As the season has lurched from one disappointment to the next the mood amongst the fans has changed from alarm, to disgruntlement, and eventually to a state of apathy which has seen average attendances fall below 6,000 for the first time since we returned to the Football League. The expectation of success that has been an ever-present ever since Chris Wilder initially reversed the club's fortunes has dissipated quickly this season and with Oxford being one of the most expensive clubs to follow in League Two, can we really blame those thousands for staying away when the product on offer is so poor?
And if calls for Wilder's head seem somewhat more subdued at this point than they did earlier in the season, it is probably due to the sense of resignation that little will change rather than any deep underlying faith that he can turn this season around.
But we can't ignore the cyclical nature of this apathy. If recent subdued atmospheres can be said to be a reaction to events on the pitch, equally we can say that the players can have little motivation to perform for an apathetic fanbase who make no attempt to create an atmosphere. Despite our best intentions we can't change much from the stands, we can't go out on the pitch and put the ball in the net no matter how much we may want to. All we can do is try to create the best atmosphere possible to motivate our players and intimidate the opposition, no matter how difficult that may seem at the moment.
Which is why this year's Ultimate Support Saturday has come at just the right time. Something desperately needs to change to turn this season around and we have seen precious little evidence that the necessary change will be generated by the players, the manager, or the chairman. So perhaps it is up to us fans to act as the catalyst; to turn up in numbers, create a positive atmosphere and demonstrate our support, to motivate the players and foster a winning mentality from the stands.
The Priory pub is doing its bit. They're running a special Ultimate Support Saturday offer on food and drink to help fuel the fans on Saturday, pre- and post-match. And what better place to get the party atmosphere started than at the unofficial supporters club? Why not get the songs going pre-match in the Priory, take the atmosphere with us into the stadium, and then return for a victory celebration after the game?
To those who say they would rather stay away until the manager/chairman/players/mascot is gone, Ultimate Support Saturday is not about supporting any particular regime and it's not about furthering any particular agenda. Furthermore, it's certainly not a show of support for the way things are at the moment. Instead it is a demonstration of fan-power. A good showing on Saturday, with a supportive and intimidating atmosphere, could serve far more strongly to show those concerned what they could have if things were going as they should be and could prove to be just the spark needed to set the wheels in motion to reverse the current malaise around the club.
If nothing else, creating a good atmosphere has to be more fun than sitting in silence. Even if the football is still crap, wouldn't we rather get beaten and still have fun, than get beaten and suffer through it miserably?
So make the effort to come on Saturday and try to convince as many of the stayaways to come as well. The results on the pitch may not improve, but Ultimate Support Saturday could just help to rekindle your love for the club.