota. This squad is full of people that seem to genuinely like each other and the chemistry is evident. If we can maintain the majority of them and couple that with astute recruitment in the right areas, there is no reason they can’t be pushing for the greatest prize of all.
By far the most important factor, though, is the newfound connection between everyone at the club. The players, staff and fans are together in a way we very rarely see. I personally can’t remember feeling like this since Steve Bruce’s early Premier League years. Of course, it’s still in its embryonic stages but this type of goodwill and synergy at a club is exactly what promotion seasons are made of. It’s up to Messrs Monk, Clotet and Beattie to keep it going.
This wouldn’t be complete though without a tribute to the heartbeat of this club: the fans. What an absolute credit to the Second City we were, and have been all season. I don’t know of any other set of supporters who could have withstood the cold slop Steve Cotterill served us and still rejoined the queue to go back for more. We were totally relentless in our support and we got our reward at the end of the road.
I have never been more grateful to have won the football fan lottery in supporting Blues. We can finally look forward to the future and what a future it could be. Youth, togetherness, aggression, vision, and finally some genuine belief.
Let’s get those season tickets confirmed as soon as we possibly can. With everybody pulling in the same direction, let’s hope we can achieve something Biblical – with a Monk in the dugout we’ve got every chance.