So, I survived a 20 degree night alone in the wilderness, with all the bears, freezing weather, coyotes, cold-induced headaches, and whatnot. I come back to watch truly miserable football. What has happened to this team? What has it lost? The last month and a half have been painful to watch, painful to cheer for.
If I did not know better, I would have sworn that our players were playing in two-inch grass, while Madrid had a smooth field. How many passes did we leave short? We were playing scared, and it showed. The confidence was gone. There was no belief that we would win. The players have not looked like they have enjoyed their play in ages.
I have not come to a definite feeling on this one way or the other, but I am wondering if Pellegrini might be getting a bit stale. Coaches often do, after 3 or 4 years. Simply put, even when we were winning this year, it was not great play. Looking back, there were a lot of very close matches with much lower competition - and in reality, a lot of luck. Luck and confidence can carry you a long way, but then when a chink in the armor shows up (the Aalborg match), things can fall apart quickly. And they have.
Don't get me wrong. I am not calling for Pellegrini's head. He has been amazing with Villarreal and I believe he has the capacity to pull the team out of its current funk. But he needs to do it soon, if we want any chance of qualifying for Europe in any fashion for next year. Without Europe, we lose our best players, and in reality, a lot of money.
Perhaps I am being too pessimistic. We will see. The one thing that could make things look a bit rosier: trouncing Valencia.