It may only be their 12th game of the SWPL season, but it does feel like Glasgow City must beat Rangers on Sunday to revitalise their title hopes.
My former club, who are the reigning league champions, currently sit third in the table on 24 points – trailling second-placed Celtic by seven points and Rangers by eight.
Although City have played one game fewer, it is concerning to see such a gap already opening up, and a loss on Sunday would see them move further away from the top.
They have experienced disappointment already this season by failing to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League, having had a good opportunity to do so, and were knocked out of the Sky Sports Cup in a 3-0 defeat to Celtic last Friday.
To me, City look like they are a little bit lost.
When I watch Rangers and Celtic, I feel like there identity is much clearer and you can see what they are trying to do.
But City have been far too inconsistent.
City were in a very comfortable position last season with a considerable points advantage over their rivals, which they eventually let slip, and the title was only decided in the dying minutes on final day.
It went from being a very safe position to all of sudden there being a very big chance silverware was going to elude them entirely for the second successive season.
It is hard to pinpoint the reasons why City have been underperforming, but part of it could be down to how the squad’s character and resilience have been affected.
When I was at City there was the mindset of ‘we will not get beat’ and I think this mantra has been really tested over the last year or so because they have suffered costly defeats.
And I think that has benefited their opposition, too. Teams know City are not the same beast as they used to be.
City used to have the advantage of their own strength and knowing the teams they played feared them – I don’t think that is the case as much these days.
The SWPL’s top-three squads are very comparable level-wise, but beyond that it comes down to application and desire.
I spoke to City forward Lauren Davidson on my BBC podcast last week and she spoke about how she has not scored as much goals in the “big” games as she would have liked and hopes to bring that to her game.
Improvements are needed, especially against City’s title rivals, and last week’s 3-0 cup defeat to Celtic was unacceptable by the club’s standards.
However, you can’t ever count City out.
But this Sunday’s game at Petershill Park against Rangers comes with high-stakes for my former team, as it would be a huge task to make up 11 points.
It’s not impossible and the split opens things up. The top three will have the chance to take points off each other twice more, but that works both ways – the gap can be closed or increase even more.
Although this will be a testing period early on in her managerial career, I do think Leanne Ross is the right person to continue to lead City.
I thought it at the time and I still think it now that appointing Leanne was the best option for everyone. Glasgow City is a family club and there are not many people who understand the expectation and culture at the club as much as Leanne does.
It is a job which comes with a lot of pressure and I’m sure right now she is feeling that, but, for me, it is about finding the right way to get the most out of her players.
With this being her first job in management, I am sure Leanne is working on different ways to drive the standards up at City and the different approaches which might be needed to do that.
This weekend does come with pressure – which I am sure the players are feeling – but it is an enormous chance to put a marker down and build on going forward this season.
Refereeing controversy in Champions League
The Uefa Women’s Champions League group stages started this week and refereeing decisions made the headlines after Chelsea’s clash away to Real Madrid.
Real Madrid were awarded a penalty to level the game at 2-2 after Chelsea had come from 1-0 down to take the lead, before Emma Hayes’ side were denied a late winner for offside.
The penalty was not a penalty. Jessie Fleming did make contact on Athenea del Castillo, but it was very clearly outside the box.
As for the disallowed goal, Niamh Charles was very clearly onside – but it was disallowed as the Real Madrid goalkeeper was deemed to have been impacted by an interfering Sam Kerr, who was in an offside position.
I don’t believe Sam affected the goalkeeper.
I do think there would an argument the defender may have defended the situation differently as Sam went for the ball, but the officials’ decision was she interfered with the goalkeeper, not the defender, in an offside position.
But it is hard to keep seeing referees criticised so heavily.
There are so many reasonings and explanations which go into decisions, but only one person is usually scapegoated.
Real Madrid v Chelsea is a tie of the highest level. There are not many matches that are bigger than that.
It involved world-class players and would have been of a higher level than Danish referee Frida Klarlund is used to officiating week in and week out.
If anyone in any job is tasked to do something at a far superior level then, of course, they are going to make mistakes.
It is not an excuse, but a reminder of why more needs to be done to professionalise our officiating.
More needs to be done because these decisions can impact the outcome of games.
I feel like we are at a point where the speed and the growth of the women’s game in some respects is highlighting how far behind other aspects of our sport are.