As the great Bill Bryson once said:
It is not true that the English invented cricket as a way of making all other human endeavours look interesting and lively; that was merely an unintended side-effect. I don't wish to denigrate a sport that is enjoyed by millions, some of them awake and facing the right way, but it is an odd game. It is the only sport that incorporates meal breaks. It is the only sport that shares its name with an insect. It is the only sport in which spectators burn as many calories as players (more if they are moderately restless). It is the only competitive activity of any type, other than perhaps baking, in which you can dress in white from head to toe and be as clean at the end of the day as you were at the beginning.
Imagine a form of baseball in which the pitcher, after each delivery, collects the ball from the catcher and walks slowly with it out to centre field; and that there, after a minute's pause to collect himself, he turns and runs full tilt towards the pitcher's mound before hurling the ball at the ankles of a man who stands before him wearing a riding hat, heavy gloves of the sort used to handle radioactive isotopes, and a mattress strapped to each leg. Imagine moreover that if this batsman fails to hit the ball in a way that heartens him sufficiently to waddle sixty feet with mattresses strapped to his legs he is under no formal compulsion to run; he may stand there all day, and, as a rule, does. If by some miracle he is coaxed into making a miss-stroke that leads him to being put out, all the fielders throw up their arms in triumph and have a big hug. Then tea is called and everyone retires happily to a distant pavilion to fortify for the next siege. Now imagine all this going on for so long that by the time the match concludes autumn has crept in and all your library books are overdue. There you have cricket.
Perversely, I think we might win this one. Warnock seems to be able to say all the right things to the players before games against good teams, and he'll know how to outfox Mick McCarthy. I imagine there are some angry players in our dressing room after that Monk-esque performance against Bristol City, and I could see us coming out of the blocks with a point to prove.
However, a win is irrelevant to our promotion chances, because we'll then fall apart against Coventry and get embarrassed again. Rinse, repeat.
Saturday 27th February 3PM
Barnsley v Millwall H
Birmingham v QPR D
Blackburn v Coventry H
Brentford v Stoke H
Luton v Sheffield Wed D
Middlesbrough v Cardiff A
Preston v Huddersfield H
Rotherham v Reading A
Swansea v Bristol City H
Wycombe v Norwich A
I don't know anywhere near enough about St Pauli or Bundesliga 2 to really say if it means anything, but I notice Stojanovic has only kept 1 clean sheet in his 8 games there, letting in 13 goals.
In the same period Bettinelli has played 10 homes, kept 2 clean sheets, and let in 16.
Fairly similar statistically, though I've not actually watched their games and I imagine Stojanovic made more saves in that period.