Pre-Northampton thoughts

I’m going to try very hard not to mention a certain game on Tuesday. Chances are, I’ll probably fail…

So, Northampton tomorrow. A game that almost seems to be forgotten about, though one that could just about seal our League One place next season.

Be honest – if we had a free weekend ahead of us, most wouldn’t notice the difference. It’s going to be that sort of few days ahead of us. But it’s the Cobblers, and one we should definitely not ignore…

As it stands, we’re in a good place right now. The results are going our way, the confidence is growing, and the notion we could well get at least a point tomorrow is very real. Perfectly ripe for the inevitable fuckup, no doubt.

We’ve certainly needed the rest, though one hopes that we haven’t lost the momentum we’ve built up because of it. A team that can go to two of the top six and get four points, in the space of a few days as well, isn’t doing too badly.

And while we’re grateful for finally getting points on the road, winning or drawing at KM is equally important.

There are seven home games left, or six proper games and one circus (told you I was struggling not to mention Tuesday). That’s more than enough to get the two wins we still likely need for safety. Hell, if we drew most of them, we’d be more than all right.

Not to mention if we get another Scunny/Bolton type run of results. Although given that two of our remaining away games are against teams currently in the bottom four, maybe we’ll need to keep winning at KM after all?

Anyway, we’ve signed Will Nightingale, Barcham and Robbo to new deals, so obviously planning for next season has already started. The last name on there may raise a few eyebrows, but then maybe that’s as much to do with the first name on that list too.

I don’t doubt Robbo will play a few more cameos next season, and I guess NA’s thinking is that it’s somebody else you don’t need to replace when you can get one more campaign out of him.

Indeed, our manager is stating that he doesn’t want a major overhaul, and while some will inevitably depart, we’ve already kept one name many (?) expected us to release in the summer.

Mind you, the nucleus of this squad isn’t bad. It’s adapted to League One, it has rarely looked out of its depth and is in mid-table for a very good reason. So all things being equal, maybe we shouldn’t expect too much this close season after all…

Your editor went down the training ground for professional purposes yesterday, and we do seem quite a unified squad who get on well with each other. The vibe is good, and I believe one certain player when he says we have a good bunch of lads.

Think of how Bournemouth have still got a lot of their squad (and manager) who were there in the Championship days. While time will inevitably see a breakup of it, for now we don’t need to.

That goes a long way, and unity is not something that’s always been said of our squad since returning to the Football League. We also seem quite modern in our thinking in terms of the backup, including our sports psychologist.

I mention him by the way, because SW19 managed to get a response from the AFCW powers-that-be in the previous comments section 😉 Check them out…

Done that? Good. It’s interesting that a) he’s pretty much “around” if/when we need him, and b) he tends to deal with NA rather than the players directly. Although anyone remember that thing on Football Hurts with Jon Main (?) going through some sort of mental strength session?

Didn’t do him any harm though. Or us.

One question though – if he’s always been available to us, how does that explain the slump around the time of the Curzon game..?

Anyway, it’s nice to get some clarification, because let’s face it – 98% of us don’t know 98% of what goes on, so you can’t really blame anyone for thinking the shrink comes in and results suddenly start to improve.

It’s been said on here before but it’s worth repeating again – comms is something you either “get” or you don’t, and AFCW does have a problem with that a fair amount of the time. Which leads me onto the thing I tried to avoid mentioning…

This week has unsurprisingly been focused on next Tuesday, aka the circus coming to town. There’s been a fair bit of angst about the beamback to Frenzyville, the difficulty in getting tickets for some fans, and a sense amongst some that the club are being dismissive over their concerns.

Personally, I think it’s a case of AFCW protecting its own arse. And maybe protecting our own fans from themselves.

We are a League One outfit, at least on the field, and as such we’re answerable to various licensing authorities, the police, the Football League, the FA, other clubs and some other influential bodies that I can’t think of at the moment.

You can piss off our own supporters, because they know, you know and I know – we’ll bitch about it to our mates and/or on various social media, but we’ll be back next week unless we’ve thrown a real hissy fit.

But you can’t piss off those who could actually do a lot of harm to AFCW. Take the beamback to Frenzyville – it’s basically to stop as many of their windowlickers (including Wankie) turning up on Tuesday, nothing more.

I’m not that bothered if they make a couple of quid out of it – the whole “don’t give them a penny” stuff went out the window the very moment 3000 of us stepped into the Frenzydome back whenever it was.

If we turned it down, we get unwanted visitors as a result, then something happens, the blame would be on us. Not Wankie, not Franchise, but us. And that won’t matter how unfair that will sound to some either, because we’ll get nailed due to neglect.

Same with the ticketing. The club simply wants the least amount of people there on Tuesday, full stop. It’s a very difficult fixture as it is without being more lax over who can come in. And let’s face it – some people sans billet do want to cause grief.

Minor incidents cannot be avoided. You can’t avoid them in a football ground, on the street, or in your local Co-Op. But you can try and minimise them as much as possible, and our ticket policy does exactly that.

Our aim, apart from getting the three points and reminding those cunts why we wouldn’t even want them coming out of our arse, is to get through without a major incident. That would cost us a lot in money, security, perhaps certain bits of the ground getting closed, not to mention the negative PR associated with it.

Those who know the score wouldn’t be so judgemental against us if there was something that went wrong, but it’s best not to have that against us. Ditto, it won’t have that much impact on NPL as a few are suggesting this week.

Maybe that was true a year or two ago, but any holdups now will have nothing to do with crowd control – and I’d argue this sort of fixture proves it’s more needed than ever.

But the club doesn’t want to take any more risks than necessary, and I don’t blame them at all for that. The Charlton game must have been a real eye-opener, and we learned some very valuable lessons that day.

I did have a dig at the club’s comms earlier, so praise where it’s due with the meeting last night. It’s obvious why they’re going to keep some measures away from public consumption, which is partly why they held a meeting rather than update it on the OS.

I’m surprised that the bars are going to be open, though perhaps not entirely surprised that away fans won’t be allowed in. Funny that. That said, I would guess the Met are going to have a lot of say on the night, so don’t be entirely surprised if you find you can’t get your pint of Mehmet Mehmet’s Jockstrap, or whatever the real ale there is called.

Forcing them onto a coach then making them pick up tickets is the best for all concerned, especially if it inconveniences them. Even Wankie isn’t stupid enough to get on a coach (I think), and you can bet the coppers will be very eagle-eyed on that score.

Checking for banners, pyrotechnics etc is pretty much standard stuff for a high risk fixture like this, so leave your “Peter Wanklemann Fucks Toddlers” banner at home. I doubt if you’ll be able to take even a piss without a steward or copper checking your weapon, either.

All of that is for Tuesday. We have a game tomorrow by the way. One hopes the players aren’t as distracted as the fans…

19 thoughts to “Pre-Northampton thoughts”

  1. I often wonder whether the “Shrink” is for the benefit of the players or, more as I think, for the benefit of the Manager and his team. Could anybody imagine Brian Clough with a shrink advising him? “It only takes a second to score a goal”, or does it? (says the shrink)! Perhaps what we really need is a hypnotist to prevent NA, Coxy and the rest of them talking up the opposition and, instead, talking up our own players for a change.
    As for the Scum, I still reckon that we give them far too much publicity, no matter how bad it may appear on the surface. Erik is probably right when he appears to suggest that we need to think about our Club and the repercussions that could arise from any nonsense aimed at the Dongs by some fans. WUP, in general, seems to think that our past record in respect of trouble will stand us in good stead – long standing fans will know that the least little thing that appertains to the Dons is so often taken to the nth degree by the powers that be and the Club is punished for it. IMO, we cannot afford to much a shite-up of this fixture and allow the scum to make hay out of it post match. I’m keeping everything crossed that nothing untoward happens, our players turn up on the night and we give them a damned good spanking.

    1. The shrink was IIRC brought in to help Ardley, which in turn helps the players – you can’t argue with the results thus far, and our manager is better when he’s not micromanaging everything.

      It’s not perfect, and there are still occasions when we/he tries to be too clever, but compare how we improved once the psychologist jumped on board…

      We can’t avoid giving Franchise publicity, and it’s something we’ve got to deal with and put up with. If they make hay out of it, we’ve got to learn to simply take it on the chin.

      That said, I don’t think the authorities are particularly against us – they could have hammered us over Charlton but didn’t.

      1. It went or has gone very quiet over that – were we asked for our observations?

        Wonder if Charlton observed anything wrong on the day?

        Wonder if anything will come out later…. the FA is so quick on draw at times…. Ha Ha Ha!

        1. Don’t think the FA have charged us – I know for a fact they are very quick to pick up on coin throwing incidents within a couple of days.

          Would guess they’re satisfied with how it was dealt with internally.

  2. Thanks for the update REPD, brilliant as usual. You know what would keep our fans ‘quiet and will behaved’ for this fixture is simple really.
    NEAL ARDLEY’S WIMBLEDON TURN UP, MEAN TO PLAY AND GIVE THEM A BLOODY GOOD HIDING. A similar performance against Oxford away would keep us in good spirits.
    I and many other fans will not appreciate MA’s usual pre match comments of, they are a good team we have to play to our strengths and we are focusing on our game. He needs to accept that our fans want to thump them on the pitch and he will make sure that we do it. If we put in a performance like we did at franchise away. Then I’m sorry, I think many fans will get the arsehole with NA and the team as we will not be able to take them gloating over us at our own place and seeing that penguin man WANKIE revelling in it.
    One thing I remember when we lost at franchise was their new manager giving thumbs up to wankie. If he can understand the gravity of this fixture so quickly and set a team up not to lose, why can’t NA?
    So as much as I agree and understand AFCW on this circus with the game coming up, a massive onus is on our team actually going out they’re and performing for the full 90 minutes and I mean full 90 minutes. They owe us big-time for this and must not bottle it.
    I hope the club make it clear to NA we want to win this one and wipe their own shit in their faces.

  3. A little disappointed we’ve already signed Robinson for next season. Doing that now strikes me as being premature as there’s a good chance we could sign a better player this summer.

    I am a little concerned about the squad for next season as we really could do with bringing in 5 or 6 players. NA doesn’t play the kids for more than the odd game so really our squad is light & it would be good to get a bit more quality in if NA is to continue down the experienced player road.

    Suspect now we won’t keep Bulman as you can’t have too many 35+ players. Also think Ardley’s got to cull about 5 youngsters & just focus on the Nightingale’s & Egan’s who he’s going to give the odd game to.

    1. Hi Stephen,

      I think that Neal feels that it is better to get the business done by getting the established centre-back Robinson contracted to the club for another season or so. This will allow Will to gain as much guidance and exposure from him. I too am not in favour of such decision. I guess that it is the matter of getting additional insurance on the defence in case we are unable to sign one or two experienced defenders in the summer. Given that the club is run on shoestring budget and there is no rich benefactor to rely on, every penny counts and we need to make full use of the limited and available revenue and sign the best possible players who will elevate the club to greater heights.

      Of course, it will help if we are in higher division. We stand a better chance of securing their service. However, we cannot rely solely on that scenario and we need to make the best possible decision based on the current circumstance. Therefore, it will be a wise decision to offer the contracts to the existing players whom we retain for the next season regardless of which division we will be playing next season (I hope that it will be Championship). This will give more ensured stability in the first team squad. If we are unable to secure the services of the shortlisted players, there is always an alternative option (the academy) which we can consider for such first team players.

      Ben

  4. Hi REPD & All,

    I think that it will be more appropriate to focus on winning the Northampton game first. There is no doubt that the tension is building up for “that” game. I think that the team can use the motivation of “having to play future/subsequent league games after next Tuesday” by aiming for promotion this season.

    I think that some of you may feel that ot is too far fetched for the team to secure a playoff spot with 11 remaining games. We are 11 points away from the sixth placed Millwall. However, I opin differently. We are Wimbledon and we tend to make things difficult for us. Eventually, we manage to achieve the target. We need not to look further to the classic example of the team last season. I hope that the manager and players have the same belief and I am confident that the team can achieve promotion this season. It’s all in the mind.

    Ben

  5. Re signing Robbo, too early to analyse the strategy just yet. Plenty of good enough reason to keep him around, let’s recall our second season in L2 – so nearly getting relegated after a reasonably comfortable first season. Keeping a steady ship for next year, helped by Robbo’s experience, while steadily building a squad that can a) get promoted and b) compete in the championship without having to slash and burn, is a sensible strategy for a club of our financial position. The step up to Championship is much more significant and we won’t be able to wing it like we have in the past. Another good season in L1 in 2017/18 maybe getting into play-offs, auto promo 2018/19 with a deep and solid squad, then Barcelona at NPL in the CL in 2020. Ole!!

    1. Hi Ktwomble,

      I agree with your view. I think that it will be great if we manage to secure a playoff spot and secure the promotion to Championship via the playoff lottery this season. That being said, most people will definitely comment that the club will be doomed to relegation back to League One at first instance. The reason is that the club
      might have progressed up the league too fast.

      I have different views. I think that it’s the matter how we prepare for the upcoming season with available resource. The now defunct Wimbledon has managed to overcome all odds by staying in the top flight in English Football from 1986 to 2000.
      During the period, the club did not have much fund and rely on selling its best players to sustain itself and punch its weight against all odds in the old First Division and Premier League in 1980s and 1990s. I will like to add that the club were relegated from the Premier League not because of lack of fund and because of the mismanagement. The club was under the ownership of Norweigan benefactor. I remember that the club was able to splash high transfer fee of £7.5 million on John Hartson in 1997 or 1998. The vlub still got relegated. The subsequent events led to the formation of AFC Wimbledon in 2002.

      This goes to show that we should not limit ourselves to the stipulated timeline of progress. If the success comes unexpectedly this season, we should adapt accordingly. This is of course with the determination and effort of Neal and his current team in making this circumstance a reality this season as long as they have the strong belief in such situation.

      Ben

    1. Doesn’t Barnett have another year on his contract? Must get Elliott signed up again – he’s POTY IMHO.

  6. I think Barnett will be one of those surprises. NA must look at what’s he’s done with Tom and think that he can do the same with Ty.

  7. We lost the Northampton game. It’s game over for the playoff aspiration. We need to try to win as many games as possible to ensure that we are in League One for the next season.

    Ben

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