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Ryan was not wrong with his foresight
1:30pm Thursday 5th December 2013 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
WHEN Dean Ryan took over as director of rugby at Worcester Warriors, he admitted there would be no short cut to success.
“It will be a tough season — let’s not be naïve,” he said back in May.
But I don’t think anybody expected it to be this tough, with Warriors having lost all nine of their Aviva Premiership matches to date.
Whatever the long-term vision for Warriors was, I’m sure it didn’t include another foray into the Championship, which is where they are currently headed.
There might be signs of improvements on the pitch but closing the 10-point chasm that exists between the Sixways side and the rest of the division becomes harder by the week.
If Worcester avoid relegation this season it really would be a remarkable achievement.
While some will rightly say that two bonus-point victories would put Warriors back in touch, getting them might be a little trickier. Not least because they haven’t scored four tries in a Premiership match yet.
There is also the added pressure that comes with having to win matches when you know the margin for error is getting less and less.
When you have already lost to four of the five teams above you in the table and face the other, Gloucester, in the next league game, that is increased further, particularly in the reverse fixtures.
Warriors are up against it, they know that, and it will be interesting to see whether Ryan’s belief that his team is improving comes to fruition in the weeks ahead.
But the threat of relegation looms and that can’t be ingored, not almost half-way through the campaign.
It wouldn’t be a case of taking a backward step in order to take two forward either. It would set the club back, like it did the last time.
Relegation would mean smaller crowds, and therefore less money.
Warriors would hope to keep hold of players but inevitably some would move on.
Andy Goode came in despite the club’s relegation to the Championship for 2010-11.
However, it would be natural for some of the better ones to shop around.
Captain Jonathan Thomas, while out of the Welsh international picture, would likely still be an asset to most Premiership clubs.
Full-back Chris Pennell has been fiercely loyal to his hometown club but his performances this term will have caught the eye of potential suitors.
He also harbours England recognition.
His signing of a new contract until June 2017 is a major boost, but the cynic in me suggests it would just mean more compensation for Warriors if he was prised away.
Like Ryan said, there are tough times ahead and it would be naïve to suggest otherwise.
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