Update: Just added a clarification to a bit that is self-explanatory. I hope…

And we’re in the next round of the FA Cup.

OK, it was just one goal, and some of it sounded as convincing as an alibi from Kevin Spacey, but at least we won’t have a spare weekend on the 2nd/3rd of December.

Not many of us turned up to see it, although STTA did…

Job done.

And credit to all involved for that. Because losing wasn’t an option yesterday afternoon. There are enough knives out as it is without a 1st round exit in the cup which would have plummeted us to new depths of despair.

And that was definitely on the table. A struggling League One team, a cold rainy day at KM and a bunch of well funded league 2 cloggers who have recent pedigree in the competition.

To add to those concerns we suffered a couple of late injuries which scuppered the formation and personnel we were planning to use, given all that I thought it was a pretty comfortable win.

We ended up going in 442. No Trotter or Francomb but a recall for Callum and an opportunity to see Lyle and Cody as a front pair.

We started well. Decent tempo to our play as we put in our usual energetic opening 20 minutes. The goal was as much down to Lincoln’s defensive ineptitude as any of our qualities but Taylor buried the chance beautifully.

Once we’d scored I felt pretty comfortable about getting through. One of our strengths is keeping a lead and we looked more than capable of holding an inferior side at bay.

We had to shuffle the team when Lyle departed and there’s no doubt we carry much less attacking threat without him but on this occasion we didn’t need another goal.

The defence was well marshalled by Darius and despite a second half push by the visitors George was never called into serious action.

Plus points – Darius & Deji pairing. Cody looking better with a partner. Second round draw to look forward to.

Minus points – we’re stacking up injuries.

The referees a – annoying little twat. Thought he got plenty of decisions wrong, didn’t cost us anything this time so already forgotten.

Them – a handy reminder why we don’t want to be heading back to League Two in May. Few ugly lumps amongst them but very little footballing ability.

Point to ponder – do people underestimate the importance on Jon Meades to our team? I rate him highly and believe results will improve with him back in the side.

“But he won’t score goals” I hear people shout. Maybe not but we’ve not been getting battered this season. If Meadsey had been in the team and able to contribute to the odd goal or stop 1 or 2 going in at the other end we could easily be sitting 5 or 6 places higher in the table.

To evidence the point I looked back at last season. JM missed the opening 5 games, our record in that period was P5 W0 D1 L4. He returned against Rochdale and our form in the following 15 games was P15 W7 D6 L2.

Definiely a key member of our best XI and now he’s back I hope our results will improve in similar fashion this campaign.

Which leads me on to my concerns about the next couple of months.

I don’t think the ‘crisis’ is anywhere near as bad as some fans make out. Neal has been given the job of keeping us in the league and if he does it with 0-0’s and 1-0 wins that’s up to him.

It’s then a decision for the board what value they put on our League One status and how they balance that with dwindling attendances and general dissatisfaction with the entertainment value of Ardleyball (copyright Kentish Don).

If Neal keeps us in the division I can’t see the board not renewing his contract.

[SW19 note, with updated clarification: I believe the criteria is whatever our budget is position wise, then about five or six places above that. I would guess that it’s a bit of a rule of thumb, that there are other non-statistic factors coming into play, but however you look at it  – right now, our current manager is underachieving by a fair distance.]

But if we pick up a couple more injuries and we get relegated things could be very different. That’s been a concern since August, a small squad containing players like Appiah and Meades always carries that risk.

But it hit home again yesterday when Lyle needed to go off. We had nobody on the bench vaguely suited to replacing him.

So all we can do is cross our fingers for now but whether it’s a lump or not it’s essential we bring in another striker in the window. I hope we have plenty of irons in the fire already because this is the one piece of January business that’s crucial to our survival.

The other HR issue I hope we have in hand is Darius’ next contract. He’s in the last year of his current deal and having seen the difference he’s made to our team since his return I’d like him signed up on as longer a deal as we can offer.

Truth is stranger than fiction – being denied entry to the bar for MOTM because I didn’t have my match tickets. Yeah but I’m stood here with my 2 kids wearing Wimbledon shirts, do I look like a hoolie from Lincoln?

“That’s the rules” they tell me.

We’re supposed to be a fan owned club and employing the services of security people with absolutely zero common sense (yes I know 99% of bods in this profession don’t have 2 brain cells to knock together) when you haven’t publicised the fact you need your ticket to get in the bar is quite frankly shit.

Fortunately I wandered up to the other door where we walked straight in, which kind of sums up the idiocy of such arrangements anyway.

Anything else – no word from Neal this week and I can’t say I blame him. When everything you say and do is criticised it’s best to come out the firing line for a while.

He can’t say anything in his pre or post match interviews without fans moaning and I thought there was a complete over reaction to him basically saying he’d review some video with Will.

News of a loan move to Sutton Utd for Alfie Egan will break shortly and I expect some will see that as reason to have another go about the youth. The reality is Alfie’s not ready for league 1 football and a spell on loan in the Conference will do his development no end of good.

Neal’s been well and truly battered in recent weeks, and whilst some decisions deserve scrutiny he still has us outside the relegation places and into the next round of the cup.

Maybe now he deserves a bit of a break and the time to get his squad producing the form they’re clearly capable of.

And finally – a quiet week before we take on Posh on the telly. Sounds like we need that breather to patch up a few walking wounded and prepare ourselves for the tough fixtures ahead.

As a well known commentator said on the 9 years forum we have let some 3 point opportunities pass us by in recent weeks against fellow members of the bottom 8 club.

That means we need to pick up results in some tougher fixtures. If we can get something near our first XI on the pitch for the next 4 or 5 games I have a feeling we might do exactly that.

So was it worth it – nice break from the League.

In a nutshell – anyone but Franchise please.

I don’t know what the draw numbers tomorrow are, but I bet ours and Franchise are being warmed up as we speak.

The one good thing about cup ties is that they are once-offs. History is littered with clubs who are doing shite in the league but get a bit of a boost when it comes to knock-out stuff.

And for our own mental health if nothing else, we needed yesterday. I shudder to think if we’d drawn that game, or – Satan forbid – even lose it. And it would have been interesting if Lincoln had more about them…

The general consensus from those there was that we were good in the first ten minutes or so, got the goal, Taylor went off and that was about it really. Or in a nutshell, job definitely done.

A few things though. I don’t think this is really going to make too much difference to how we perform in the league. Yesterday was a pleasing result, but our issues are too deep for it to change with one game.

We’re not like Brentford (where your editor was yesterday evening) because one genuinely had that feeling they could improve – and as it turns out, that’s what they did. We don’t have that sense about us, and if truth be told I don’t think we will even after January.

Or if we did get a decent win or two, we’d slink back to old ways pretty quickly.

Meades returning is a good thing, though whether he’s going to remain sans blessure for long enough remains to be seen. Unfortunately, one suspects Appiah is going to be in that same category as well.

The tactics yesterday worked, although they’re supposed to against a side in a lower division than us. That said though, we did seem to come out quite positively from the start, which likely won us the contest.

Wonder if that was a post-Charlton reaction as much as an FA Cup one?

Speaking of which, I note NA didn’t do the post-game interview. He doesn’t have to, of course, but I think it would have been a good opportunity for him, even if it was only a “we’re in the next round of the FA Cup and we’re looking to use it as a springboard in the league”.

Bland platitudes, but speaking from a purely professional point of view, doing that does get people onside a bit more when a manager is in damned-if-he-does/doesn’t mode.

I don’t doubt the Sun report post-Charlton stung him, although it wasn’t unjustified, and all it does is make him look a bit of a slapped arse instead.

Perhaps the most telling thing of yesterday was the crowd, or lack of it. 1000 Imps made the attendance more respectable than it otherwise would have been. And I think that’s a message to AFCW itself there.

People had the choice of paying extra to watch, let’s face it, boring shit and unsurprisingly they didn’t take it up this weekend.

Your editor knew quite a few stay-aways, and it was interesting how many of them were explicit in doing so. They didn’t like the current product, they felt they would be paying too much for it, and so they voted with their feet.

The days of everyone turning up no matter what probably never existed, but more and more people are becoming more discerning now. Partly due to cost, partly due to there not being a “need” to support the club so much these days.

But it’s primarily everyone having higher minimum standards of what they expect now. If people think it’s worth turning up, they’ll do so. If not…

Obviously, if we get a plum draw tomorrow evening, then suddenly everyone will be claiming they’ve never missed a game and should have first dibs on a ticket.

Though what would constitute a decent tie in the second round I don’t know. Anything like Leatherhead or Maidstone would be better away, and as Slutton and Curzon last year should have proved, ties against non-league sides can be the most tricky of the lot.

Another L2 side will get the same response as when we drew Lincoln out, unless it’s a decent away game, although ironically our best bet for the third round tie against Burton may be a L1 outfit.

Especially one riding high, where they will probably put out a weaker side to concentrate on the league.

Que sera sera, and all that. Normal service will probably resume next Sunday, but for now it’s the FA Cup, and anything can happen. Christ, we even managed to score a goal…

63 thoughts to “Imp-rovisation”

  1. I have to heartily disagree with the view that Egan is not ready for League One football. He has looked okay so far and he needs more time and games in League One to be ready for League One football. Loaning him out to a Conference football will not get him ready for League One football. We either bite the bullet and accept that when we play the academy players and what comes with inexperienced footballers or we might as well not bother having any academies at any level and use that money to buy another player or two.
    I certainly do not see the difference over what Egan produces and what the three wardrobes in the middle give us at greater expense.
    We are playing boring, turgid football and we can quite easily get relegated. Do we want to go through this season being too timid to try and develop the academy players or just watch another 6 months of a boring as fuck midfield of Trotter, Soares and Abdou in the vain hope of maybe finishing fifth from bottom?
    I’d rather us play some positive, purposeful football and give the youngsters a go. Yesterday showed that the lack of loans and a few means we will have to play them anyway so we might as well commit ourselves to youth.
    What is more depressing playing in L2 or producing terrible football trying to finish fifth from bottom season after season? Sunderland did that for few seasons and look at them now.

  2. Well done STTA, for balanced report. Not many of those around these days, as perspective seems to have gone out of the window.
    Rob, I have to take issue with a couple of your points:
    1. In yesterday’s programme, Erik stated that he expected our budget to be 20th or 21st in the league this season. His ‘measure of success’ for the manager was to be 5/6 places higher, but not achieving that in one season should not be a reason to sack him, surely?
    2. The closest parallel with yesterday’s match was the home first round tie with Forest Green two years ago – attendance 2465, with 2334 home fans, so virtually an identical turnout.
    It is easy to put negative spin on stats, but most WUPpers were expecting less that 3000 to turn up, so a positive spin could also have been put on the same attendance figure.

      1. Our benchmark has to start at our playing budget, and expecting a manager to outperform his budget year after year is foolish. Every club wants their manager to outperform their budget, but it is a zero sum game, sum will over perform and some will underperform. The solution is not to sack the manager when he slightly underperforms, the solution is to give him a mid-table budget, or accept that at some stage we are liable to be relegated back into a division where our budget is competitive. This is why the talk of sacking Ardley is ridiculous – using up budget to pay off contracts, bring in new personnel and players, simply reduces the overall budget and makes the starting point even lower down the scale.

        Sadly, though, logical argument is often ignored when emotions come into play…

        1. “Our benchmark has to start at our playing budget, and expecting a manager to outperform his budget year after year is foolish. ”

          Well, we’ve been doing that for a number of years, by the sounds of it.

          Besides, budget is not the be-all and end-all – things like getting an effective team, proper workable tactics and a backbone can’t be bought.

          Christ, the Leeds manager made a “budget” comment yesterday and apparently got laughed at…

        2. Talk of sacking Ardley isn’t ridiculous, it might be wrong but one can make a rational argument for it:
          -Nobody knows what the compensation would be as it is negotiated not fixed in stone.
          -Managers get stale and are no longer able to rouse the team (not exactly the same thing as losing the dressing room)
          -New tactics might be more (or less) successful but also might be more entertaining and there is a malaise at the moment with people voting with their feet.

          I wouldn’t sack Ardley at the moment but I wouldn’t call those who want to, ridiculous or illogical and if they ‘won’ I’d hope I’d enjoy the football more.

  3. Silk’s comments are right on the mark.

    If we are so short of firepower, why isn’t Jayden Antwi not even making it to the bench? Got caught out with that strategy yesterday, due to Lyle’s injury, but managed to get away with it.

    If you are good enough, you are old enough, i.e. Anthony Hartigan.

    Now thanks to Silk, AFC have their own version of ‘The Three Tenors’, ‘The Three Wardrobes’. Like your style.

    Yesterday proved that if you keep producing a consistently inferior entertainment product, then demand for it will eventually fall away.

    1. A few of us that can’t watch the turgid dog shit that Ardley REPEATEDLY serves up (for the best part of year now Neal, thanks) have watched the yoof – 16/18/21’s.
      Young Antwi that plenty are calling for – miles off at present sadly. He had his exposure at the back end of last season and hasn’t been at it since. From what I’ve seen he was a gamble with a contract anyway, trying to turn a pacey lump into a footballer/goalscorer. But we wish the boy well anyway.
      Echo some of the comments here with regard to Sutton for Egan. Would be a good move if he was a mile behind the 3 stooges because they were on the money: but they aren’t and I’d be more inclined to see one of the stooges shifted off the wage bill, only Abdu is worth a wank. Whither poor Hartigan too.

      And the Ardley damned if he does/damned if he doesn’t, avoiding the fans, media and interviews. Sorry, can’t be that prissy. It’s the managers job, grow a pair and get out there. Plays those games when you are at a Chairman owned club Ardley.

  4. STTA is more of an Ardley fan than I am but all the points he made seem perfectly reasonable to me and not deserving of him being slagged off, I’d hate him to decide that this place is as unsuited to his opinions as he did WUP.

    I know the warm balls is a joke but it is now an out-of-date joke, the authorities were never interested in setting up the matches and I’d bet the TV companies would now ignore the game if it was drawn out of the hat – two mediocre League 1 teams, how exciting is that?

    A lot of people seemed to take the opportunity of a main stand ticket not taken up by the season ticket holder, the area around me was packed but three quarters of them were new faces. It wasn’t really a game that will have them queuing round the block in the future but maybe a few will be back, so thanks to those who made the seats available.

  5. My forecast of 0-0 proved incorrect. So, pleased with a 1-0. Feel it could have been more had Lyle stayed on, he and Cody looked the part which is encouraging, if we can keep Lyle fit.
    Lincoln were an awful team – looked and played like non leaguers, Matt Rhead looked like a Sunday League sub.
    I was very impressed by Forrester, he worked very hard all game and has some skill too. If we played another midfielder with similar attributes we could be on our way to turning a corner.
    Defence solid, bit worried about the goalie, almost gifted them a goal and his kicking is very erratic.

  6. Just nice to be turning on bbc2 tomorrow night for the 2nd round draw. I don’t care that we were pretty shit yesterday. An easy draw, then away to a big gun in round 3, and then Football is fun again. But then again, it always is really. Oh, the magic of the cup must be working

    1. This usually lasts until the time the numbers get drawn out, and you realise what a horrible/uninspiring tie it is 😉

  7. I agree with the author’s comment that the crisis is not as bad as some fans are making out.

    F.A. Cup disinterest from the fans is an ongoing thing in the early rounds over the last few seasons so the low home crowd was no surprise. I don’t think the low turnout that can be pinned on Ardley’s tactics this season.

    I’ve not been an Ardley fan historically but my opinion is we are in a false league position and results will turn around.

    1. “I’ve not been an Ardley fan historically but my opinion is we are in a false league position and results will turn around.”

      I think our problem isn’t that we’re a bad side, though we have issues, but if we do look like results are going to turn the shackles get put back on.

      If they had got kept off, we’d likely be on a 6/7 run without being unbeaten and we’d be a lot happier.

      1. Agree that the Plymouth game tactics and Ardley’s post-game comments pissed a lot of people off who do not normally get pissed off. He has done it before. However, aside from that game, the last 5 games or so have been good performances. Maybe I’m defensive minded but Darius Charles (paying centre-half, not striker) is worth the entrance fee alone.

  8. Hong Kong. Imps fans over 1k. Gate roughly same as last year when FGR fans only a couple of hundred. Same round/competition.

    Would be interested why do you think hundreds stayed away if it wasn’t for Neal’s Murderball?

    1. We didn’t play FGR last year, it was two years ago. However, my point still stands, the FGR gate was around 2,400 mostly home fans, yesterday’s gate versus Lincoln was 3,400 – around 2,400 home fans. Home turnout 2,400 in both matches. There have been other disappointingly low turnouts – Bury last year was 2,400 – again mostly home fans.

      Our fans generally do not bother with the F.A. Cup unless it is a big tie and it cannot be pinned on Ardley.

      1. Ok fair point. Although the we don’t bother with the FA cup – see Sutton Utd ticket frenzy…..

        Gills at KM in Oct 2016, 4650.
        Gills at KM in Sept 2017, 3800.

        Right now we are in D1 and not D2 and played against a D1 team with pedigree rather than tofu club from the Conference.

        1. Sutton was a televised game and well publicised, they brought 1,000 fans officially and probably more elsewhere.

          Gillingham 2016 was on a Saturday afternoon and Gillingham 2017 on a Tuesday night.

          These matches are not comparable.

          1. Hazarding a guess that no one forget that yesterdays FA cup game was on because it wasn’t well publicised. The point that still stands is that despite television – Dons fans still wanted to go and watch it (Slutton).

            last season, lowest league attendance, 4023. This season we’ve gone below that already in 5 of our 8 league games…

            4139 2017/18 average home attendance, spiked by (as ever) Plymouth and Pompey’s healthy contingent.

            4486 2016/17 average home attendance.

          2. One can find a stat for anything to support one’s argument if one looks hard enough and one’s belief in one’s own argument is strong enough, I do it myself all the time ;-).

            I don’t believe we are enough into the season to say for sure there is a decline in crowd numbers, (although another Plymouth-type debacle might tip crowd numbers irrevocably over the precipice).

            I was just pointing Malman’s original claim that compared to the Forest Green Rovers game it was said there were less home fans than the Lincoln game, whereas it was the same number of home fans, that’s all, nothing sinister, it just is what it is.

            I am going to Peterborough next Sunday and I am strangely looking forward to it, and strangely confident. Hopefully others feel the same, we get a sell out, get a win and it is the start of run plus no more tinkering by Raniardley with a winning, exciting team (please don’t laugh at the last bit, it could happen!).

  9. It’s been shite, but he got Long and Forrester in on loan. The 3 defensive midfield amblers hasn’t worked out and was/is a mistake, but I think that’s more down to them than him. He’s a safety first cnut, and it’s been dross. Plymouth should haunt him, but if it’s 0-0, 0-0, 1-0, til the end of the season, then job fucking done. And then tomorrow’s another day. Up for the cup.

  10. The sole reason I stayed away yesterday was the poor entertainment factor.

    Nothing at all to do with it being the 1st round of the cup.

    Not prepared to fork at the £24 ticket price to be throughly bored again for 90 plus minutes.

    1. Is that £24 for main stand? I hate to tell you but the tickets in the Chemflow were only £15 and it was an entertaining game (admittedly unexpectedly).

  11. Silk – apologies for the delay in replying I went down to Leatherhead for their cup game.

    Egan has been a casualty of Hartigans progress and the fact that Neal has turned to his experienced pros in midfield to get us through a difficult period. Personally I would like to see Hartigan used more regularly in front of 2 of the defensive midfielders (for Plymouth type fixtures) but I can’t see where Egan is going to get game time.

    He needs regular starts at a good level to further his development and I think finding that opportunity locally means the club are looking after him very well.

    Your post supports the point I was making about the board having tough decisions to take at the end of the season in trying to maintain our league 1 status and keep the fans happy. I doubt you are alone in wanting to see the club prioritise youth development (by sacrificing results/league position) but for others league 1 status is equally important.

    If we started Egan instead of Trotter now our chances of relegation increase and we need to do everything we can between here and NPL to remain a league 1 club. At this level we are better positioned to generate maximum income from deals like the naming rights to the new stadium.

    In the mean time Nightingale is a regular starter when he’s fit as is Egli Kaja. I’m sure Hartigan will get more opportunities and if Alfie does well on loan his time may come. I think the academy had a target of something like 20 – 25% of the first team being youth products and we’re not far off that.

  12. STTA – great to read a well balanced report. Season has been a disappointment so far but agreed talk of a crisis IMHO is well over the top at this stage. Also glad to see some people have made some well thought out comments about the crowds. Yes, Lincoln brought good numbers but I was pleasantly surprised how many Dons turned up yesterday. Forest Green and Bury has been mentioned above and I recall we got sub 2,000 for York in the Cup a few years back. Off the back of good turn outs against Rotherham and Plymouth and over 500 at Northampton it is hard to see who is voting with their feet apart from a few very disillusioned WUPPERS! Crowds will drop a bit if we continue to struggle and agree Neal would be well served by ‘going for it’ a bit more, but nothing a few goals (I live in hope!) won’t sort.

  13. No YW post when we win except to agree with a critical post of NA, typical…..

    My main criticism of NA is his “too clever by half” attitude and Plymouth was for ne and many a nail in his coffin as a manager. It just defied belief and showed a manager out of touch and deluded.

    I also deplore his lack of faith in the youth. He toys with them, gives them a chance and then puts them away for months. When will Egan ever be ready if he can’t get a game now? And why buy three defence OAP midfielders who stifle the opportunities. I’m sick of giving NA the benefit of the doubt with this but I guess we should judge him by season end but my bet is Egan will join the queue of other players who have had their development stifled by NA and his ultra cautiousness. Hartigan needs to play at least 20 games this season, I bet he is lucky to get 10. I get that many players don’t make it but surely when you have a 100% keeper like him you pick and stick.

    If NA came out and said something like “Hartigan is young and he’ll make mistakes but I’m going to pick him regardless, and I hope the supporters understand that when he makes the odd blooper early on” then we’d respect him. Instead we get this “mother know best” crap about how how to manage young kids, well I bet they hate they way he is too scared to play them and makes them rot in the twos unless he has no other option but to play them.

    Most managers reach a use by date and NA has probably reached his. Doesn’t mean e hasn’t done a good job before but I think we will be very lucky to stay in L1.

    Anyway a win is a win

  14. Over five years now NA has been manager and not one player has become a regular senior player from a youth team that regularly does well against teams in higher divisions at youth level.

    Not one player has he been prepared to pick and stick with. Not one he has been prepared to stick with and accept a leaning curve on the job.

    It’s a damning statistic and one that should see him moved on at season end if it continues.

    He makes the academy a waste of time and money

    1. The Academy kids do show up the first team a lot of the time with its application and will to win, amongst other things.

      Perhaps that’s the problem…

    2. It is Ardley’s most damning accusation but it’s not true that “not one” youth player has become a regular in the first team. I can think off of the top of my head, Will Nightingale, although he has only not been playing the last couple of games because of injury.

      It is, however, correct to point out Ardley’s lack of trust in the youth as I have done for a large part of the last five years.

      I remember Ardley standing up at a WAWF meeting 3-4 years ago and openly saying he did not trust the youth players. That turned out to be an prescient statement.

    3. It would be more damning if the youth moved on and prospered elsewhere at League 1 or higher level but I can’t think of examples of that. Now maybe their temperament and enthusiasm is permanently damaged by the way they are treated but then would they have made it if that is the case?

      I’d like to see the youth played more, just because I think they’d put in a better shift than one or two of their older colleagues but we don’t seem to have lost many great players from the academy.

  15. Hong Kong, look around you. Gaps in the crowd that didn’t exist. Backed up by a factual 10% drop in attendances.
    No need for waffle.

    1. Fair enough Malman, are right about the 400 average drop in league attendances. It is a concern, if it continues, it will be a major concern. I reckon Posh next Sunday will be a bellwether for the season’s attendances.

      Look around? I’m in the middle of the Chemflow surrounded by a lots of very large drunk people (including myself) so I can’t see very much. This helps with dealing with the football too 😉

  16. Rob – that was a very determined performance yesterday, we may look back on Plymouth as the even that gave us that will to win.

    I’m not a fan of the little dodgy huddles normally (its all a bit American fooballish) but the post-game one was interesting. Management and players included, we haven’t seen that before.

    I think something has changed. It hasn’t come about from anything good, it’s not quite a siege mentality but there is an element of we’re in this together, fuck you lot.

    1. Interesting, though I have seen a team do it before (think it was a final in a non-league game where the team that lost in the last minute did it).

      Show of strength/unity? Maybe, though they look shit when you lose.

  17. Surely Trotter being injured is a plus point. Got to say continuing to play three defensive midfielders has to stop. What on earth has Hartigan done wrong? He has looked class whenever he has played but don’t expect Ardley to play him again until later in the season when it will probably be too late. All change on the manager front as I want to start enjoying my football again.

  18. I guess it is possible NA will drag us out of this malaise but I’m afraid the best I can see is some judicious spending in January keeping us up.

    For mine we are seeing a management regime I’m it’s deathroes. And not just the results, the body language and cantankerous nature that now seems the norm. Stubborn with bloody minded arrogance to boot. Not a good combo.

    It’s important as a club we aren’t knee jerk so I’m still in support of the clubs loyalty to NA. And I agree from a practical POV from windelsham that I’d prefer funds to go towards players in January and not a payout. And I also maintain all the clubs energy is tied up in NPL just till the s106 gets signed.

    Having said that a horror run over the next 8 weeks could force their hand and doesn’t 8 weeks seem like a long time right now.

    As for next year…if we go down NA is gone, no question. If he drags us up to a top 16 finish is suspect he is very safe. It will be what the FCB does if we finish 17-20 that will be interesting. My gut says NA will make that decision for them but for mine it will be time for change

  19. Well balanced report from STTA. A win soothes people a bit even if it’s just an FA Cup game.

    Having been one who would’ve got rid of Ardley awhile back, the lack of developing youth is one of the major part of my frustrations. If we were playing 5/6 youngsters this season to develop them & push the club on I wouldn’t mind so much but Ardley always cans the youngsters after a few games & no one’s made a real breakthrough other than Nightingale.

    I’ve been thinking back to the summer when Ardley recruited lots of players who’d been at the club before. Looking back, did Ardley no longer have the energy or drive to convince new players to come & play for us? If that’s the case he just gave up & tried to get “safe” players who’d been with us before who he didn’t have to work hard at selling the AFCW dream. In looking back that was a bad sign of a manager running out of steam?

    I’m resigned to the fact we aren’t going to be changing managers soon but had we gone down that route it may have benefitted us in the long term for 2 reasons. Firstly we get in a manager who genuinely wants to play & develop youngsters rather than loaning them out wherever possible. Secondly, we get a manager with a new contact book that hasn’t been exhausted and who can change the way we play & get better players in to do so.

    As a club we aren’t going to go down that road unless we lose the next 10 games but for me there was a rational logic to moving our manager on. I just hope he at least keeps us in this division this season & hopefully a good cup run will boost morale & club coffers if nothing more.

    1. Agree. We could be so much more than a retirement home for Ardley’s Millwall mates/Cardiff+Gillingham old boys club.

      Ardley has one of the safest jobs in English football but where’s the vision for player development?

      If we go down and he leaves in the summer, I’m not seeing much of a legacy after six years in charge.

      1. I think that’s a bit harsh re lack of legacy. It’s ironic given his almost fear of playing youngsters but I think the Academy and back office has really been brought up to scratch by NA and his team. We just need a manager who will play the kids.

        As far as NA is concerned the kids are never ready. Well how can they be if they have a manager too scared to play them. If you don’t trust them just don’t gibe them a senior squad spot but if they are then give them a chance. I’ll reserve final judgement until we see how much senior football Hartigan gets. Will he has the excuse of injuries but this kid simply must be given 20 + games this year.

        As for being safe, I think he is pretty safe to be given the chance to turn things around but I would not be so sure come season end once the s106 is sorted.

  20. Talk of getting rid of the manager is crazy. It is quite simple, we need a decent third round fa cup draw to pay for another striker in January.

    1. That is why we have been terrible since Jan 2017 then? All because this one striker NA will get this Jan …right , you tell yourself that.
      Not sure if you have looked at the league table? the goals for column ? or maybe the results in 2017….. most clubs would have sacked NA by now, he is lucky. Sacking him is not crazy by far.

  21. Quite a lot ‘semi’ positive though KD. Think the no. of comments shows more the depth of support for the club and that the fanbase are pretty split on this one. With regard to NA’s legacy and what happens at the end of the season have to say I am with Paul on both those points.

  22. A match report should be exactly that – a report on the match. A few here, and on other sites seem to have other opinions as to what happened for 80 odd minutes Saturday. If a reporter is going to slant their opinions and pad them out with personal anecdotes then, IMO, they leaver themselves open to criticism.
    The idea that 0-0 becoming 1-0 or staying 0-0 has been put over time and again. That argument might very well find favour with some Dons’ Fans if the end justified the means. 0-0 has time and time again become 0-1 because Ardley has used tactics that have not worked. FFS, this has been going on for 7 months now and Saturday was the exception rather than the rule and was a one-off Cup match in any case.
    Ardley’s tactics relative to the 0-0 syndrome have patently not worked, cause ill feeling between the Fans and have lost the Club money where those pissed off with it have stayed away.
    If the team’s results had reflected even four or five extra wins, I might have given him and his followers the benefit of the doubt. The actual stats that Ardley loves to quote actually show that his safety first tactics have hardly ever worked, are still not working and are not likely to work long term.
    Many will, and have, forgiven him for the Lincoln game because a win plus another in the next round could get the Club some more money. I hope it does happen because, like any true Dons’ Fan, I want them to flourish but not at the expense of some entertainment, and certainly not with the 3 Tremors in midfield.

    1. “A match report should be exactly that – a report on the match. A few here, and on other sites seem to have other opinions as to what happened for 80 odd minutes Saturday. If a reporter is going to slant their opinions and pad them out with personal anecdotes then, IMO, they leaver themselves open to criticism.”

      I’ve clearly been doing this wrong since 1999.

  23. I’ll just add that on the point of leaving ourselves open to criticism if anyone thinks REPD or I give one solitary fuck about that clearly don’t know us very well.

    I might attempt to not mention the match at all in my next update 🙂

  24. Hi all,

    I agree that NA is too afraid to give the academy players an extended run of games due to safety precautions. I do not understand why he has to adopt such approach. All he needs to do is to field them in the starting line-up and they will deliver the results in due course. That is one of the reasons why we has yet to see an academy graduate establishing the first team place on a permanent basis. Will Nightingale appears to be doing so. However, he was not featured in the past few games. It was mentioned that his absence was due to injuries. Let’s see whether he will be back in the first team when he recovers from the injuries.

    My take is that NA might be too protective of his players in fear of injuries. I feel that the more the manager exerts more cautions, the more prone the players will be due to the injuries. I think that it will be fruitful to give the young players the first team opportunities and they will become better players. However, I do not see it coming under NA’s tenure. It is very disappointing to see the current crop of academy graduates who are not fully groomed to their full potential with NA in charge of the team. I think that NA is too conservative in his approach and such approach will lead to the downfall of the club in league standings.

    As mentioned before, it is unlikely that the club management will axe NA this season regardless of the outcome of this season. This is likely to be due to financial aspect of the club. There will be cost incurred if the decision is to axe NA and his coaching team to be taken by the club management. There will also be cost incurred for his replacement. This additional cost will be on top of the current catered budget. As such, such additional cost will be taken from next season’s budget which is determined by the league the club will be plying depending on the outcome of this season. If the club is relegated to League Two with the replacement taking in the midst of this season, it will be an uphill task to mount a serious promotion challenge back to League One. I believe that the club management is hoping that NA can secure a successful League One relegation battle this season. This will enable the club to be better equipped for the next season of continued League One football.

    I believe that the club management must be in a serious dilemma on whether to sack NA. If they decide to go for the axe, who will be the ideal replacement to steer the club from the relegation trapdoor? It will be a big decision for the club.


    1. Exeter gave Ethan Ampadu his debut at 15. At 17, he’s now keeping David Luiz out of the Chelsea squad. Just sayin’

    2. Hi Ben

      I agree with you re this.

      Kentish Don posted a link to Exeter and Tisdale on the other site and it made interesting reading.

      There were two aspects of the article that struck me.

      The first was that the current situation at Exeter, where there is a veritable pipeline of talent now, took 10 years to come to fruition. So perhaps we are being a bit too ambitious to be where they are now but I suspect we are well short of where they were on their youth journey about three or four years ago as I’m using us joining the FL as the time we started to get serious re youth.

      The second was that Tisdale in the article was adamant that the players had to firmly believe they would get opportunities to choose that club over others. It’s the club’s side of the bargain really. And it has to deliver in words not actions. So, when NA fields the three OAPs every week instead of Hartigan he is sending a powerful message.

      And Tisdale clearly isn’t a soft touch who gives games away to kids but clearly when he makes the decision that a player has the potential he will back him to the hilt. He mentioned they started bring through one player a year and now they are getting about three graduates staking their claim. That growth takes time.

      I don’t expect NA to lose his job by giving games away to kids that are not good enough. But the reality is that if you don’t get an opportunity then you’ll never be good enough. His cautious approach is self defeating. I’d prefer him to take ONE of Hartigan, Rgan and Kaja and back him to the hilt this year and START him for 20-25 games, Christ knows they can’t be any worse than the three stooges. Will I get is playing behind a good CB pairing of Deji and Darius but he should always be third choice and if so he’ll get plenty of games.

      And if they are not good enough then let them go.

      I think the criticism of NA is justified but he still has time to turn it around. Personally I think if he keeps us up it will be a good time for him to say “I’m cooked, I need a break before my next challenge” and also a good time for new ideas at the club. And that’s no disgrace – it’s a tough game in management and most managers find their message gets a bit tired after a while. He has outlasted all but a minority of his peers since when he was appointed and his record is, whilst not outstanding, a good one. I’d go for a similar young up and coming manager but the area of youth development at the senior level would be a big factor.

      And god don’t we need that s106 announcement to lift the spirits, I cannot believe we may not get it before Xmas, I really do think that it will be 2020/21 opening now

  25. As a long-term AFC fan, I’m just happy I support this club rather than, say, Luton – still trying to climb up the league. Haven’t we done well?

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