Groundhog Day

AKA your editor tries and write something that hasn’t been said or scribed in the last nine months…

By now, you’ve probably all used that “Insanity” description to describe things at AFCW. You know what it is, although you may not know that it’s likely Einstein never actually said it.

Eventually, however, things change. After Merton College 3 Merton Council 0, the worm is finally turning.

For me to describe the match will simply just require cutting and pasting from so many games this campaign and the last one too. To be fair, we actually started off all right. Not particularly special, but all right.

Then they scored, and it was practically game over.

OK, we had a few corners and we even managed to make their keeper save a header. But while I only sporadically go to fixtures, I sensed something changing in front of my eyes – and not in a good way either.

Yes, our tactics are awful. Yes, NA’s post-game comments are (deliberately?) missing out the stats that really matter. Yes, our transfer dealings have been beyond dire. And yes, we’re going down to League Two unless something fundamental changes.

But on Saturday, I felt the players were playing within themselves.

I don’t mean they’re not going to put 100% on the field (though as we all know, that’s not always 100% the case). But a foot doesn’t get put in when it otherwise might have done, or a cross is delivered badly when usually it wouldn’t be.

More and more fans have had enough. And one now has to think the players are pissed off as well.

If you want to talk about turning points, perhaps it was after Gills/Blackburn? Think about how the shackles were off after our manager yet again phoned up the sports shrink. Hell, he even admitted it himself, that once again he was being too overbearing and interfering.

Think of how free we looked against Gills in particular. OK, we drew against the third team even shittier than we are, but it gave you hope that with just a bit more luck in front of goal, and a bit more concentration at the back, we would be comfortably mid table.

See, even now I don’t think we’re a bad collection of players. We’re not a team by any stretch, and even if we battled hard every game we’ve still got big problems.

But since Blackburn, the shackles have come back on again, the overbearing, micromanagement style has returned on steroids, and the stats that are actually relevant speak for themselves.

And if you’re a player, why would you bother any more? Sure, professional pride, and all that, but you just know that if there was a change in ethos, it wouldn’t last too long anyway.

It has to be very demoralising to get forced to play in a system that is clearly failing, to then get the chance with a new approach that you clearly like, then get pinned down and get the ball-and-chain put on you again.

Perhaps that’s why the players just do what they’re told, regardless of how badly thought out it is? It’s just easier to put your head down and plan to leave the club whenever you get the first opportunity.

To quote after the game, when they’re going forward they’re not thinking of attacking but instead having to think about the shape. Won’t say who said it, but put it this way – if that’s the view throughout the whole squad, shit is about to get real.

Not just for the immediate short term, but longer term as well. See, players gossip. They’ll happily blab to other pros, and other former team-mates about what life is really like at AFCW. Chances are they’ll advise anyone we look at in the next transfer window not to sign for us, and not just for the wages.

And indeed, why would you join this club in January, if things don’t change and you do your research beforehand? You don’t exactly get better playing for us, you’re judged more on your ability on the training ground rather than 3pm on a Saturday.

And Satan help you if you’re even remotely creative or you’re a free thinker…

I think we’re at the stage where it’s a case of when, not if things come to a head. There’s still enough people who hope Ardley turns it around, but one suspects deep down they know he won’t. Not to any significant degree, anyway.

Plus points: Parrett and Barcham looked lively.

Minus points: [cut and paste everything from about November 2016]

The referee’s a…: Was kind enough to blow the full time whistle to allow us to stop suffering.

Them: Never got out of second gear, and in truth never needed to.

Like many teams, they weren’t significantly better than us, but they have a gameplan that works and players who are at least au fait with it.

There was always the sense, even when it was 1-0, that if we had performed a miracle and actually scored, they would have perked into life and put a couple past us in quick succession.

In some ways, they must have been like L2-era AFC Wimbledon (two seasons ago, not 2018/19) when we failed to put away the bottom feeder because of concentration lapses.

The Kassam is still the same as ever, and the whole banners thing up their end still feels try-hard. I imagine a night game in a big cup game where the crowd are behind them could be quite an experience though.

Point to ponder: So, who is going to stand up to our current management team and call them out over their bullshit?

I noted over the weekend that mentions of THAT St Evenage game were made, along with the intriguing conclusion that we’ve gone beyond that. One or two have mentioned Crawley and Newport away too, where the senior pros pointed their fingers at Ardley and said “No more”.

At a time when we need somebody with bollocks, where is that going to come from this time around?

Those here on loan won’t be doing it, and they’re not going to. Any youngster who does it is likely going to be sent on loan to Woking. Of the senior pros, a couple I could mention will be praying NA stays on because they may otherwise get challenged themselves.

Anyone else? I mentioned player power above, although it’s going to be more like a death from a thousand cuts rather than an outright calling-out.

You can forget fan power changing things, in case you haven’t noticed. The board? Fuck knows what they’re doing, although it’s well known they dream of NA leading us out at NPL. So they’ll probably give him a new deal regardless.

Remember that the powers-that-be are notoriously very slow to act over situations like this, although it’s their reputation for competence on the line too (especially as our new ground seems to have hit an s106 impasse and a growing sense that something is wrong behind the scenes).

But somebody with clout needs to speak out, and now. They may have done already, of course, in which case it hasn’t worked – if anything, things have become more entrenched, as though a siege mentality has taken over.

And not in a good way, either.

Doing nothing when something is fucked is a dangerous game to play, especially as the begging bowl gets shoved under our noses every November/December anyway.

Mind you, it’s hard to see anything changing without some kind of a) upheaval or b) undermining NA. Even putting a Shaun North type figure in will do the latter if he then starts telling our current manager what he’s doing wrong.

But then, that’s the situation we’re in. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t, although that’s entirely self-inflicted…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The fan who got put in his place when he went full-on psycho over Francomb. 2) Mind you, the same people people openly supporting George weren’t nearly so supportive of Cody McDonald… 3) The amusement arcade by the ground. Should have stayed in there, really.

Anything else? We can talk about indictments all day long, and how bad things are right now. But even if you stick your head in the sand with everything else, this next bit should chill you as to how far things have fallen.

When people are talking about how we need to lose games, or get tonked just to force something to change, that’s when you know we’re in real trouble.

I had a couple of pre-game conversations along those lines (and no, none of this was me saying this), and it practically goes against every sensibility of football supporting. Wanting us to win is almost as natural as breathing, right?

But it’s true. No, they won’t admit it in public, or on t’internet, but it’s a genuinely held belief amongst a growing number of people. The same happened in the dying days of the TB era as well, and it’s not that unusual at other clubs in clusterfuck mode.

You can argue about the merits of sacking Ardley, or keeping him on, and the list of the former will be a lot bigger than the latter now. That’s only natural in the situation we’re in.

When you’re having doubts about whether you even want to have three points, just because it will keep things the same, that’s a whole new level of discontent. It’s quite a sacrifice, because winning games is a nice feeling.

Beating Blackburn made for a nice weekend. Beating Scunthorpe last season was nice. Beating Franchise in March was, well, a bit more than a nice Tuesday evening. And yes, I’m struggling with listing many other victories we’ve had in 2017.

Northampton on Saturday should be a slam dunk, even for our useless cunts. In fact, NA himself has to be extremely lucky that not only is he at a club where he gets chance after chance, even when he doesn’t deserve it, but two out of the next three games are against sides even shittier than we are.

Winning at Sixfields should be a nice feeling, but in many cases it won’t be – it’s just delaying what is increasingly the inevitable. We all know that we will revert to type against Charlton, or Oldham, or Brizzle Rovers, unless something drastic and far-reaching happens.

I mentioned just now about similar feelings abounding in the TB era, and when we lost to Torquay it felt like a relief as there was no credible way back. Should we lose on Saturday, it will feel quite similar for a lot of people, especially as it’s half an eye on the long term health of the club.

Many others will condemn it for lack of faith/loyalty, but is that the case? Football supporting comes in many different forms, and blind loyalty is often one of the worst ways to support a club.

There may be such a thing as being a “true fan”, but it does not equal being a sycophant.

And yes, your editor has a lot of sympathy and understanding for people taking an almost heretical viewpoint on matters right now. Contrary to popular belief, I love winning games and the post-game glow it gives off.

But at this moment in time, I don’t blame anyone for wanting a negative outcome at games to change things. After all, it’s not their fault they’ve been pushed into thinking that…

So, was it worth it? *snorts*

In a nutshell: That ticking sound is getting a lot louder.

33 thoughts to “Groundhog Day”

  1. You are right REPD, every Fan wants their team to win and some fans EXPECT their team to win. The difference between wanting and expectation can be a chasm, so I doubt if anybody on here EXPECTS us to beat Northampton or any other team for that matter. Every Fan also wants their team to score goals and every fan expects their team to score goals; on this occasion there is no chasm. If a team cannot score, it cannot win; if it cannot win, the best it can expect is a draw – sucking eggs everybody?
    The crux of all this is POINTS. Getting no points because we were unlucky, not being beaten by much etc. (as I often read on WUP) is complete shit – complete shit equals no points and there’s no points whether we lose 1-0 or 6-0. The way things have been for nigh on 6 months of actual season(s) is our opponent scores and we are beaten. Those are the facts (or the stats for Nil’s benefit). If the Board are really happy with the way things are, let them speak out; if they are not, let them speak out. The Fans who are still in Ardley’s Camp will probably never change their tune and it is highly unlikely that those who are not will either. Waiting to see what will happen against two sides reputedly shittier than us will not really prove a lot – if we win, some will say we should have done anyway, others will say, “I told you Ardley was the Man for the Job” etc., whilst if we lose, many will says “that’s it – Ardley out” or the rest will say “unlucky – give him until Christmas to sort it out”. The results of these matches are not immaterial; it’s the way the team is set up and how it plays. For example, what does a scraped win and a draw prove and what about two draws? Is two scraped wins good enough or a defeat and a draw?
    For me, the only stats that matter are those that have brought us to this moment in time – who or what is to blame for the worst record in AFC Wimbledon’s history? Well somebody (or somebodies) is responsible and the appropriate action needs to be taken for that, not the results of the next two games.

    1. IF we could win our next 3 games (I’d suggest Rotherham at home is unlikely btw) then that would give us 18 points from 15 games; just about acceptable.

      But as Dave has said the manner of the performance, the team selected and where individual player play on the pitch is JUST as important as any wins.

      Without it we know NA is going to either stay in type, or possibly might have been told/seen it needs to change (I doubt this).

      I have a theory about managers; they have a shelf life. To stay long term at a club you need to totally revamp your teams periodically with new players otherwise you and them become stale.

      Brian Clough was the past master at this; everyone bar a core of 3 players ‘moved on.’

      I just think that NA has hit his ceiling. Its beginning to look to me like it is best for all round if he considers a change.

      If he goes and is successful elsewhere I will be really happy for him; as happy as I have been for what he has done here.

      And like TB before I will always be grateful for the part he has played in our story.

      But though I believe in allowing managers to compete against their goals, see out their contract etc I can only really see that at this time IF we were to improve substantially now and he remains on the cusp till the end of the season.

      Lose to these two below us (with our records a distinct possibility) and I would expect him to go.

      Probably by his hand, but if not by that of Erik.

      Otherwise the DT need to ask some serious questions in light of NPL and our plans as to why not.

      League 1 is not a certainty we need for NPL but it sure as fuck will make life a bit easier.

  2. Whilst I agree with the concern that NA will revert to type, and stick the shackles back on *if* we manage to get 5-6 points over the next three games, I *will* give him 100% support over those three games.
    He might well wish to play wonderful Tippy Tappy on our new Chelsea surface, but we clearly don’t have the budget for the calibre of players required to succeed.
    He needs to cut his cloth accordingly.
    Points mean prizes. Stats mean fuck all.

    1. “He needs to cut his cloth accordingly.”

      If he did, we wouldn’t be in nearly the mess we are at the moment.

      If you have a low budget, you have to be more practical and less ideological. Not the other way round.

  3. If you were to look at this club as the supporter of another then the anti-Ardley momentum which is currently building might seem unfair. After all, he kept the club in League 2 and then got promotion to League 1. A neutral observer might reasonably suggest we’ve overachieved and now we’re all throwing our toys out of the pram because of a disappointing start to the season (though not so disappointing as Gillingham, Northampton and Plymouth’s). That rational view would miss the underlying trends: the inability to mount meaningful attacks and consequently score goals, which began last season; the inadequate acquisitions in the transfer window; the ludicrous formations which result in poor (in every sense) Cody Macdonald being isolated as a very underwhelming target man; and Ardley’s stubborn refusal to change anything even if it patently doesn’t work. I reckon he’s got about a month to turn it round and in the meantime the club should be looking at who could replace him if he fails to do so. After all, it was Erik who said we need to be in at least League 1 when we move to New Plough Lane.

  4. I have no objection to getting a new manager, I just can’t find my rose-tinted spectacles that suggest it will make a difference. We have a poor squad in which not only was the loss of our best two players addressed but we also willingly got rid of another disruptive but at times effective forward. We are poor in quality and in finance and we aren’t going to be able to afford some startlingly good target man in January who will turn it around. This is a Leagie 2 quality side and it is a choice of who is best suited to take us there and who has realistic plans for a fightback afterwards.

    There is doom and gloom for you.

  5. Watford, 1971/2 went down having scored 24 goals in 42 games, 19 points, division 2… only equalled in shitness by Stoke City 24 goals in 1984/5 which yielded 17 points in division 1 (lunchtime sandwich research!)

    Our last 24 league games….have yielded 11 goals – and 20 points. Keep this up Neal and you’ll smash that record.

    The question is, do Erik, Ivor, David and Mick think Neal is going to get 42 goals from the next 34 league games to see our survival (as Mr Author says-who the bloody hell is going to want to join a journey of relegation in January that’s not a bag of smashed twats), gathering another 41 points?

    That’s 11 wins and 8 draws and a move from 0.45 goals per game to 1.2 goals per game: and the current 0.83 points per game to 1.2. Effectively we need to treble our goal output…..
    That is doable if Cody and Lyle can score 15 each this season, assuming Appiah can hold it together for another 15 games this season and weigh in with another 5….and a handful from our jaffa midfield…(another gripe: considering where Barcham plays in the side, how does he get away without scoring?)
    But as seasoned observers noted-they body language of the players doesn’t demonstrate any faith in Neal and that he is anywhere near a “eureka” moment.
    And if he does have that moment, its likely that someone else booted the idea into his head and we just know after a few games, he’ll revert to he knows best and we’ll be back where we started – as Mr Author says “groundhog day”.

    We seem to be at that point again: murmurs about the academy (some saying its time for a grown up academy manager – and lets be honest: those that can up and leave do/have as they don’t see much of a future with Ardley in charge and Ardley patently has little trust in the players that the academy hand over to Reeves), a deathly silence over the progress of the ground, whispers about a major funder’s pocket being closed, a replaying of piles of toilet/square pegs round holes/what do the idiot fans know from a manager that has fucked up the recruitment again and run the goals as dry as a nuns fanny with 2 different squads from spring to autumn.

    Fuck me, I’ve just talked myself into some Monday club therapy.

    Erik, ring up Gills and transfer Neal pdq.

  6. I think watching AFC Wimbledon should carry a government health warning! Certainly not good for the heart and leaves you feeling depressed. Why o why are we playing Lyle Taylor on the wing and using Darius Charles up front? Watching paint dry is more exciting than watching AFC Wimbledon!

  7. I think that there’s a decent case to be made to say it’s too soon to seriously think about sacking Ardley.

    1. We’ve far from cut adrift, and indeed a couple of good results over the next few games will see us out of the bottom 4. Things can turn quickly in football – momentum is everything.

    2. At the minute it’s not working – and hasn’t worked for the big majority of this calendar year. So then it comes down to whether you think Ardley is the man to change things. This probably involves mixing up players/approach until something sticks. In previous seasons, he’s found solutions when it hasn’t worked.

    3. I’m far from convinced there’s someone better to take the job (given that he won’t know the squad and has to be pretty good at recruiting on a tight budget – albeit Neal hasn’t done all that well on this front in the last 2 summers)

    4. There IS the making of a team somewhere in here – Will and Deji look promising, Taylor/Appiah clearly are good players when fit and firing and Barcham/Forrester/Abdou look decent. I suspect it won’t get much worse (famous last words?) given that at least on paper the squad isn’t a million miles off midtable.

    Equally, I wouldn’t be gutted if he lost his job. But I suspect it will turn

    1. Jamie – I appreciate your optimism and wish to stick by NA.

      I have and I wish I still could.

      But I see no perceptible change as you suggest in point 2; he’s pulled players playing reasonably well (Hartigan) from the team and has never changed his approach (except it has happened on the pitch a couple of times by accident)

      I agree there may not be a perceptibly better candidate out there but as REPD has suggested, anyone that treats the players a different way at present will surely give rise to a change of some sort. As suggested elsewhere on this comment trail and the previous report, players do not seem to have the capacity or will to question matters. And if the senior pros in this squad cannot, we have a dictatorship and that isn’t the new AFCW way

      A decent team is in there I believe; the problem is the manager is accidently strangling it at birth!!

  8. Hi Jamie,

    As much as I want NA to continue his managerial career at the club, I find it difficult to think that he should continue his job. He appears to be in denial before and after the league games. He mentioned that the team has played well but lack the cutting edge in front of the goals in last few games. I totally disagree. The team simply couldn’t score at all. To play Darius in the forward is a total insult. How can he play a defender as a striker? This goes to show that he has no ideas on what he is doing at the moment. I will rather hope that he play Antwi as a striker instead and this makes more sense, isn’t it?

    NA has emphasized on the importance of the academy players. Yet he failed to use them when there are opportunities for him to do so. This goes to show that he does not mean when he has mentioned. We have so many talented academy players in the squad. They are Afan Egan, Egil Kaja, Toby Sibbick, Anthony Hartigan. You name them, we have them. Why didn’t NA play them in the first team? I can only think that he is scared of failure. If these academy players are not given the opportunity to do so, how do they perform and deliver the goods for the club? Look at Crewe Alexandra. The club really meant what it says. They will not hesistate to field the academy graduates in the first team and continue to field them despite how they fare in the games. These academy graduates subsequently becomes experienced and better players.

    I believe that these young academy players have the desire and hunger to be successful. NA does not seem to believe fully in them. It’s a pity.


    1. Some valid points there Ben. I can not understand why Ardley bigged up Alf Egan, put him in the team for a run, where he held his own, then bins him out the squad back to the U21’s.
      Did the same with Antwi last season – gave him a pro contract, put in him for a few games, said how deserving he was, then we don’t see him again despite our self inflicted striker muck up.
      Kaja has been knocking on the door for 2 seasons, took the criticism that he was too lightweight, spent time building muscle as asked, gets patted on the head on the OS and a few minutes here and there but never trusted.
      Hartigan has arguably been one of our 3 or 4 better players this season and MOM in 2 of them, given the plaudits by Neal then bombed out to be replaced by the clones Soares/Trotter.
      We’ve had 2 goalkeepers who won’t get a sniff of being first team pro’s at Stoke/Hull both leave when logic would of dictated that they would of had a shot of the first team here (although that’s probably more down to the choice of Neal’s 1st team keeper coach who may be a Neal yes man but I have it on reasonable authority is thought of as a bit of a wally in goalkeeping circles).
      Having watched young Toby, he has potential but he’s a way off yet (and look at his attributes-and we play him at full back??!).

      There does seem to be a level of mistrust of the academy by Neal and if he doesn’t think it produces for him perhaps it does (as some have suggested) need some proper football experience in it. And that is very hard to argue against to be honest. There is only so much Reeves can do I guess with the players he is given. But the reverse of that is true – I bet the under 18’s manager Mark Robinson finds it frustrating seeing lads struggling to progress that he obviously rates. Contrast Nightingale and Sweeney: Nightingale, talented centre half turns down opportunities elsewhere to stay: at 22 he is still a bit part player and in and out the side for 2 years. Sweeney, 2 years younger, plays every week for Bristol Rovers and has the same amount of games now under his belt….

      It does perplex that we were sold on Neal being an ex Championship academy manager and therefore would be such a good appointment for the improvement of the club – and yet in 5 years we’ve not had a player come through to nail down a position. Maybe if, just if, he does get an opportunity to turn this round, he needs to appoint an experienced academy manager that he knows will produce for him (do wonder if he’s thought of putting Reeves in charge of it because Paul Robinson has the makings of a good coach and would be a pretty inspired U21 manager?)

      1. Whilst I would strongly resist the Robinson for manager bandwagon, he has produced two very successful Youth Cup teams in the previous two seasons (I fear this one will be a let down in relative terms). Chelsea asked to play us again after the tie because we were the team that gave them a proper work-out. OK some of it was PR puff but it doesn’t look like an unsuccessful academy management team to me. Worrying about them whilst the first team can’t score seems like deckchairs on the Titanic.

        1. Mark is/has done a fine job as U18 manager-that is part of the set up best left alone but not the management of the academy. Lets say the board take your approach (you don’t see the point in change because a manager never reverses a relegation teams nosedive, if I catch the gist of what you’ve said previously?) and Ardley stays and lands us on a feather-bed in league 2 and prepares for his 6th season in June 2018. Do we ignore that Ardley doesn’t trust the players that progress from Mark Robinson to Reeves? The real productive year that the academy put through was the one of Sweeney and Agyei: that was coached by Mark each season from a very young age. But unfortunately Mark doesn’t manage the academy.
          If Ardley stays either let him appoint an experienced academy manager that he trusts or take the more radical approach: the club spends a couple of hundred thousand a year to do what? Let Ardley take 1 a year who he fluffs for a bit then puts back in the cupboard-save the money and divert it to the playing budget instead?
          I take your point about deckchairs/Titanic but we were sold on Ardley being an academy guru, to a lot of people it seems that it is another part of his position that has not worked and therefore it got deserved airtime: there is a disconnect unfortunately OI.

          1. My point about the change of managers is that statistics show that in the majority of cases it doesn’t work. Whether you think it would succeed this time possibly depends on your view of the squad and I admit I have a low opinion, others think more highly. I doubt it would be worse under a new manager so I’m not defending Ardley, I fear the fallout if/when the new guy still has us in the relegation zone in February though.

            I’d want to know more about the academy/U21/squad dynamics. If we are producing U18s who are at worst competitive with more costly academies, which we seem to be, then the problem must lie with how Reeves advances them through the development group. I don’t want him fired but it would seem the issue is more in the Reeves/Ardley interface.

            It may be romantic but I think we are a club that does encourage and develop youth and would be very sad to see that end so for me the academy is a must have.

          2. In reply to OI’s assessment above/below that the stats prove manager changes do not always bring success of course back in the TB/NA change we WERE successful albeit 20 mins from the end of the season, as Malman reminds us much further below.

            Any sad bored person fancy looking at relegated clubs from divisions over say the last 3 seasons and if they had a change of manager whether it proved successful or not?

  9. We’ve (AFCW) never beaten the Cobblers, and I can’t see it happening this weekend either. I’ve seen them a few times this year (my son supports them), and they’re in as much of a mess as we are, but Hasselbaink is flexible. IMO, he’s a better manager than Ardley.

    Northampton fans know they’re a pile of poo. They’ve just had the biggest trouncing EVER at their ground, and they know that they’ve never lost against us. They’ll be looking forward to this game kickstarting their season in the same way we will.

    I think, on Saturday, we’ll have two teams starting off with 433, but one of them will have a target man who knows what he’s doing. The other will have a proven striker who’ll be playing as a winger…

  10. As bad as we are there is a lot of shite in this division. Doncaster, Pompey, Gillingham, and Rochdale were no better than us….if we get relegated it will be entirely self inflicted. This squad is good enough to keep us in this division.

    Just play players in their positions and keep it simple it’s not rocket science – why can’t Ardley see that? Or why is nobody in the club telling him? Like any organisation it is never just one persons fault, this situation has been allowed to happen by more people than just Ardley

  11. Old I, point me in the right direction of those stats please -would genuinely be interested to have a nose.

    I think Mark R does incredibly well building a team dynamic in which the players grow and then in the second half of the season, the results take care of themselves and they progress as a unit very well in the FA cup. Whether its correct to say – in that U18 age group it does get results orientated-it has to be for example the cup progression.

    I think the discord is that they may be successful in that “bonded”/team ethos but when those that then get the Pro deal (5/6/7/8) go into an environment where their skill set/mentality is some way behind (what Neal and Alan perhaps think it should be) and there is a feeling that they should of arrived with more about them. Can’t say well don’t take them then – they still need those sort of numbers to be able to fore fill the role of the U21/development side. As you know, there are invariably only a handful that the coaches rates highly anyway, the rest are reasonable but make up the numbers and it is very rare to get a “bolter” from that “reasonable” group.

    With the worry of a new manager perhaps still having us fighting near the bottom in February, I seem to remember that when TB left we were 4th from bottom….and with 20 minutes of the season left, Neal Ardley had us heading back to the conference in the bottom 2….;-/
    No rose tinted specs for me.

    1. is one. Most studies refer to Premier League of course although there was one that looked at the top leagues across Europe with much the same results. I agree I haven’t seen a study on League 1, although apparently 3 of last years 4 relegated clubs sacked their manager in the autumn and have changed again since (not swearing to its truth). We also seem to be counting on a change of management not helping Northampton, Gillingham or Oldham very much – at least with Northampton our wishes seem to be coming true.

      1. It is pretty much out of date with the frequency that managers now change, not particularly relevant to League 1 and very much focused on its analysis…of premier league Spurs. Doesn’t seem easy to find relevant data:

        So-quick look at L1 over last 4 seasons: only looked a teams that replaced manager 19th or below. Discarded changes in March/April/May as they were all but relegated anyway. All a bit rough but –

        2013/14: 4 changes: 3 stay up, 1 went down

        2014/15: 6 changes: 4 stay up, 2 went down (being the freefalling Yeovil and Orient) ignored Creepy, manager change caused by heart attack

        2015/16: 3 changed: 1 went down (Donny) Oldham flipped twice but stayed up

        2016/17: 6 changed: 2 went down (freefalling Coventry being one)

        That is a survival rate of 68%.
        Lots of machinations behind it-some are persistent basket cases etc.

        Of the changed made before end of October, the survival rate is 75% (9 from 12)

        Summary: twist.

      2. Interesting article OI within its limitations. Worth a read folks!

        \To me the interesting point was that it was and seems always to be moving towards that 1pt/game average that triggers a possible change of manager.

        So where are we since the beginning of 2017? Certainly below that level and whilst it warns against a ‘blip’ being misinterpreted as decline I think we can all agree the decline has been going on for some time now.

        If changing a manager has not perceptible effect – bar a honeymoon uplift for up to 12 games – should it be the case that we hold on to NA for now and hold the change option for later in the season?

        1. Jampot – as above: 0.83 points per game over the last 24 games. That is March, April, May, August September and into October…
          Twist now and we have a 75% chance of survival….

  12. The real puzzle for me is why Ardley has lost any ability to recruit decent players. His real strength for his first few seasons with us was time and again finding quality players like Reeves and Robinson. Why has he lost that attribute over the past two seasons? That’s the real reason we are struggling – most of the previously established players have either aged or moved on.

  13. I am not sure what has happened can be changed quickly enough for us not get cut adrift. The only way to do it is to cut out the blue sky thinking shit and play a system that the players can play. I would agree if we are not going to use the academy then let’s save the money for the more important first team budget. It also worries the NPL is stalling as we sit tenants to a hungry Premiership wolf with nothing confirmed.

  14. There is acknowledgement we’re in trouble at every level of the club but Neal has the support of the board.

    I’d expect a change of personnel and system at Northampton, doesn’t guarantee a result this week but it will mark the start of a recovery that should keep us in touch at the bottom end of the table.

    I expect Neal to be supported with cash in January, he’ll bring in some height and we may also see 1 or 2 depart. We did recruit some good players in the summer so with a more balanced squad for the second half of the season I remain confident we’ll stay up.

    1. SSTA, you’d “expect” a change – didn’t you think that last week too? 😉 Or as part of the acknowledgement that we are in quicksand has someone said directly – bloody well shake it up Neal? Because the noise I hear is that he is roasting to the players for defensive errors and little acknowledgement that the set up of the side needs to change (eg, Fuller exposed so put Francombe in front of him, genuine width not 4/3/3 with Lyle 20 yards too wide).
      Could decide whether I join the self flagellation or scrape the mould off the bathroom shower.

  15. There is a word that describes both Ardley and those who support him whatever happens or may happen. That word is “Micawberism”. That is waiting or hoping for something to turn up aka Dickens’ character. Waiting for something to turn up will not turn the tide nor will it make any difference if the person concerned is set in his ways, convinced he is right, stubborn and blames others for his plight. Sound familiar?! Nothing is going to change unless Neal closes the book on the past six months of actual season (if that is possible) or he listens to what people are saying and selects his players in their correct positions, stops fiddling about with “formations” they do not understand, and sets up the team to cause problems to the opponents’ defence rather than worrying about how many problems they will cause ours.
    If he is to survive, not only do we need to see a fresh approach but we have to see goals and feel that the Lads have given their all for the Club as we have seen in the past for both AFC and Wimbledon FC. There is little point in continuing to defend most of the time hoping that Micawber’s twist of fate is going to happen and something does turn up, That results in “Nil” and, invariably, yet another defeat.

    1. OK I get we didn’t defend properly at Oxford and the first goal was a nightmare.

      But much for his protestations is NA not to blame?

      Bear with me: were the powder puff tackles put in by Nightingale and Desi manifestations of a manager who doesn’t like his team to get red and yellow cards? That does not want his team to claim that penalty after a gentle nudge in the tackle that’s technically illegal. Never to get involved in spats on the pitch? That is play the game the right way!

      In any other walk of life you play by the rules of life; in business in competition you use everything available in your disposal (the right side of the law) to get a gain on your competitor.

      People have said this is nothing like a Wimbledon side at times and I agree with that; I’m not advocating a return to WFC btw. But you do wonder if the life is being sucked out at ALL levels and in ALL areas.

      Robots is sometimes a very good word and when you look at the way certain players, past and present became or are shadows of their former selves then you have to ask what are the common factors?

      Well its they play for AFCW; there are the same fans in both cases; and then there is the same management.

      If a business does not perform they change the CEO or management team to change the ‘performance.’ If not slow decline continues.

      I really don’t know given the evidence posted by OI above about minimal effect of changing managers, but I just feel like something needs to be done. Something needs to change. And the only persons who can change it are the players, NA and Erik.

      Which one of them will step up to the mark first?

  16. I think NA has enough credit, for everyone to get right behind him and the team for the next 3 games. Need to remember that he is learning his trade, and mistakes will be made and need to be learned from. If however we have a nightmare in these games, then he can fuck off ( with a thank you)

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