Back to the grindstone

Doesn’t seem like I’ve missed much…

Anyway, SW19 is back (no more long absences planned until the end of the season), although it’s up to you to figure out whether I’m raring to go or not 😉

The big news from the previous fortnight is that we have a new player – a striker, no less. Welcome (belatedly) to AFCW, Joe Piggot. An interesting addition, because we’ve paid his get-out clause of £25k and he’s from lower leagues.

A “traditional” Wimbledon signing, if you will.

Thoughts? Firstly, this is what we should have done six months ago, and if we could have got a big target-man up front now, then there was definitely no excuse back in August when there were more Piggots about.

I genuinely believe had we got one then, we’d be comfortably mid-table at this stage. But then, a stubborn, almost disdainful approach to tactics until about October has also played a large part in where we are right now.

Or to put it another way – the headline should be Pig Headed.

I’ll never understand why NA attempted (and failed) to be too clever** this close season, just as I’ll never comprehend why he didn’t do what he did in previous years and at least have somebody different like Piggot as fourth choice on the bench.

Stung by the whole Tyrone Barnett thing? Perhaps, but that was no reason in failing to act. Especially as Appiah is unsurprisingly turning into a sick note and we could have got somebody in from a lower division.

** – as an aside, while I was in uptown NYC on Sunday, I got shown a picture of the tactics board from the Shrewsbury game (thanks, Keano), and it all seemed very un-necessarily complicated. Which probably explained why we played utter shite that day – the players probably didn’t understand what they had to do…

Anyway, those who called for us to play Taylor in the middle and to get a big bloke in reserve (as far back as August) have been vindicated, and now there’s no excuse to get relegated. This division isn’t that good.

Is Piggot the right man? He has to be. There’s a lot of expectation on him, especially as he’s dropped down from the FL to play in non-league. He’s likely to be on the bench against Blackpool tomorrow, as I expect he’ll be for a lot of games.

When he does come on, he’ll need to be effective. A bit like Nathan Elder was in the Mansfield game, before he regressed into being the new Drewe Broughton. Come to think of it, he scored on his debut as well, didn’t he?

So maybe if Piggot finds the net tomorrow, we shouldn’t cheer too much…

Do we need another striker before the transfer window shuts? Perhaps, and if one suddenly became available, we should pounce. As said earlier, we can’t rely on Appiah this season, and if truth be told we should probably cut our losses on him when we can.

Will that be Carlton Cole? NA doesn’t seem so sure, in terms of the fitness thing. There’s always the danger of Cole being the next Euell/Grazioli, namely a big name who has come to us for a very good reason – and not one for footballing purposes.

That said, we need a strikers coach…

Anyone else to come in? Our full backs could end up costing us games, so even somebody on loan to fill in/replace Fuller wouldn’t be a bad move. Plus, of course, anyone else you can think of.

One thing is clear though, even if nothing else changes at the club we’ll need to seriously upgrade our scouting and recruitment from now on. We’ll need a proper working knowledge of L2 and even non-league players, as well as those dropping down.

Anyone who can make that step up will be in demand, so instead of moping and whinging about how small our budget is, we’ll have to be able to turn heads and make AFCW a legitimate first choice for many.

Many lessons from this season so far have to be learned, and that’s one of them. It’s not too late to salvage this campaign, far from it, but we’ve got a lot of work to do in the summer.

Anyway, the Franchise circus came and went almost without anyone noticing. A point is a point, though if Barcham had scored….

Franchise fans were doing what they did best, by not turning up for a game they were treating as their biggest of the season. Quelle surprise. Ditto the odd report of lone AFCW fans getting targeted by groups of Green Street wannabes.

In hoolie circles, apparently, those kind of tactics are considered the most shithouse of the lot, which is exactly why they do it. Why that game up there is not a “bubble” match I don’t know, unless you genuinely think that Franchise deliberately want a) AFCW fans to get hurt, and/or b) fight back so they can go running off squealing to the authorities again.

Yeah, I know.

Speaking of them, it seems that Martin Samuel got briefed earlier this week, which makes a mockery of what the EFL has charged us with. If it had been us saying that we’d comply with the new rules and reneging on them, or the programme, then we’d get a slap on the wrist, small fine and a reminder of our responsibilities.

Petty I know, but we have to move on at some point.

But getting in trouble because we’re not using their name in internal emails? Our directors not using Frenzydome hospitality? That just goes beyond pettiness and into the kind of thing you would expect from an anti-NPL NIMBY.

I don’t know when the hearing takes place, but you can bet Jim Sturman QC is already rubbing his hands, delving into everything and going “right, let’s see…”. While I doubt we’ll come away with nothing against us, this might be one of those times the EFL wishes they had just left the whole thing alone.

Finally, and not anything to do with AFCW (at least directly), I see that Kingstonian are at Corinthian Casuals from next season. You remember, Kingstonian – the ones who blame us for their problems when we were still WFC.

Anyway, they’re moving away from Levvred, which was a bit of a stupid move whichever way you look at it. King George’s Field is much more sensible, and obviously Casuals are noble enough to do 100% of the pitch repairs and maintenance.

Maybe that’s why Chelski told Ks to sling their hook? We told them how little effort they put into maintaining their own ground, and they have much more clout and far less scruples than we have.

I mention this because at least we’ll have some idea what will happen to the £1m they received. We’ve been to Casuals a couple of times in recent years, and it wouldn’t be a bad place if they rebuilt their main stand.

Them remaining there permanently wouldn’t be the worst thing for them, it’s not much more difficult to get to than Norbiton and it’s much more the size they need. They have money in their back pocket too for a ground as well.

Needless to say, there are plenty of AFCW fans who would have given them £0,  and I doubt if they’ll be able to ever build at Chessington. Let alone look after it. So Casuals is as good a place as any for them.

The relationship between us and Ks could (and perhaps should) have been better, but it didn’t work out. But apart from the obvious one, I don’t really like to see any club go under.

That said, Kingstonian – or more accurately, their fans – were their own worst enemies in that regard. Spreading muck about us that we’d stiffed them, which to this day we still have to firefight, still rankles a lot.

We bent over backwards for them, tried to do the right thing etc, and we still get it slung back in our face. It might only be a few dozen doing that, but when you get crowds of 300 or so, that’s a pretty high percentage.

And very few clubs in their division would have a seven figure sum given to them as severance pay.

Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out in a decade or so that they end up merging with Casuals. Non-league football is like that, after all. But you can bet that whatever happens, we’ll still get the blame for it…