Fourplay

When somebody said it was 4-0 at Valley Parade, I thought they meant Poleon had scored a hat-trick…

There’s always a game or two a season where the result was so unexpected, that it takes a good while for your jaw to get picked up off the floor. Last season, it was Scunthorpe away, and Bradford might be this season’s equivalent.

My reaction today is like the one on March 1st 2017 – bloody hell, who saw that coming…?

OK, like Blackpool and Southend before them, Bradford are on an uber-shit run of form, and at the very least we are doing what we are supposed to be doing against struggling sides right now.

Even so, there was just that little bit of pre-game apprehension. Especially given Poleon’s pre-game comments which you can read in any way you like.

But we’ve now gone four games without conceding. And this new-fangled thing called “attacking football”, with – gasp – round pegs in round holes.

It will never catch on.

OK, enough snark. We won 4-0 away from home, after all. And deservedly so, by every single account. Remember when we went up to Valley Parade for the first time as AFCW? Now, it almost seems routine.

Your editor looked at the goals, and what stood out was that seemed a bit of strength to all of them. Watch our third strike in particular to see what I mean. But then, I think we’re a lot better off playing this way and having a go at (more often than not) lousy defences.

True, things might have been different if Poleon’s goal had been allowed, and we still appear to have a major psychological issue whenever we go behind in a game.

But I do think we’re now finding the level we should be at. Us struggling in the relegation places still feels like a self-inflicted wound (dare I say “underachieving”?), and the fact Gillingham and Plymouth have gone inwards and upwards says a lot about what much of L1 really is.

We’d be over-achieving if we were in the top six, or to a lesser extent the top ten**, but even this campaign’s issues notwithstanding, being between 12th and 17th is something you should expect most seasons as par.

** – this is certainly the case all the while we’re at KM, although once we’re back at NPL I think we should be looking in the mid term to be in the Championship. From what I’ve seen of L1 and especially the second tier over the years, I do believe with the right upgrades to the club, this is an achievable aim. It won’t happen overnight, though.

It does help when there’s the first sign that our scouting/recruitment has discovered lower divisions with the signing of Pigott. We’ll need to beef up our knowledge of L2/non-league in future transfer windows anyway, and basically do exactly what WFC did for all those years.

Which is why news that NA is targeting another striker is intriguing to hear. A non-league starlet? A loanee from a Championship/Premier League side? A has-been who needs paying in Complan and colostomy bags?

And yes, SW19 did suggest earlier this month that if another forward becomes available we should swoop for him…

There could be another reason for this, rather than just adding to the forward line. The rumour mill is suggesting that Taylor could be on his way out at the end of the season.

How true that is remains to be seen, but that would not be a surprise if so. His contract is up, and he’s at the peak of his career at the moment. Like Tom Elliott, he will never have a better chance to make a move that will improve his bank balance.

Him going in the summer isn’t the issue – nobody at a football club is irreplaceable after all, except the ordinary fan who walks through the turnstile. Although needless to say, it will put more onus on our scouting and recruitment for his ultimate replacement.

The question is if AFCW suddenly gets a tempting offer of cold hard cash before the window shuts. The attractiveness of receiving some money for a player who will leave gratis in the close season might be too irresistible.

Even if we’re nowhere near safe yet.

I don’t know if Taylor has a break fee in his contract, but if there is one and it’s met by somebody who needs a striker quickly, then there’s practically little we can do to keep him.

Who would come in for him at this late stage? The answer is, in football you never know what’s going to pop up at this stage of the transfer window. Desperation may set in, or a player departing who may leave a team short.

Lasse Vibe at Brentford is a good example of that. And I’m already starting the Taylor to Griffin Park rumour, along with a 10% “consultancy fee” for any money paid to us.

Anyone with half an eye on him throughout the season may want to wait until the summer, when they can get him without paying us a penny. Would suck for us, but welcome to the world of professional football.

This does beg another question – can we, or should we, be committing players to longer term deals? I assume Taylor was signed to two years, and I would guess most if not all of our players are on likewise.

It has as many pros and cons. On the one hand, you don’t get lumbered with a Barnett-esque dud for too long, draining the wages. On the other, we’re more susceptible to losing our best players for nothing – if Taylor does go after May 5th, it will be the second top striker in two years who departs without us getting a bean.

Oh, and Taylor didn’t score yesterday…