Donkey Derby

Well, either that headline or a reference to sucking on some Blackpool rock…

So, we’re back to being shit again. Although if there are mitigating factors to be had for Blackpool Tower 1 Brown and Root Tower 0, then it was the two minutes of madness that cost us.

Not that I think we should have put ourselves in that position, mind you. The annoying thing is, we were doing all right up until then. Not spectacular, but in all likelyhood getting another 0-0 draw.

Which makes their goal ever the more galling.

I guess Sky Sports are trying to tell me something when they tell me there’s an “Invalid Authorization Response” whenever I try and click on the video, but yet again, it’s a succession of poor clearing and even poorer tackling that costs us at least a point.

Of course, Abdou then gets red carded a minute later and the rest as they say…

Actually, it shouldn’t have been like this – I still think with a bit of forcefulness and that kind of thing, we could have maybe got back into it. You know, traditional Wimbledon style, and all that.

But after writing that something was wrong after Fleetwood, I think I worked out (partly) what that something is – we have little belief we can score a goal again.

You get blips, like us scoring twice without reply against Donny last weekend. And boy, that feels a long time ago this minute. But this isn’t a new thing, and something that suggests a wider malaise.

Stats are often mis-used, and often make the wrong point, but the following ones don’t – remember kids, until we played Shrewsbury on February 19th this year, we did not score a goal away from home since British Summer Time in 2016 ended.

While writing that, I was reminded of the mocking chant at Sheffield United when we had a late effort that went ten yards wide – “we’ve had a shot” was sung by people who knew what they were seeing was complete horseshit.

Whatever you do, only dig out the SW19 report on that after you’ve read this. I’m not re-writing everything below…

If things haven’t changed that much throughout the whole of 2017, one has to wonder how long before the patience finally snaps. We’re a tolerant bunch of fans, perhaps too tolerant, but even we have our limits.

All this isn’t to mention that we scored just three times – all in one game – in the last nine games of last season. And this campaign? Three goals in five games do you? I don’t count the cups, although even we should be able to score against Barnet…

So our lack of goalscoring isn’t just “one of those things”. It is not a lean spell for our strike force. It is not down to “bad apples”, because they’re gone from the squad and it’s still the same old shit.

You cannot rely on just one chance – McDonald, where the goalie did well – once in a while to kick us on. You win games by creating more attempts and having a fucking go on goal.

It is a fundamental problem that has failed to be addressed in a good long while, and right now I don’t know how we rectify it. And deal with it we must, because we will get relegated if things continue as they are.

And have been for close to a whole calendar year.

Seemingly going out not to lose games, rather than win them, doesn’t help. Saturday was a great example of that – Blackpool weren’t all that, but it was hard not to think that when they went ahead, they knew the game was won.

Do the players know this? Even in the first half, there was a lot of elaborate passing, one pass more than what there should have been in the circumstances. Maybe their own competitive instincts are being stifled, and once that happens it’s not easy to turn that back on until it’s too late.

The last time we won a game after going behind – and yes, I was sad enough to research this – was Oxford at KM last season. That was the 14th January, by the way, so you can do more calculations on how long ago that was.

One final thing – I don’t believe we should be thinking about relegation, because individually our squad isn’t too bad. But you can’t say we look like a team…

Plus points: The sea looked nice.

Minus points: 45 minutes of football. Genuine sense we don’t have a clue when it goes wrong.

The referee’s a…: Seemed to give Blackpool things that we didn’t get, though was correct in sending off Abdou. The bastard.

Them: Didn’t think they were significantly better than us at all, but not for the first time knew where the net was when it mattered. In truth, they should have won by about three or four late on, when our defence decided that a pub on the seafront was more preferable.

On the flip side, they deserve minus marks for playing “Glad All Over” after they scored.

Blackpool is a club that manages to capture perfectly the zeitgeist of the town it represents. Its golden era was many decades ago, it has a sense of decay around it despite it getting spruced up** and yet still has its moments.

** – I imagine Bloomfield Road will be how NPL looks, but it’s clear the stadium isn’t particularly well looked after. There are large specks of rust around, quite a few scuff marks if you looked closely, and has all the TLC you expect in a twenty-year old Travelodge.

After all, they were in the top flight not so long ago. Imagine the seafront when Yernited or Liverpool were in town…

Speaking of Blackpool itself, if you ever want to see Northerners on holiday, but you can’t bring yourself to go to Magaluf, just drive up the M55 on a sunny day. There was even some old geezer calling out bingo on the seafront, with a smell of urine that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Rygas.

Like many UK seaside resorts, it’s obviously a shithole, but I think that’s what attracts the orange tan brigade there – there’s something nostalgic and kitsch about it, even if it does have as much class as the KM back bar pre-refurb.

Point to ponder: Perhaps another reason why our firepower is so wank – just why are we so fucking slow? I know it was a bit warm on Saturday, but at times we were pedestrian. Actually, that was too quick for some of them.

Seriously, some of our fans were yelling for our players to move when we had throw-ins, and it really was painful to see it in the flesh.

This was even more apparent yesterday at Pompey (which is why you’re reading this suicide note of a report today rather than yesterday). Pompey are the only team in L1 to have had less shots on target than us – no WUM – but they and Rotherham do stuff we didn’t.

When there was a free kick, or throw in, they were being busy. Our lot would have just stood there.

Do we have problems with fitness? If not, are our players being over-coached and micro-managed again? If that’s not the case either, then what? Like our alleged goalscoring, that too has been an issue since a lot of last season too.

I note that NA said the following after the game:

We have to play with more quality, be fitter, stronger, and more dynamic. There are so many things that we need to be better at. It has to come from within – that intrinsic motivation in the group to do even better – and we have to win battles.”

Maybe the players don’t believe enough? If so, that’s a motivational problem that should send the alarm bells ringing already. As stated above – we’ve got rid of the supposed “bad apples”, yet we still look less of a team. The root cause of that has to be somewhere…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) A poster for the World Black Pudding Throwing Championship on the approach to the ground. One assumes it’s England’s version of road bowling. 2) The guy who puked up two rows behind me. Drink related, and not related to the game.

Anything else? Yeah, I wasn’t entirely sure of the anti-Oyston stuff coming from some of our fans during the game.

Look, they’re cunts (the Oystons, not our supporters), they’re fucking awful owners and they continue to do a lot of damage to Blackpool. And I know our lot were trying to send solidarity and all that, but it just seemed a bit out of place.

I believe the young people call it “virtue signalling”. I think we were trying to be supportive, but ended up pissing in the wind.

Some of our fans were bewildered as to why there was little reaction from the home support. I guess that those in the ground are the ones who simply avoid all the political stuff, and just want to spent their Saturdays watching their team.

I saw a quick glance of a flyer from their trust outside, and it went something like “we know some people want to just support their club”. Basically, those who give a shit about the Oystons and want to do something about it aren’t in the ground anyway.

And this is always the problem with protests in football. Depending on what the issue is then for a while, they work, but they need a quick resolution. Otherwise, when they drag on, people remember that they go to football for entertainment and for the social side of things.

Those Blackpool fans sitting there on Saturday were much more interested in them scoring against us than anything to do with their owners. They probably know that they’re being shafted, but when it goes on for too long, and it doesn’t seem to make any sort of difference, you end up shrugging your shoulders and move on with your life.

I guess similar will happen at Coventry, if it hasn’t already. At some point, protesting against a situation ultimately becomes futile, and many will just think “what’s the point?”.

And I think that would have happened at WFC if that had dragged on beyond 28/5/02. We were fortunate (?) that at least there was an end game and we could usher in the AFCW era. But what would have happened to us if we went 5 years, or 10 years, or even 20 years without a resolution?

Put it in those terms, and you can understand why there was so little reaction from Blackpool fans in the ground on Saturday. Maybe things will change up there if Bloomfield Road was under threat, because then it directly affects the ordinary matchday goer.

But should we play them next season, or the season after, one suspects things will not have changed too much…

So, was it worth it? I haven’t the heart to answer that.

In a nutshell: Insert comment about donkeys on the beach here.

10 thoughts to “Donkey Derby”

  1. Any chance of getting a striker or 2 on loan?

    Otherwise, more of the same until January, by which time we’ll need a great escape to stay up.

    interesting that our ‘rejects’- Poleon and Charlie Wyke doing very well at Bradford. Is coaching an issue? Do other teams know how to get the best out of players?

    1. But I maintain still its not the strikers that are the problem… its the people giving them the chances – midfield.

      OK, Repds comment: “Seriously, some of our fans were yelling for our players to move when we had throw-ins, and it really was painful to see it in the flesh.”

      That has been happening for years at KM (where I see most matches) and the new players soon tire of doing it and not getting the ball! So yes the front 3 are not perfect but nor is the midfield.

      There’s still a (redundant) debate about Reeves and what he brought to the team but he tried the through ball etc. For me the only person still capable of doing that at present is Parrett but he’s constantly on the bench.

      It is undoubtedly NA’s conservatism in NOT losing that is stifling any forward threat.

      At home WE should be the one’s that take a game at the beginning by the scruff of the neck but it is always the opposition that seems to strike (score or shoot) first.

      Stats can be twisted but in the longer term they do not lie. We’ve been a bang average team during our years since entering the Conference. That’s good. But just like you can have one exceptional season out of kilter with your average performance (promotion) likewise you can have one exceptionally bad one.

      The elephant on the pitch for me – midfield – has still not been addressed.

      We’ll see who’s the shittiest after the Pompey game this weekend I suggest…

      Does anyone think we’ll go for it?

    2. It must be the coaching! Different players come and go and still we don’t score. Players leave and start scoring. It seems to be a bit of a coincidence don’t you think? By they way Charlie Wyke left because he couldn’t settle in London and wanted to return North…..

  2. I had the exact thought about Magaluf as we were walking back to our accommodation. All that missing was the Geordie girls! You’d have to be a right killjoy not to enjoy yourself on Blackpool, however, so I wasn’t complaining too loudly.

    As for the game, it was a standard issue Nil Ardley containing away game until we shot ourselves in the foot just as the match was about to break out. Unfortunate.

    I feel this report is a bit of an overreaction as the gameplan was obvious but it went out the window when Abdou was sent off.

    It’s still far too early for the collective Womble anus to twitch. We have the comfortably the most talented squad we’ve ever had but it’s taking time to gel.

    Where I would agree is where Rob suggests there is a lack of self-belief and unity. They don’t look like they are enjoying it. The team spirit isn’t there. More work needed on that front, perhaps. Possibly involving alcohol.

  3. Not wrong to look at change in play as either we had been sussed or it simply wasn’t working/wouldn’t work without Elliot.
    Question marks over the pitch: sicknote/left back. Fuller recovering from serious injury at 33 playing alongside hoof it Robbo whose best days are long gone but he is a shoe in as the gaffers mate. No balance whatsoever in midfield. Appiah.
    So to play more ball than hoof, who are we looking at to get it down and play? We’ve a defence that likes to send it. Abdou was never a baller at Millwall – energy/action/tackling. Trotter? maybe. Francombe (now now Kentish)? Hartigan? Parret? Not trusted. Soares? Forrester?

    Div1: 2 away wins since 22 October 2016. 2 away goals since 28 February. 3 league goals in last 5 games or 3 in last 11 games if you include the end of last season.
    Pretty damning stuff.
    Feels a bit like Palaces slow nose dive in 2016.
    2 wins in the next 2 home games v 2 out of form sides in Pompey and Gills and Neal will have some momentum to excuse us at Blackburn before the visit from the football damned on 22 September.
    Us and Neal will all know where we stand by the end of the month!
    Wonder if Pardew fancies us ;-0 )

  4. The only player who consistently carves chances out in midfield is Barcham.
    He was stifled to some extent in the Doncaster game
    Whenever he got on the ball he had 2 or 3 opposition players on him like a rash.
    Abodu, Trotter and Francomb are all clones of each other.
    All one paced with little attacking imagination.
    Don’t hold your breath for Soares to return, on last season’s performance he is more of the same.
    Ardley needs to be more risk adverse.
    His game plan is predictable and the matches are
    a total bore to watch.
    Can’t understand Parrett constantly being overlooked for the starting line up.

  5. I agree that NA is too conservative in his tactics. The team is becoming too predictable for the opponent to exploit.

    The manager needs to adopt more risk-based approach if he is to become a better manager.


  6. Currently this is a team that does not seem to have an identity at the moment. And maybe that will come in time… and hopefully that time will be in the next 5 to 10 games and not too late to save this season.

    When I watch the games I’m not clear what we are trying to be or what our style is meant to be and what is a little concerning is 5 games in and I haven’t really seen any progression so far but again it’s early and not something that I’d be overly concerned about yet. If we haven’t seemed to make any progression by the end of October then I will start to panic.

    I think I agree that the issue is mostly in the midfield (and equally the defence) but possibly not the way as suggested in previous posts. I do think adding another attacking midfielder/winger (Forrester) will take the focus off Barch as our only creative outlet and will help link midfield and attack but will mean that Abdou/Trotter/Parrett will have to be trusted as a two and may possibly mean we will see less of Hartigan/Egan so there are drawbacks.

    From what I’ve seen I think the biggest problem area we have is the link between defence and midfield. The pattern of play I have noticed the most is that we play it across the back at a (mostly) conservative pace allowing the opposition to set up defensively. Once they are set they then put some pressure on our back line and, rather than a midfielder to drop in between the opposition midfield and attack and link up, we punt it upfield. That punt then comes back 8 times out of 10 as we don’t have a suitable outlet for a direct ball and the midfield are now caught again in transition between attacking positions and defensive ones.

    For those who said we wouldn’t miss Jake, this is exactly what he did well for us – linking defence to midfield and we currently don’t have anyone who drops back out of midfield to take a pass, turn and move forward. The only one who seems to drop back with regularity is Abdou who then plays the pass backwards from where it came.

  7. Sounds like the players had a “team bonding” session at a horse race meeting yesterday.

    Message getting though…?

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