So much for the “must not lose” status of Northampton, where we managed to do exactly that. I’ve no idea if it was any worse than Bury, but it sure as hell wasn’t an improvement…
They say that a week is a long time in politics, and this has been a very long eight days for AFCW. Before Rotherham – a week ago last Friday, lest we forget – we were still buzzing over stuffing Bradford 4-0.
Everything was starting to look rosy. A few (naive) souls were talking about now being safe, and a few (quite frankly idiotic) individuals were even talking about playoffs. Hell, even our manager was up for a Manager of the Month award.
Fast forward to today, and it’s a bit like that 1980s drama Threads, after the bomb got dropped.
I guess that January was a false month with #fakeresults after all. The veneer has been stripped away, and it’s left a lot of unpleasantness again.
To play badly once in a week, especially against a struggling side, is one thing. To do it again a few days later is another. But there’s something more concerning about this blip of form that maybe isn’t such a blip after all.
OK, one could argue there’s a bit of over-reaction/knee jerkism within the last twenty four hours. We do still have four games left this month after all.
And while I’d be more than happy to wake up one morning and find out our current manager has moved on, I don’t expect to read that at any point for the rest of this campaign. Not unless things become really untenable, that is.
But the comment from NA last night that “we need to come up with some solutions and we need to do it fast” is a bit disconcerting to hear. It’s practically an admission that nobody quite knows what to do.
The obvious answer to that is whatever we were doing in January (and were starting to do before that). But what’s become clear is how fragile the confidence is, and how quickly it’s fallen.
Too quickly, perhaps.
Just like Bury, there was apparently no bawling out of the players. Perhaps there should be? Or maybe that’s been tried and it just doesn’t work any more…
The good news right now is that we’ve got Plymouth on Tuesday. The bad news right now is that we’ve got Plymouth on Tuesday. Another loss down there, especially a poor one, and then it becomes a proper crisis.
Your editor will be going to the beamback for that, as I can’t justify spending £100+ for the second time in a week. Especially following this rabble.
A win (or even a draw) will soothe things, although it won’t do much more than paper over the cracks. And I say that because you don’t have a week like this without something underlying being wrong.
Think about it – two games where we went behind, equalised and then just did nothing. Even when we went behind again. That doesn’t suggest a squad with character, or a will to win that is needed more than ever.
That’s been the case since, well, January 2017 (give or take a few purple patches here and there), and the reserves of goodwill have been sucked dry. That partly explains the post game reaction, and that is never going to be far below the surface now.
But one wonders if something fundamental happened this week, that may last until the summer months. I could be wrong, but this feels different to even previous shitstorms this campaign.
Maybe it’s because the transfer window closed with practically little action, and there’s now no going back this season. Maybe because it’s the business end of the season, where results mean everything and the threat of relegation becomes more than an abstract concept.
We now have fifteen games left this season. Not thirty. And those remaining games can pass quite quickly.
It’s not quite the time to panic yet, but people are definitely getting uneasy and nervous. There’s certainly a lot of soul searching, especially what we will need to do during the summer – a close season that may be the most “interesting” for some time.
Or as somebody elsewhere put it memorably this morning, it’s not just NPL that needs the bulldozers in…