RELEGATION is now becoming more of a reality than a possibility for Cork City as Neale Fenn’s side sit bottom of the table with just seven league games remaining.
There was always the possibility City were going to be in a relegation battle at the start of the season but what will worry the supporters is the lack of fight the team are showing at this time.
Their result against Shamrock Rovers wasn’t surprising.
Rovers are the best team in the country and City are a team low in confidence but it’s the lack of effort in the game from the City players that is concerning.
City find themselves in a relegation battle with Finn Harps and at best, will manage to end up in a relegation playoff.
Unlike City, Harps have players who seem to relish the battle and if I were to bet on which side will get that relegation playoff spot, I would back Ollie Horgan’s team.
Harps have been in this situation before and the players they have in their side always knew this season would be a struggle and they would have to fight for every point.
Some of the City players seem to think that everything will be fine and eventually, they will get the results that will get them out of trouble but time is running out and the penny needs to drop with some of those players who think they are better than what they are.
What will get City out of trouble is hard work if the City players are willing to put the effort in to get the team out of danger.
Looking back on the Rovers game, it was clear that City had a plan to press Rovers and it worked until Stephen Bradley’s side scored.
After the first goal, City collapsed and seemed to give up. Of course, it is tough going a goal behind to the best team in the country and not having a crowd to spur them on but that doesn’t give some of the players the excuse to stop trying.
The minimum every player should do is run themselves into the ground but once Rovers scored, City seemed to accept that they weren’t going to get something from the game.
The loan players with City have been accused of not caring because their futures aren’t determined by whether the Rebel Army avoid relegation or not but I don’t think any footballer doesn’t care.
Yes, when on-loan, players are probably less concerned about the future of the club but that doesn’t mean they want a relegation on their CV.
I know the players that are on-loan and they definitely care, it’s just that it’s their first-time playing men’s football and they are inexperienced in how to deal with the current situation they find themselves in.
Football can drain a player mentality and physically and sometimes that lack of energy can make a player look like he doesn’t care when he actually does.
There is clearly a lack of confidence in the squad and some players need to take responsibility and be leaders but unfortunately, very few players are capable of doing that at this moment.
That doesn’t mean players won’t step up in the remaining games but they need to do it sooner rather than later.
There is still hope for City. Fenn’s philosophy is for his team to pass the ball and play out from the back.
It’s the right way to play the game, however, when you are in a relegation battle it’s about getting the points on the board. The former Longford Town manager has to sacrifice his beliefs and get the team playing ugly football.
City need victories but firstly they need to be hard to beat.
Injuries have forced Fenn to shuffle his backline but the City manager will be hoping to have Joseph Olowu back soon and his return should tighten up the defence.
Conor Simpson seems like he could be a real handful for defenders. The striker was isolated against Rovers but made life uncomfortable for the Hoop’s defenders when City did decide to use him.
Perhaps, the best option for City is to have someone quick-playing alongside the striker and go more direct to the former Preston North End player.
It might not be pretty on the eye but I believe it would be very effective and could be the tactic that ensures City’s survival in the league.