Trotters Independent Trading

And another point against a top six side. Whose soul did we sell to get such form?

It almost seems matter-of-fact that we didn’t lose on Saturday, given the week we’ve had. Simmie Womble was at the Macron…

So Notlob 1 – Nodelbmiw 1 (am I the only one to say Bolton backwards regularly?) left me with a really weird feeling. We could have gone and won it and indeed smashed Bolton, alternatively – they could have put 3 or 4 against us, and we ended up holding on for a draw that could have been so much more.

I didn’t realise it was possible to be both simultaneously proud and disappointed at the same time.

We started out terribly. We were second to every ball, and just looked like we were clinging onto a big and strong Bolton side. Madine assaulted the ball from a corner and helped Bolton take the lead and then all of a sudden we took control of the game.

For the next 25 minutes, we out passed, out created and out played a Bolton side that could reasonably do a job in the Championship.

In games like these, Reeves and Soares are worth their weight in gold. Poleon was positive and helped cause a defence made up of two big bullying defenders problems.

Elliott was getting no help from a referee who once again appeared to not understand that decisions go two ways, and not just the one in white, and yet we still managed to score a peach of a goal from a brilliant Francomb cross, and we should have scored at least another goal.

The second half came, and apart from the odd-half chance. Bolton were ‘comfortable’. We didn’t really cause them too many problems.

But then we were comfortable too – our new 3-5-2 Ardley V3.0 tippy tappy football, led to us occasionally dithering on the ball and often giving the ball away in the wrong place.

Safe to say that apart from that, and our occasional counter – neither side was going to really score, especially once we replaced the effective Poleon with an out of form Taylor.

This was a game we could have won. They were there for the taking, and we decided to sit back and go for the draw. I can’t help but feel replacing Bulman for Parnett and taking it to them might have led to the Wombles having 9 from 9 from 3 potential banana skins of games.

Plus points: Nightingale continued to play well on his return from injury. Francomb suiting a RWB slot really well. Soares showing he will be a vital part of the team. Elliott and Poleon. Between minutes 16 and 50.

Minus points: Their goal. The first 15 minutes. The crap stewarding. The last 35 minutes. Playing for a draw. Rail Replacement Bus Services.

The referee’s a…: ladybit? Didn’t really do much. Failed to spot the Bolton centre-backs attempting to assault Elliott a fair few times, and often pinged our esteemed target-Man instead. Linesmen were just as likely to favour the team in white as not give us anything.

Them: Don’t look to have really kicked on since the first game against them. Have big nasty fuck-off physical centre-backs who I can see bullying the more tippy-tappy technical sides in the division.

Play a lot of hoof ball with no real product. We on the other hand, seem to have improved and in terms of the football we are producing – I don’t think I’ve seen a Wimbledon side so confident to play and pass the ball well ever.

I don’t think they’ve got the quality to go up, and that could lead to massive problems. It appears despite their big debt-restructuring they’re still making losses of around £800k a month, and in this league that’s massive.

If they don’t go up – I could see them having some real problems for the next few years, especially with such an interesting ownership.

13,000 in League 1 is no mean feat, but it isn’t anywhere near close enough to the likes of Sheffield United who seem ready to go up with a bang.

They also don’t have anywhere near as good a squad. It was men against boys when we played Sheffield. Yet we could comfortably match a Bolton side who on paper should be able to walk this division.

Point to ponder: Our fans and stewarding. It appears that some of our ‘fans’ want to continue to challenge stewards, which in the lead up to the game against Pete Winkleman’s Pink Windmill kids doesn’t bode well.

I just want to enjoy my football, and while it’s alleged Bolton’s stewarding was very heavy handed. I could do without some of our fans deciding to challenge them for supposedly daring to stand in the stairwell. Just move! I’d rather watch the football on the pitch than get distracted by you ladybits not using your brains.

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Up North. Yet it wasn’t Cold Wet or Miserable… maybe I’ve been living up north for too long. 2) We’ve seen you before… on Jeremy Kyle being a chant that could reasonably describe some Bolton Fans 3) Someone from my course turning out to being a Bolton fan who predicted the score right on the coach from Preston 4) Me being adamant that they’d beat us 5) Them laughing at me afterwards as we got on the same coach.

Anything else? 5 more points and we’ll be ‘safe’ from relegation from League 1. How good does that sound?

Just think – before the Walsall game, we would have killed just to have three points from then until this morning. The fact that we got seven out of nine may have made our season.

To be honest, reading that we were playing for the draw might have been down to us being knackered. There were signs of that against Scunny in the latter stages too, and when you think about it – should you be that surprised?

Since the 7th February, or close to exactly a month ago, we have played seven games. No matter how good you are, no matter your squad size, that’s a helluva lot.

So to only lose once in all of them – and that was a last minute bit of dozyness – is testament to a lot of things. True, we should have come a cropper against Charlton and Coventry, but we didn’t.

Earlier in the season, SW19 and other places wrote about how much of a backbone we had. This last month, it’s come back, and has dug us out of some (self-inflicted) holes. It also helped us grasp the mettle at Glanford Park last Tuesday as well.

But then, if you’re going to have an upturn in form, the last four weeks was the time to do it. Suddenly, you wish we were playing tomorrow after all, although one suspects our physio would disagree…

Make no mistake, this could have killed us if we continued to fuck it up like we were doing in December and January. But we scored away from home, and that monkey finally got hauled off our back and sent to an animal testing lab.

Even following the game at the Reebok Macron from afar, it sounded more than likely that we’d equalise at some point. That’s another little turnaround in expectation that one maybe wouldn’t expect a couple of weeks ago.

The next away game is Fleetwood, who are doing quite well, but even that doesn’t seem so daunting now.

Not only that, it takes pressure off our home form. We’ll lose against Northampton, of course, because that’s the kind of thing we do. But even if we did, and we fail to play the occasion properly tomorrow week, we’re still likely to finish comfortably in L1.

It’s not guaranteed until it’s confirmed, IYSWIM, but we’ve gone from 98% likely to stay in this division to 99%. We’ve got to the point where we’ve now got to lose almost half our remaining games and expect the strugglers to keep picking up wins when we do.

It’s possible, but the way we’ve played this last three games alone suggests it’s a bit unlikely. Not that I won’t be happy when we reach that symbolic 50-point mark, and I bet everyone else at AFCW will be too.

That may explain why NA is gunning for a strong end to the season – whether that means we won’t see the blooding of youngsters after all remains to be seen, but maybe they’re thinking “hmm, playoffs…” instead?

Or perhaps it’s simply a case of certain first-teamers playing for the right to be with us next season? Once we know we’re as good as safe, the team selections could start getting interesting.

If certain players, who haven’t played much part this season, are failing to start, then you can bet they’re on the out list. Or if they do play, but they keep getting subbed…

We’ll wait and see, but it’s a nice problem to have. To have a quiet and sedate last few games of the season is quite rare in the AFCW era, and I bet many will be looking forward to going to a game and not worrying about it.

One final thing that occurred to me this weekend – we’ve got the shrink back, and it’s obvious how effective he is. Would it not be a good idea to have a permanent position of sports psychologist next season?

Look at the results when we do get one in. We’re almost a different team – we saw it last season, when without him we’d still be in L2, and you can see what he’s done for us in the last month.

Football these days is a different animal to what it was in the 1980s and even the 1990s. Preparation is more advanced, sports science is as much a part of the game as kicking a ball, and we’re not in 1983 any more.

And watch a few of our fans fall down in horror at reading that last sentence… 😉

AFCW is not immune from this. Ardley himself is a product of modern football thinking, and you can bet we’re not the only one in this division who has more than the “traditional” backroom staff these days.

True, it’s not going to be the silver bullet that will get us in the Championship in 2018/19, but the more clubs who do it, the more likely those who don’t get left behind. Marginal gains, and all that.

It does seem to relieve the pressure on NA, who admitted in his Meet The Manager shindig last close season that he was doing too much beforehand. And isn’t the point of a good organisation one that doesn’t run its staff into the ground…?

I appreciate the counter-argument that to employ one would cost us one or two first team players. But then, it depends which two….

21 thoughts to “Trotters Independent Trading”

  1. Perhaps the sports shrink would be out of our reach as a permanent member of staff but clearly he is a very important part of our setup so I imagine we’ll have £30K set aside for him to be used as required.

    The run in will be interesting indeed. Will definitely needs to play every game, injury permitting, with a view to him having a storming pre-season and being a first choice CB for 2017/18 alongside Darius. I wonder if we’ll be tempted to try and keep Robbo as our fourth choice CB on reduced terms for one more year in a semi-coaching/mentoring role. I guess it all depends on how much he desires the weekly grind of playing at 36 or if he is looking at transitioning to the next stage of his career.

    I really don’t believe in giving games away but surely young Alfie should also be given a block of games in the last 10, maybe 3-4 in a row with at least two as a starter. It would be interesting to see Toyosi up front too. As for Sibbick and Kalambayi I guess it depends on if their form but I’d be tempted to make them earn it a bit more but they really should be looking at a taste of first team football this time next season.

  2. Hi,

    I think that we should go for broke in the 11 remaining games. 33 points to play for.
    Who knows where it will lead us at the end of this season.

    1. Yep fully agree . Let’s start off with 6 home points to kill off any hint of the drop ! Keep a lid on that John-Joe character and beat a poor Northants team we be never beaten in this life then larrup the scum and maybe we have some fun for that last part of the season

  3. I thought the stewards did alright on Saturday. tbh its getting quite annoying at away games when you have the same bunch of retards who get all pissed up before the match, refuse to sit down, then stand in the walkways for the whole game. when they get asked to move/sit down they get arsey and start effing and blinding at the stewards. its the same at every away game and is making me ashamed at the way some of our fans act. what wasn’t mentioned here about the stewards was that said retards were also having a go at some of our other fans who were sitting down but having their views blocked and then getting sworn at for daring to ask them to sit down. quite a few times the stewards were being called for that.
    lesson to take away, drink less, watch more. or get thrown out for acting like a twat.

    other than that it was a good game 🙂

  4. wasn’t it the same at Stevenage last season when a load of our fans refused to sit down and stood in the walkways? then argued with the stewards for 40 min about it. we then scored, and all the fans in the walkway fell over with a couple of fans being hurt quite badly in the process.

    that’s why they ask you to sit down.

    1. Plus I seem to remember there was an incident at Walsall at the start of this season leading to one or two of our fans getting injured. We really do seem to have found some joke supporters in recent years. A shame, because it was a decent point on the pitch.

  5. I just wonder if getting the psychologist in full time is the answer or will be cost effective next year. There’s no doubt that the whole squad gets a huge lift when we bring him back in as seen this year and last, but would the impact on the players be diluted if the psychologist was around full time?

    When you have something all the time it becomes the norm and becomes part of your daily routine. Maybe getting inside Lyle/Tom/Dom/Others’ minds and telling them how good they are and getting their confidence back has more of an impact for the whole group a few times a year than every week.

    Perhaps we could send someone from the staff (Bass / Jason Moriarty) on a psychology course for the players that may benefit from some day to day help and save bringing in Mr Sylvester for when the whole team needs a lift.

    1. Familiarity breeds contempt. Having an outsider come in, even semi-regularly, rather than year-round, I think gives the squad and management a boost. It helps clear the cobwebs in a way that a permanent member of staff wouldn’t. That said, if there’s a particular player, or management, that needs one-on-one sessions, that might be the say to go.
      What’s clear, regardless, is that the sports psychologist has been very effective for us and is definite value for money.

  6. I spend part of each lunchtime consciously doing something that isn’t work and so I thought for once I’d peek in here. I very rarely comment on what I read on sites but this is the second time recently where I have read how much better things are ‘now that the shrink is back’.

    Where has he been? Well he was around during our excellent early season run and he was also around when our form dipped, including the Sutton home game. In fact, he never went away. Yes he is part time and obviously he sometimes has more input than at others. He is very good indeed, but you do the wider management team a disservice by suggesting it is all down to him. They work very hard on the man management and motivational aspects of the game skills as well as tactics – he provides extra expert insight and targeted back up. They’re a team……

      1. I’d say in regular contact rather than permanent. He agrees with Neal when he is needed and, because he is good at his job and is trusted/respected, he is free to intervene with an idea or two without being asked. It is all about small tweaks to what we do and it is manly done through Neal rather than directly with the players, unless as a response to a request from Neal – I can think of a specific example before the play-off final, but that is for another day.

        What got me about the comments was the black and white nature of them. Success or lack of it is about a while range of factors and not simply one person being there or not being there.

        I’ve got a lot of stuff to get back to, so I won’t be back here now until after the next game at the earliest – if then.

        1. I think what this shows is how vital clear communication generally (and specifically between out club and fans) is. Lots of speculation about the ‘shrink’ cleared up by Eric’s quick and measured (as always) response. Does this show the value of a regular ‘online’ Q&A with Eric/NA/Ivor. Yes I know there are ‘meet the manager/DT’ meetings but they are not easy or accessible to everybody. I accept it might need some level of control/mediation, even advance submission or questions, but it’s fairly easy to put together and make work. I buy a programme at every home game but if I’m honest Eric’s notes are normally the most interesting content. Not ‘blowing smoke’ but the respect Eric has across our fan base, when he speaks, agree or not it’s got value.

  7. Hi Erik,

    Totally agree with you that team work play a big part in our current form. I hope that the manager and players continue to work and put in their best effort in the 11 remaining games of this season. There is playoff chances provided that the team wins all these games. I truly believe that it is possible as long as the manager and players believe in this possibility and mske it a reality.


  8. Good report Simmie.

    Reading here and elsewhere a quick word on the beamback – I was told it’s been agreed to encourage certain people not to attend (so it’s been done for the benefit of our club rather than theirs). Seems a common sense approach because if Winkelman did decide to travel the potential for trouble escalates significantly.

  9. Wise words from Erik.

    Agree with Slow Train on the beamback. A real shame that a few of our season ticket holders will not be attending the game but as I don’t fancy ever going to Frenzyville I respect that. IMO the fewer franchise customers (especially PW) that attend the better. Yes we may lose a few pounds in gate receipts next Tuesday but the less of them we have to see, surely the better? It’s not a rivalry like they would like it to be so fully support any initiative which encourages them to stay at home.

  10. I think that it’s up to invidual preference to watch the game on Kingsmeadow or at home. There is no right or wrong.

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