We’ve had nicer weekends…
I wasn’t going to do an update until after tonight’s beamback (yep, keeping my money in my pocket rather than head down to the West Country tonight), but Neil Cox’s update yesterday was eyebrow raising.
To put it mildly.
No, the biggest shock wasn’t finding out Appiah still isn’t fit, but the acknowledgement – no, admission – that the post-game “chat” after Northampton wasn’t enough after all.
Saturday has lingered a bit longer than other defeats, as though it touched a nerve again. Some bad defeats, you tend to forget by Sunday, or even a few hours after the whistle, but this one definitely felt different.
And rather than the usual blandishments on an OS, we had one of the more intriguing interviews for a little while.
OK, the supporter side of me thinks it’s good to at least find out there’s been more than a chat, and it might be better in this instance to admit publicly there’s a problem. That said, the professional side of me thinks it is a bit like airing your dirty linen in public. And it was a bit startling to read that:
“After the game on Saturday there was a fantastic response, but there have also been telephone calls that the staff have received from the players, just to talk about one or two things that they wanted to get off their chests.
It’s not going to quell speculation as to why this has happened, although it does confirm that something is up.
True, teams struggling down the bottom will always be less of a happy family than those up the top. I doubt if the “exchange of views” after the game was even the only one in League One on Saturday evening.
You have young men who have competitive natures at the best of times, with egos to match, and a lot of testosterone to get rid of. Rows happen. And there have been trophy winning sides where two of the main strikers weren’t on speaking terms.
But the whole phone call thing clearly suggests it’s deeper than frustration. As said by SW19 on Sunday, you don’t go from the January we’ve had to the February we’re having without some underlying problem.
We’ll never know who made them, to whom, how many did so, or indeed what the issue was about. Or issues. And if you did ask, you probably wouldn’t get told anything near to the truth.
A couple have speculated something about contract re-negotiations, although would that be enough in itself? Then again, we are dealing with money and future employment prospects, and that wouldn’t be unknown in football.
Management versus players? Maybe, we’ve gone through this sort of thing this season already (think before Brizzle Rovers) and it does happen a bit too often under NA since he’s been here.
Something else entirely? We can but make idle suggestions, which may not be helpful to anyone, and is why mentioning this isn’t perhaps a good idea after all.
The next time we have a poor performance, you’ll now be wondering if the AFCW equivalent of phoning the Samaritans will be following.
Whatever has gone on, it’s not the best backdrop to Plymouth tonight. A game where there’s so little expectation, and oddly is a game we might get something out of after all.
The air should be clearer on the team bus today, and there might be an all-round agreement just to get through what remains of this season and stay up. Contracts and careers are likely up in the summer as it is, so probably best not to kill each other beforehand.
Plus, I’d imagine we would have a point to prove anyway, if only because of the aforementioned egos. I don’t believe any player wants a relegation on their CV, especially as a couple of them might struggle to get another L1 side in the summer.
And if there’s some poison to be removed, best to do it while there’s still just under two months, rather than let it fester. Playing tonight might be of benefit, as we don’t have a week to let things simmer.
Though if there’s a story that at least one body with an AFCW tracksuit on has been discovered tomorrow morning, it might not have entirely worked…