Normal service is resumed

As your editor is off until just before the FAC game against Lincoln, a few thoughts before I go…

Firstly, Jampot was at the game, and his views will strike a chord with the majority right now:

Well we all saw that coming, didn’t we?

Organised tosser that I am, I have saved the reports I have done for SW19 this season and as I opened this document to start it I saw saved: ‘ v Shrewsbury home.’ Déjà ‘fucking’ vu!

In many respects the game was very similar; competitive between two sides with little between them, both struggling to get their season’s going. Leopard’s cubs 0 Tiger Cubs 1 in the end saw Carey, their talisman, produce a good run at GF that resulted in a pass come-shot that found a team mate 5 yards out with a suspicion of offside.

But it was given and they have a bit of Playoff revenge!

Thereafter for all the effort – and that could not be faulted – no matter how we shot, headed, flicked, blocked or threw our bodies in the way the ball would just not go it; I lost count of the deflections etc that turned a good chance into a half chance.

But in some ways that was what we expected; it’s the AFCW way.

We lacked the guile to unlock a resilient Argyle defence who came for one point and left with three.

Plus points: Kept going. Will Nightingale maturing into his role. The roving Forrester. Fans proven right.

Minus points: We lost. Unrequired change of personnel and formation. Neal Ardley’s fucking intransigence.

The referee’s a…: better one that we normally get and overall had a good game. Got the Fuller booking totally wrong, playing to the crowd. Their player wasn’t even injured. Actually could have booked a couple for simulation (Carey on 2 occasions) but then would have had to do LTB towards the end.

Them: As you would expect from a side at the bottom, with recent draws at Shrewsbury and Blackburn they came here as no mugs; well organised with what sort of looked like zonal defending inasmuch not a player at the back moved out of position or if possible his area of the pitch.

If they, like us, can move away from the bottom, remove the pressure, they might do reasonably well. Liked their No 4 N’Sogo who harassed our midfield all day.

Point to ponder: We’ve seen the importance of the shrink this year on a number of occasions. But what happens to each individual player when he’s not around? I guess the players formulate or internalise what is happening around them to themselves.

So, I wonder when replacing Kaja with Abdou the players internalised that – perhaps unconsciously – as a more defensive formation, irrespective of what NA said?

It was commented to me within the first 10 minutes that there was not the intensity or tempo from Tuesday night. It may have been fatigue, or I think it’s more this psychological slap down brought about by NA.

The fans can’t have been the only ones to think – unchanged team. Kaja was not injured as he played pretty well when he came on (as it almost forced Forrester into the middle and we probably created more chances in the last 20 than the rest of the match!).

And to insult us more he replaced Abdou! QED.

But why bring him on at the end of the game when we needed him at the beginning, particularly as we knew weather conditions would influence this game and needed the energetic start. we never made that first half advantage tell, did we?

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The ref overtly checking and counting our players on the pitch at the beginning of the second half; maybe he’d heard we were trying to slip an extra on. 2) So what happened to Storm Brian then? Maybe he got a better offer from Hurricane Ophelia now she calmed down. It was windy but nothing spectacular but I hate wind at games as I feel it always spoils them. 3) The collective sigh outside the ground of fans realising NA had changed the team before the game.

Anything else? Yep – so why change the formation and the positions people play? if it ain’t broke don’t fix it Ardley. Forrester spent most of the match on the right of a loose front 3 (was it a 4-3-3 because I rarely saw Forrester supporting Lyle during the first 70 mins), totally wasted.

Abdou – perhaps for his height – is drafted into midfield with Trotter allowed to roam forward. Not what I expected and pretty sure not what I would have done.

Of course, some suggested George Francomb to be restored to the right wing back role and bring in the better equipped and better going forward Kennedy or Deji at left back. After their goal, and the performance of Carey against a makeshift full back, was this one game too many for GF at LB?

I came yesterday with little expectation of a win to make it 3 in a row; I know this club too well.

I applaud the players efforts but it was not to be: a bit Shrewsbury with a bit of Rochdale too. I knew 2 wins were not going to be the start of our Indian summer, as that rarely happens.

But I also say that I am not surprised that NA did fiddle with the team, the formation, and not set the team up for the first half with some gusto.

Players have to deliver the performance but they really do look to be shackled by a man who just cannot leave things alone. Perhaps his post match review may contain contrition but in the end that does not matter.

He has done it again and he will continue to do it again.

I think at present all we can hope for is that sometimes he will get it right; and other times circumstances will force him to change to encompass the more logical way we should play with the players we have available.

So, was it worth it? Disappointing but we got 6pts out of the 9pts we hoped for

In a nutshell: We’re still trying to change the leopard’s spots.

I think yesterday was summed up when a well-known SW19 contributor texted your editor, and said these simple words:

Just can’t help himself…

We all know who the “himself” refers to, and the reaction to everything since the full time whistle has been very telling.

See, even before Northampton, there were still plenty who were willing to give NA just that extra bit of time, that it would turn around and all that. And for a brief couple of days, that’s exactly what happened.

And then there was yesterday.

This was the most predictable result and performance of the day, wasn’t it? And I think this is what has pissed people off in a manner that we didn’t even see a mere week or two ago.

Many will want NA gone anyway, for reasons we’ve gone through in the past few weeks, but I think you can add quite a few more to that list now. And there’s now a lot of waverers (at best) from the previously loyal too.

To change a winning team is one thing, if there’s injuries or if the opposition would cause problems. To do it against a side that is bottom, and with a record even worse than ours – you can look it up yourself – is just unforgivable.

And that is what I think has sent the mood and patience right down this morning.

Those who have defended our current manager against places like this, like WUP and other social media outlets may be forgiven for feeling their loyalty has been rewarded with a slap in the face this morning.

Which in many ways, they have. They do the stick-behind-the-manager stuff like any “true fan” is supposed to, and what do they get in return? Well, they get to be made look foolish in front of the more jaundiced of us.

See, people can excuse us being shit, at least up to a point. But they don’t like their support taken for granted, especially as the club itself does that too often.

And it’s especially unforgivable when we play Rotherham and play like we should be playing. That was a nice four days after that contest, wasn’t it? Shame it was such a short time to enjoy the football again.

Should I mention more that others have pointed out so many times themselves? Probably not, but I’ll put this one out for discussion – I wonder what the players are thinking this morning.

Professional footballers can be egotists at the best of times, but they’re not going to appreciate being made to look bad then get blamed for it in public by their manager. Especially one who can’t back it up himself where it matters.

So it might not matter if NA has raised their voice to them, if they’re stopping listening. They’re not the best in the world, but it’s not their fault they’ve been crippled by consistently awful tactics.

Which is why I think they’re starting to make a point whenever the sports shrink turns up to stop the self-harming. What message are they conveying when they suddenly (cough) start busting a gut when he’s there?

They want to be left alone to get on with it, to play in their proper positions, to play without getting berated because they dared to have an individual thought during play. To think about attacking the goal rather than defending “the shape” that has been imposed upon them.

In other words, they’ve been stating that the way they have to play just doesn’t work. And they’re trying to find somebody – anyone – who will listen.

I expect there’s going to be a lot of soul searching, the usual “heart to heart” which seems less like getting it in the open and more like a Harvey Weinstein job interview now.

Yes, we got the six points out of nine, but that’s probably as good as it gets for a little while, especially now we’ve taken two steps backwards again. And the worst thing of all, it’s for no reason whatsoever.

See you before we play Lincoln. If we haven’t all killed each other by then…


27 thoughts to “Normal service is resumed”

  1. If the ref was counting the players he was probably checking if we’d got ENOUGH men on the pitch since we effectively played with 10 for the whole match. Like most of you my heart sank when I saw the team list, but not in my wildest dreams would I have predicted that Liam Trotter would be playing instead of Forrester in the ‘number 10’ role behind the striker. He was completely lost there, the game just passing him by – he’s probably been a decent player in the past (22 goals at Milwall ?), but he hasn’t got the pace, energy or skill to play that role.
    I know its all been said already, but WHY move Forrester out to the wing, WHY play another over-30 in midfield instead of Hartigan, WHY bring on McDonald rather than move Forrester into the middle, WHY wait til the 77th minute to bring on Kaja, WHY isnt Kennedy given a chance – even as a sub ?
    Can anyone see where the goals are going to come from to keep us in this League ? Lyle, HF and Barch are the only ones who even look like they can score, can you survive in this league with a midfield that doesnt score at all ? .

  2. One point of fact. Kaja replaced Francomb, Abdou was replaced by McDonald which seemed a very strange substitution, I don’t quite know what the formation was then meant to be and Abdou did seem to have a bit more life to him than Soares and, in particular, Trotter.

    1. Thanks OI. Apologies for the error there … obviously the substitutions had me as much confused as the players

  3. As others have said, this was the most predictable result. It hurts that we let the bottom team come and beat us without too much difficulty at home. We should have known the importance of this game as things stand. NA I’ve realized is way out of touch with reality and should do the honourable thing and resign. Granted he got us promotion but throughout his tenure I was expecting Wimbledon esque performances of old as he used to keep company with the crazy gang. But, we are playing like frightened kids under him. The fact franchise turned us over at home so easily and also why we have lost more games against than won under NA would tell you he has killed the Wimbledon ethos. There is no guts, desire or determination in our play. To play without these qualities against franchise is unforgivable. I now do blame the AFCW management as they are too pally with NA. Having racing trips and drinking together, posting pictures on Twitter now, it is making it hard for them act with a clear head and do the right thing and cut NA, Cox and Bassey loose. The fact bassey coaches the strikers is a joke now and is showing. NA thinks he’s like the Premier League mangers but remember they have better personnel and doubt do half the tinkering he does. I think get Wally Downes in as intermediate coach to help stabilize the ship, put square pegs into square holes and reestablish our Wimbledon identity that is painfully missing. I hope DT are reading this and sort out NA’s tenure in the next meeting. We need to act before it’s too late.

  4. I’m afraid Will getting MOTM was odd, his clearances are shocking and he leads us in to trouble at times. Deji shouldn’t be benched for him. Poor tactics on the day as well observed by everyone. This disconnect between the club staff/management and fans is going to get nasty if not resolved. I personally have felt very disillusioned for a while.

  5. Hi all,

    To be honest, I am totally distraught by the Plymouth loss. This goes to show that NA is not the man to take the club forward any more. He is simply too stubborn in his tactics and kept on believing that he will pull the club through and survive the relegation this season. I do not know why he still believed in his strategy. I think that it has to go under some sort of strong belief which the team can execute his tactics and get it back to the winning way. The call for his dismissal has been growing and I believe that the club management is well aware about it. There is a possibility that there will be a decision made soon. It is likely to be after the appointment of the Chief Operating Officer. I think that ES does not want to make this decision too soon.

    The above are just my views. I might be wrong. Does anymore have clearer insight on the view of the club management on the current circumstance? Is NA going to be sacked soon?


  6. The relationship between Ardley and the fans is hitting an all time low but I think it takes two to tango.

    I don’t agree with some fans’ assertion that Ardley stumbled on a formation that worked against Northampton and Rotherham, with Charles playing centre-half, Forrester in the hole, and Egli Kaja playing right wing. I’m a signed up member to the Gary Player school on the subject of luck, it wasn’t luck that won us those two games last week and Ardley should have been given credit for changing things but a fair few fans were saying “I told you so” as if they had known all along. I also agree with Cox’s argument around the time of the Oxford game about bad luck – we had not been a good attacking unit but we were not that bad.

    The changes to the team for Plymouth (there were at least three – moving Trotter in the hole behind Taylor, Forrester out wide right and bringing in Abdou as holding midfielder) don’t make any sense and neither does it make sense Ardley’s refusal after the game to admit there was such a system change.

    My only conclusion is the tactical change and denial of that change was Ardley trying to make a statement to the fans. The fan criticism had persisted last week even when he probably felt (maybe rightly) that he didn’t deserve that criticism and he is just reacting to it. His anger with the fans is thinly veiled.

    I’ll freely admit, I’ve never really been an Ardley fan, we have not been a particularly good attacking side but there has been incredible bad luck in front of goal this season, yesterday I don’t know how the hell we didn’t score with our multiple golden chances in the last 12 minutes. We’ve played well before and not gotten our just desserts – the first half at home to Gillingham springs immediately to mind.

    I think Ardley is acting as if he is close to quitting which would be very bad news for us as I don’t believe in changing managers.

    1. I’m sure he does get a raw deal from fans at times and did choose the formation against Northampton and Rotherham but there are also people (not me) who c an claim they had been campaigning for Tay;or in the middle, Forrester behind him and Charles in defence for several games. I feel they are entitled to a little bit of “told you so”.

      But if he changed the selection to make a statement to the fans, to me that would be a sacking offence. I don’t think he did do it for that reason though.

  7. I called NA reverting to type on Facebook after the Rotherham game. I got slapped down for it. I then got slapped down again for pointing it out. Can’t believe there are still people blindly supporting NA.

  8. Man up, Ardley. Just for once, stop trying to pass the blame on to the players, or the fans and take it on the chin. You got it wrong, wrong, wrong and everyone knows it. The Emperor has no clothes!

  9. The problem is that’s it’s getting so bad now I’m starting to go off Ivor as well as Nil Ardley which isn’t good

  10. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    For 34 years I have loved to watch our beloved Wimbledon win, lose or draw. On Saturday for the first time mid-way though the second half I felt ‘I can’t watch this anymore’. Of course I did continue to watch, but were any of us shocked at how the match played out?! None of us take pleasure in criticising but this has gone past the ridiculous. Never have I seen (or heard) the fans so in agreement about basic team selections and formations yet in total disagreement with the management. WHAT IS ARDLEY THINKING? We all know Trotter is abysmal and dis-interested. We all know Forrester has amazing potential and should be playing centrally in order to get him as much of the ball as possible. We all know that Francombe isn’t a left-back (but at least he gives it everything). And we all know that Barry Fuller is past it (bless him).

    I am so frustrated by Ardley’s insistence on reverting to what we all know is wrong that I have started reading psychology definitions of stubbornness in the hope that I can start to understand what he is doing! Someone needs to sit him down and explain a minimum of 3 things:

    1. No one man is bigger than the club. His stubbornness and (let’s be honest) stupidity in selection is costing the club dearly. We do not want to, and cannot afford to be relegated. His ego must be put away and he needs to make decisions that are best for the club.
    2. The least we expect from a Dons team is fight and commitment. We do not expect our team to roll over and have their tummy tickled like a bunch of mercenaries. If we are going to lose, let’s at least lose fighting.
    3. Whilst I do not believe in singling out players, this individual deserves it – Trotter has no place in our team – now, next week or ever.

    This list could go on, but there is little point in repeating what others have already written, but my last point remains clear…

    The main frustration (and I’m guessing many peoples) is that Saturday’s loss was totally avoidable. All of this is totally avoidable! One man’s poor decision making and insistence on failing to do the obvious is costing us points. None of us are asking for the world; all we want is the best possible outcome from the squad we have. Plymouth were beatable (extremely beatable), yet a failure to put the correct 11 players in the correct positions has cost us once more. The fans definitely aren’t to blame, the players must take some of the blame, but we all know where the blame really lies…

  11. 2 days kicking it over. Us owners and fans deserve a lot more than this. As many have said, if its not your day, you go down fighting having at least made a concerted effort to of won the game in the first 70 minutes.

    A man that has to consistently justify and explain his decisions is ultimately a shit decision maker.

    Perhaps that needs to be written on the gaffers door.

    Ardley looking scalded when he talks to Chris Slavin. Sheesh. You are lucky its not one of us owners/fans putting the questions to you…

    And Ivor getting a strop on with a fan making a perfectly valid point? It is our club too Ivor. Might of been uncomfortable but he had a right to say it whether you think he is a dickhead or not..

    I struggle to see why the board think backing him in the transfer window is the right decision. He may get the right players but as we’ve continually watched, the player will then be stripped of his mojo, played out of position and then be chastised for not doing it the Neal way…

    My ITK bod says one of our loanees has spoken to his parent club for a way out…

    The digs at the players that left. Reeves and Poleon haven’t looked back. Perhaps the counter argument of “they were hard to manage/not a good vibe” is that they thought Ardley was selling them short and might of actually had the bollocks to say it to him. Elliot made his decision in January not to sign. Way before Millwall were in a position to offer him good money…

    The board backing Ardley says that the dross that he serves up in 80% of the games is acceptable in exchange for us treading water between mid table L2 and the odd upward dalliance. What exactly is it that we think or expect he can turn round? The 3 games of Northampton, Rotherham and Plymouth are a perfect example of a week of Ardleys management: Over cautious, pick up a spawny win. Blow own trumpet. Players believe for 5 minutes. Onto the next one, reward players with correct starting position, get some traction, win game. We dare to think he’s learned finally? Revert back to negative Neal, who knows best, back to unplayable system, players baffled – mugged by worst team in league. We’ve seen this play book 20 times over the last 5 years…it has just about sucked the life out of the fan base, the players. It’s exhausting…..

    Makes me think of a mate of mine a few years ago. Seduced by a woman who appeared to tick all the boxes. 4 years later, bored out of his brain. He dropped subtle hints.For a week or two he thought things were improving. Then she went back to same old same old. Repeated many times. Eventually he went to see a relationship counsellor to see what he could do to offer more support, resolve the issue, to understand what he needed to do to remedy the problem. Then finally, came the heart to heart. He asked her to change as the inertia and boredom was strangling the life out of him and he couldn’t see a way forward without change.

    “But Darling, I don’t understand. I am the same person that I was when you met me”.

    You get to the point that analysis is no longer required. You are desperately unhappy. You can’t turn someone into something they are not. You don’t shard your pants and think ‘but what if I can’t do any better’. You simply get on with improving your life. It’s just the way it is. And then, perhaps in years to come, you look back on some fond memories because you were brave enough to do the right thing before it turned to vitriol and hate.

    So what’s it to be FCB?
    Because, watching Wimbledon feels like being stood there watching the same shit movie over and over, waiting for the 5 minutes that was quite good, weighed down with a 25kg bag of spuds on our shoulders….

  12. Those who still sit in the “Three Amigos” camp are still trotting out the same old excuses for their survival – bad luck, the budget, players not doing what they are told, the Fans not getting behind the team or the Manager – the list goes on. However, each of these excuses can be easily dismissed; bad luck and lack of goals cannot possibly last for more than 6 months of football league action; the Budget appears to be the problem every time we lose yet is never mentioned on the few occasions we have won a match irrespective of how “rich” the team was the we defeated! As for the players not doing what they were told – it appears that they never do when we lose, irrespective of the obvious problems that always arise when NA messes about with formations and “style”. His favourite formations have produced defeat after defeat and mostly without a goal scored so, to me, that shows the players either don’t understand what they are supposed to do or are so pissed off they no longer give a toss.
    As far as the Fans are concerned, if they do not idolise NA no matter what he does, they are expected to watch months of crap play plus the constant tinkering of the Manager (to no avail, of course) and put up with everything else that goes with it (such as the terrible runs without wins or goals) whilst being branded by the aforementioned followers and the Manager himself as idiots not understanding the game.
    These excuses have gone on far too long – if NA is to go then he should as soon as possible. If he is to stay then Erik and Co. need to have serious words with him, Cox and Bassey and, if necessary, one or other (or both) should be under threat. The original 3 Amigos lived in a fantasy world but wised up in the end – I can’t see these three going the same way!

  13. And just when an insightful article and review from our editor is required – he naffs off on holiday!!!

    Maybe on return a write up on how this feels like September/October 2012….
    Good chance that when he return the atmosphere could be very toxic.

    1. It’s not a holiday 😉

      It’s also more difficult to write the same stuff as you have done for the last three years.

      Just getting on a flight to New York…

  14. Expect the clique and the self righteous to bleat ‘not a propa fan’ but I just can’t watch anymore of Ardley’s turdball.

    I normally get to 15-18 games a season but a few of us have decided we’ll do a social one around Christmas and then think again in the New Year but no more KM for the foreseeable.

    Ardley could make a tits n beer bar on Miami Beach look boring.

    So, we’ll be watching the U18/U21’s where Mark Robinson and Alan Reeves do seem to have a clue as to what its all about.
    If you are as bored as we are – see you there.


  15. As a fan who’d like the manager to change, I feel in a strange position. I’ve never felt this way before. Withe didn’t work out but he wasn’t around long, similarly with Egil Olsen.

    I would be interested to hear from Erik or Ivor exactly why they have so much faith in a man who makes so many basic mistakes over & over. Think this disconnect between a fair group of the fanbase and those who run the club is not good and as a fan it all feels very strange. Normally we’ve been pretty together off the field recently but times are changing even if our manager isn’t.

    1. Never get it but a MtM at the mo would be interesting. NA would know what 95% of the questions would be and could mount a defence of his tactics

  16. Having now had over 48 hours to ponder upon Saturday, I’m still seriously fucking angry. Our loss to Plymouth was so needless. If only Ardley was capable of not meddling with the team.

    Why the fuck would you drop Kaja, push Forrester out wide, bring in Abdou and put Trotter in the middle up behind Lyle? Then, when it all goes wrong you blame the players and accept no responsibility yourself.

    I’ve absolutely had enough of Ardley, he just can’t help himself thinking that he knows better than to persist with tactics that have consistently be proven to be shit. Any level of criticism from the fans is met with ‘what the fuck would you know’. His arrogance and disdain for the fans is astounding.

    The level of universal criticism online against him is unprecedented, and yet nothing will sink into that thick head of his. I am in no doubt that while he remains with the club he will only continue to damage us. Any faint sign that he has learnt something will soon be dispelled within a couple of games. While he remains with us the only possible outcome for this season is relegation. 🙁

  17. Some stats for you.

    Top 10 longest serving current league mangers by win %

    Wenger 57.6, Howe 45, Hill 42.5, Ainsworth 40, Brown 40, Dyche 38.8, McCarthy 38.3, Tisdale 38, ARDLEY 33.8, Bentley 30.5.

    And to think that includes a promotion.

    1. Ardley loves stats so much so I hope because aware of those. Ultimately they’re the only ones that matter.

      1. To take one name from that list I’ve always felt Ainsworth was a fairly limited manager but at the level we’re at I’d take him over Ardley all day. At least I could turn up to a home game against the injury-ridden bottom side knowing we would be going all out to win.

    2. I think you have a minor typo, Ardley’s win percentage is 33.3%. Terry Brown’s only full season in the Football Leguae (2011/12) was 32.6%.

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