Merry sodding Christmas

Well, I sort of got to finally see our first team play, even if it was through the use of the FF button on my remote. Jampot went one stage further into the gates of hellfire and actually watched the game in person. His thoughts below, mine afterwards…


I saw MMK play… and that was as good as it got!

And lo it became to behold that on the 2nd day of Christmas from afar came a group of men dressed in gold who did want to disrupt the joyous festive spirit of all those in the Sky who came to watch the spectacle. And they did leave verily happily with their desired 3 pts.

And that’s as festive as I can be. Now, I don’t want to be a depressive around Christmas but…. well, as Disunited 0 United 2 proved yet again, nothing has changed. And that is what IS SO depressing. The score line could easily be written again as Sticky 0 Taccy 2 – the Christmas Re-run!

As the people immediately behind me in the Main Stand commented – 4 generations of Dons fans – you come here every other week and see exactly the same – as we have for the last 2-3 months. OK. I am boring people with this but it just keeps happening like the re-runs:

– a defence that plays too deep giving up territory easily without a fight;

– a front line that is at least one player too light and spends too much time helping out….;

– a midfield struggling to cover the massive great big hole in the middle of the park between defence and attack, that we as fans can see in front of us every home game that invites the opposition midfield to have free reign to run at us

So what happens? A run at our defence in space, THREE missed tackles and Constable gets a shot away, and inevitably scores! 0-1. You can see it coming. Every bloody time. And that’s why it’s boring.

It’s the inevitability of knowing that outcome that is so frightening. But what is beginning to get questioned a lot, particularly in my section of the Main Stand by many is if we – the fans – can see it happening week in and week out, why can’t TB and his bench? I mean he is pretty much opposite us on the other side of this gaping chasm. Or if he can see it, then why doesn’t he do something about it? It’s been almost 3 months since our last home win and decent performance!

Football is meant to be a simple game. I obviously missed that session at school. I mean we hustled for about the first 5 mins (Luke Moore primarily) and then sat back and let them dominate the half as though they were the home team! Midson up front on his own, again…. Why? At home? It’s surrender before the battle.

Then the second goal – free header, back post. Anyone marking him? Minshall apparently, who missed the ball. But hell, we don’t have a back post player when we attack at corners so why would one of our players consider that when we defend? Simple basics.

So to the second half. What can I say?

– Wellard (left-foot) on for Jackson (right foot, but having a mare) is ok if you then don’t find Wellard playing right wing.

– Hatton – has he been told by TB NOT to cross the half-way line, like Gwillam?

– Dangerous in-swinging free kick opportunity – so let’s take that as an out-swinger then!

– A lot of huffing and puffing with little result.

– A miss by Rashid from 8 yards, off the bar (yes a miss as its not on target, which is the bit INSIDE of the bar and posts) and that was game over.

– Maybe half a dozen penalty shouts of which maybe 2 were reasonable

– And a couple of good saves by Seb and some wayward finishing by them meant we escaped at 0-2 rather than 0-5 or 0-6.

Why do we try to do the complicated when we cannot do the simple things right first?

Why is it ok for the likes of Oxford and Stanley to do these basic things – and lets face it most of what they did yesterday was the basics right, and get results – yet for us it’s like committing cardinal sin.

I wish I knew the answer. Well I suppose I do, given the above. But obviously our management team think such simple basic football is somehow morally wrong under the AFCW banner of new ways.

But perhaps the stream of people leaving before the final whistle from the Tempest said more to them than I can every say. I stayed. But then I always do. In hope something might change.

Plus points: Sammy Moore and MMK playing the whole game and ……sigh!

Minus points: The rest? Ok maybe that’s a bit harsh. What’s worrying me and a lot of others is whether this repetition is down to players who are not good enough, or the system they are playing in: 4-5-1 at home, ceding territory and momentum to the opposition within 5 minutes? I am beginning to wonder if even the players are losing faith with the systems we are playing with. For certain nothing coming from the management is working at the present. And what was the point in putting 2 subs on with 3 minutes to go? White flags might have been more appropriate.

The referee’s an… : Oxford United supporter in disguise? Well, he never gave us much all game and I am pretty sure made a hash of 2 of 6 penalty appeals we had. To crown it he booked Midson when he was accidently tripped by the opposition. Don’t think Midson even appealed but just asked what happened. I don’t think he even went down just stumbled but hey, by then, I’d given up on the details of his ‘performance’. At least Midson should have video evidence for an appeal.

Them: Solid League 2 outfit that, truthfully did ok but again you felt we gave them the game. Until they scored they were no better than us. Its just we LET THEM play the game in our half. What I did like, and for me he was man of the match of both sides was little Alfie Potter’s support of Constable who – when called upon did his job. Scored the goal. Potter was at the centre of all they did well, harrying our defenders into mistakes; taking the ball and running with it (1st goal) and if need be putting himself in the way of things. A lot of our midfield could learn a lot from his display yesterday. Only Sammy Moore came close. Shame we didn’t have Potter still in our colours today (no relation btw).

Point to ponder: At half time, 5 development team lads who’ve signed their first pro forms were introduced (see details on the OS). Of one of them – Louie Theophanous – it was said over the tannoy that: “With continued hard work it will be only a matter of time before he scores in the league for the first team.” ‘ Not if we are no longer in the league he won’t’ suggested one wag!

Three’s a crowd: 4547 which seemed low for a sellout crowd. I presume more space between our and United’s firm of 725 had to be allowed. Or maybe some people just knew…

Anything else? Congrats to the lady, who sits near me, from Brighton who won the Golden Goal £100! Pity it couldn’t have been with an AFC player scoring the goal. Maybe RogerD will invent a bigger prize for that occurrence. One day.

In a nutshell: Something – or someone – needs to change or as we really do look likely to go down this year. Anyone find anything in the sales today that might help?


To be honest, I didn’t read JP’s copy until after I had a look at the game myself, but there’s absolutely nothing to disagree with him here.

I’m going to sound like the latecomer to the AFCW Party of Doom here, but there is no way this side will survive. There appeared to be an all-round lack of League Two quality – yes, we played better in the second half, but how many times does the inferior team do that when it’s 2-0 down before the break?

OK, we should have had a penalty, or two, and D’Urso is a cunt anyway, but it happens in most games up and down the country every week. The referee didn’t cause AFC Wimbledon to lose yesterday, AFC Wimbledon caused AFC Wimbledon to lose yesterday.

We’re now up to the half-way point of the season, and it’s clear that some players aren’t going to learn. There were times yesterday watching it where OUFC did basic things well, and we didn’t. They looked smarter. We looked, well, non-league

The commentator made mentions of lack of concentration, and trying to be a bit too clever, when yet another set piece went awry. I tend not to talk about tactics, and shit like that, but Lee Minshull’s marking for the second goal was awful. But then, he was plucked from Tonbridge Angels…

We’re having to cope with a squad that is not only above its level in talent, but in mental application too. We’ve learnt some very harsh lessons since August, the main one being that the last four years mean nothing now.

Losing almost every week is bad enough, but when we seem to be constantly outsmarted too, it’s clear we need to make some monumental decisions. Does that mean sacking TB? To be honest, I don’t think releasing him now would be a good move, because you would then spend a couple of weeks in the transfer window looking for a new manager, then getting one relies on him thinking he could get something out of the current squad.

It’s better to keep TB on and give him the chance to do something but let him know he has to show sufficient improvement come February. If he doesn’t, if this slump continues to the point we will be in the bottom two, then there’s no other option. Being good in non-league means nothing if you can’t do it in the 91 Club. Ask Mark Stimson.

One has to wonder if the players are simply no longer playing for him, and they’re just playing out the games because they have to. Rohan Ricketts wrote a good article on this subject, and TB’s body language in the first half especially didn’t look good. Reportedly, our manager’s half time team talk was so loud in its ranting that Chris Wilder had to pause his own talk…

But then, is TB fully “there” himself? I don’t wish to be cruel, but it doesn’t seem co-incidental that our very real current slump has co-incided with his wife’s illness. The guy must get no relief whatsoever from anywhere – he’s under immense pressure at home, and he’s under immense pressure at work. Something has to give, and you can’t help but think that the job comes second.

How you deal with that particular situation – without being dangerously sentimental or breathtakingly callous – is a tricky one. But Erik Samuelson and co must sit TB down now and explain things in black and white to him. Forget the players, I don’t really care about them now. He needs to know that he has one big chance, because this club will suffer immense damage (financial and psychological) if we go down…

Whatever the reasons, and whatever the solutions, we had a mirror shown up to us on national TV yesterday and it showed us to be naked. It hurts, but it needs to hurt. We need to shake the complacency that we’ve got a gap between us and the bottom two. We need to get out of the mindset that we won’t go down – we certainly can, and it might be shockingly easy to do so. We need to remember we’re a club in the Football League, and not an amateur one. Although I’m convinced that some people would be happy back in non-league football.

In short, we need to start getting real. Because if we don’t, somebody will do it for us…

13 thoughts to “Merry sodding Christmas”

  1. Both of your reports are similar nature in the fact for the last couple of months we have been outclassed.
    I would concur with your observations.
    The system where you only play with one central striker doesn’t work for us, be it a 4-5-1, or a 4-3-3 formation. It didn’t really work last year with D.K up front and it is not working now.
    Mat Mitchell King looked solid, but unfortunately 1 new player can’t change our fortunes on his own. The defence did look stronger than it has done previously, but is still liable to momentary lapses in concentration, which we repeatedly get punished for.
    Sam Hatton had another poor game, he started the season strongly, but like some other team members, seems to have reverted to type.
    Yussef saw a lot of the ball early on, but gave the impression that he wasn’t very committed, stepping back from any 50-50 challenge.
    T.B. needs to get rid of 4 or 5 players from the current squad, who have had 1/2 a season to adjust to L2, but despite their best efforts are just not up to it.
    I think that focus should be put on bringing in 2 or 3 players with possible L1 experience, which in theory should make a difference to the overall quality of the squad.
    Whether were have the appeal or more importantly, the money to attract the quality of players we now need is another issue.

  2. That gap from the bottom two has whittled itself down from 13 points to 9 points in the blink of an eye. This is the time of the season teams at the bottom start to play through fear and start picking up 3 points. Except us.

    There is no such fear of relegation in this set of players we have here – the first half was the same old, lamentably poor performance and is just plain embarrassing to watch.

    We are in deep, deep relegation trouble. We are currently in deep, deep relegation trouble.

    Defensively speaking, certain players are simply nowhere near good enough for League Two. Not even close. No-one should be guaranteed to be here at the end of January, and that includes – most especially – our captain.

    Second half was better but even if we’d got those penalties (and if – a big if – we’d scored them) and got back to 2-2, Oxford would have just started full-on attacking again and torn through our tissue-paper back four. 3-2 Oxford win.

    Bad teams always find a way to lose whether they flatter to deceive as we did in the second half or whether we are just openly dire. We are a bad team.

    Our defending has been mostly dreadful all season long.

    The transfer window opens this Sunday and Erik needs to open the wallet and get in people who can play at this level. There is room in the salary cap. This team that has done so well for us in the past has now blown the last chance saloon. At least 1 new central defender and 1 new right back minimum – we cannot go on like us.

    If we act NOW, we can save ourselves from the impending disaster of relegation.

  3. How about giving Terry Brown long term leave for the rest of the season so he can focus on family issues and bringing in Dave Basset as caretaker. I have never seen “Harry” as a great strategist but he knows how to motivate players and since he is a bit too old TB should feel confident that he can take back the reins come 2012/13.

  4. Basset was at the game on Saturday, I presume just visiting as Terry Gibson was doing the Sky summarising. Certainly I cant think talking to him and others who have experience cant be a bad thing. TB says hes talked over to the likes of John Still in this division so an outer perspective might help.

    An additional thought to my piece. When he came back TB said he wanted more goals after SC/SB had seemed to set up the team more defensively minded. One of his errors? I think so.

    I think if anything I want to be boring traditional 4-4-2 at the mo with a tight defence/midfield/striker mass that is difficult to get through because of the density of bodies on the pitch. That is the way to stabilse things to start with to get the confidence back.

    Talking of TB moving upstairs that would signal the opportunity for either SB or Marcus G to move into the frame more.

  5. Agree that Dave Basset could do a job for us, but can we afford him? and do we have a strong enough squad? – even he can’t work miracles!

    Interesting to look at form table for last 6 games: http://weekendfootball.co.uk/analysis/form.asp?l=4&season=12&formtype=&gamescount=6

    – Accrington top! Interesting that Morecambe are doing as badly as we are – so don’t abandon hope yet.

    However, we must get new players in by the time we play Macclesfield and Aldershot.

  6. 6 games – try pressing the “Last 10 games” button. It’s as bad as you can imagine.

  7. JamPot :
    An additional thought to my piece. When he came back TB said he wanted more goals after SC/SB had seemed to set up the team more defensively minded. One of his errors? I think so.

    This has probably been his biggest mistake of the season – at least we were making some very small steps forward when we were boring our way to 0-0 draws against Swindon and Shrewsbury. Both seem almost unthinkable now, and one person has to accept a lot of the blame for that.

    alexandra_don :
    Agree that Dave Basset could do a job for us, but can we afford him? and do we have a strong enough squad? – even he can’t work miracles!

    Trouble is, when you start putting in new backroom staff, especially a high profile one, you’re effectively altering the dynamic of those there already – and I doubt if SC and SB would be happy being usurped by an incomer.

    Remember that TB wasn’t nearly so effective as a manager with Aldershot when SC left for Lewes.

    Our priority is a few League Two standard players, which providing we don’t buy as poorly as we did in the summer (ie Porter, Charles Ademeno) should secure us safety.

    Hong Kong Garden :
    6 games – try pressing the “Last 10 games” button. It’s as bad as you can imagine.

    If one good thing is going to come out of it, it will force us to look very hard at the way we do things at AFCW – for the first time, our approach (or “model”) clearly isn’t working, and we need to find the cojones to alter that.

    Last season, your editor was told of a conversation involving one of the AFCW top brass. Basically, they were quite apprehensive about getting promoted because before then, we’d been “winging it”….

  8. ‘This has probably been his biggest mistake of the season – at least we were making some very small steps forward when we were boring our way to 0-0 draws against Swindon and Shrewsbury. Both seem almost unthinkable now, and one person has to accept a lot of the blame for that.’

    Swindon was 1-1 and anything but dull. We played well that day and it could easily have been 3 points – or just as easily 0 if the penalty had been given at the end. I think their style of play suits us and we might just get something at the County Ground, particularly if we score first.

    The part-time coaching thing that is mentioned frequently on WUP and appears to be the new in-fashion ‘reason’ why we’re on a bad run is largely a red herring. SB and SC are at the training ground pretty much every day so the image of TB there all week with SB and SC dropping in for a couple of hours a week is incorrect.

  9. @sw12 don

    OK, I got the score for Swindon wrong – my bad 😉

    Whether they’re down there every day or not doesn’t matter, what does is that it’s a full time job being done by part timers. You could get away with it in the Conf where some teams are still part-time and you can be in the playoffs by being pretty competent, but not in a properly full time league.

    Are there any other clubs who have the arrangement we have?

  10. @REPD

    Would also add that by being part time, if SC/SB then go to work in the afternoon, that’s an afternoon they’re not spent helping out TB, or working with the players.

Comments are closed.