Plot strands coming together
As we have hinted at in our new series Championship Letters, the resemblance between a league season and a great work of literature is marked, and the form with which the easiest parallels can be drawn is the long, winding novel, full of unexpected developments and richly portrayed characters. Bearing this in mind, the events of Tuesday January 26 would appear to constitute the beginning of the home straight for most “readers” of the second tier – it was a day pregnant with significant happenings and telling results and one can begin to see the varying strands of a complicated plot coming together.
In South London, a minor speculator has perhaps met his comeuppance, but the overwhelming feeling is one of pathos for his dependents as well as embarrassment amongst those whose clubs will still trail Crystal Palace even after a likely ten point deduction. The selling of a prize asset in Victor Moses could allay the pain, but suitors have the Eagles over a barrel – for all the talk of 10 million fees, any move before January 31 will likely be for far fewer sovereigns than that.
Elsewhere, a decadent west London troop with low morale and fin de siècle sensibilities proved unequal to the task of stemming a Red tide, suffering humiliation on the battlefield to the tune of a 5-0 defeat. That forest of characters is now asserting itself, like the proletariat organising and agitating against a backdrop of swingeing social change. Similarly, a regional breakaway is fomenting in the west, with a raid into the closest enemy territory richly rewarded – Cardiff’s 6-0 blasting of a rudderless Bristol City was the most conspicuous result of the night.
A son who has enjoyed a lengthy honeymoon period attempting to match the achievements of a famous father is now running out of excuses, a distant trip to the south west having left him empty handed. His hosts, having reworked their coaching structure, are showing fight and tenacity, but it may be too late. Below, the citizens of an east Midland cathedral city are now readying themselves for the inevitable and the small scale royalty of Berkshire are tottering on the brink like a tenuous principality of the Holy Roman Empire. It may still be mid January, but this winter Tuesday’s events were ominous indeed.