Rovers Return

Hey ho.

I suppose if there’s one takeaway from Sam Hammam 0 Jack Walker 3, it’s that last night didn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know.

We’re not good enough to play one up front (especially at home), going for 0-0 until late on just doesn’t work with the squad we’ve got, and there’s an all-round feebleness if things don’t go our way early on.

To be fair, we were OK enough until they scored with their first proper attack (and was it over the line? Tight, but it probably was), and it didn’t feel like we’d get back into it after that.

Put it this way. If you went to KM this morning and see some immobile objects covered in snow, they’re not snowmen – just some of our players from last night.

I safely assume nobody showed the players the video on yesterday’s SW19 update, as we looked a million miles away from that fateful night. I guess we must have shown some of the utterly crap matches we had with them in the later 1990s instead.

It doesn’t help when you can’t play Darius, and have to put in Robbo instead (and did he really get MOTM?). But we didn’t need to put a dent in our goal difference quite as much as we did.

If there is a positive from last night, it’s that we surely can’t be quite as ineffective for the rest of the season. The league table doesn’t look quite so promising this morning, especially as other teams have games in hand over us now.

One assumes that not every team will take advantage of that, and the much-of-a-muchness makeup of the division may well help us – it’s better for us if Bury (for example) do to others what they did to us.

Not only that, but we’ve got to play some fellow bottom feeders ourselves. It is still in our hands, even now.

Anyway, NA had a go at the players for the bit between their ears, although perhaps they were simply reacting to the formation their manager put out…?

Plus points: At least we got warm afterwards.

Minus points: 19h45 to 21h30.

The referee’s a…: Why oh why didn’t he call the game off beforehand? It was starting to get just a little bit frozen on top, and we could have had another go in March.

The lino got a bit of stick for the first goal, not just from the crowd but Robbo as well. TBH I don’t envy officials for something like that, they only get one chance to make a decision in real time, and VAR hasn’t reached L1 yet.

Them: Likely to go up, probably as champions, but I don’t think they were quite as good as Sheffield United were last season.

Still, Blackburn are another example of how mismanagement off the field can affect matters on it (something no club is immune from, of course). They should be in the Championship as a matter of course, after all.

Probably not one of their better games, but they did enough and had the ability to score and kill the game off.

Decent turnout from them, presumably they have a sizeable amount of supporters in t’south, and they didn’t seem the worst bunch of fans to ever step into KM. I wonder how much they liked the view?

Point to ponder: Was this the worst February we could have had? Seven games, five losses, one draw and a win that we only got in the 92nd minute. Not to mention the (misguided IMO) public airing of a staff/player “discussion” after the Northampton game.

Whether the issues that caused it are still lingering is anyone’s guess, and when you get a bad performance you do start to wonder if it’s just a poor day at the office.

But while it would be a bit too optimistic to state we could have been safe by now, we haven’t done ourselves any favours over the past month.

The good thing is that we’re still above the drop zone, just. We’ve also got through the worst of the fixture backlog, and barring injuries/tactical brainfarts there’s no reason not to play our best XI each game from now on.

Forget what is needed in the summer, the focus must now be on staying up – as said in a previous SW19 update, there’s no upside to getting relegated at all. Besides, we might get to play Sunderland and Birmingham City next season…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Was that the coldest AFCW-era game for some time? Probably not ever, because some of the fixtures in the backwaters were legitimately unhealthy to be at, temperature wise. 2) More room on the KM terraces than normal.

Anything else? Yep. I get the impression after a discussion last night that NPL will struggle to be open in time for the 2019/20 season – not unless the current carbuncle gets flattened within three months or so.

Sadly, my offer of matches/white spirit were politely declined, and something about “asbestos” was mentioned. It’s non-flammable, annoyingly.

The final detailed plan of the new stadium isn’t due anytime soon, either, although I think we’ve got six months before Galliard hand the site over to us.

Timeline wise, that makes things very tight – if you assume that it will take fourteen months to get to practical completion, and nothing goes wrong clearance/construction wise, that would make it ready by October 2019.

Which gives the club an almighty headache in deciding when to move.

Ideally, it will want to open in August, with the high profile friendlies, and the buildup to it. We could even move it to the end of that month, like Spurz are planning to do and like Liverpool did for their new stand.

It would be easier if it was going to be ready in March or April, because then you just work on it during the summer for the big opening.

October through to December/January clouds things though. The EFL** rules don’t state explicitly that there’s a cut-off point for moving during the season, although Brentford were apparently told that they couldn’t move to Lionel Road any later than February 2020.

** and yet another reason not to piss the EFL off too much. We might need their goodwill in the near future.

The Bees are now looking to move during the summer of that year anyway, so that’s not relevant. For us though, the logistics of moving mid-season become all too real.

If NPL is ready in October or November, or even up until January 2020, there’s no point in letting it stand idle for the rest of the season. We’ll lose out on increased gate receipts and hospitality for starters, not to mention the psychology of our new ground being ready but we can’t/won’t use it.

Being at KM is going to be shit enough for the next season or two as it is, without being there when we don’t need to be.

Not to mention Chelski probably won’t want us hanging around any longer than need be. Sure, we’ve got safeguards, but there’s more and more Chelski-related signage at KM as it is now, and you don’t need to be a genius to see what their real feelings are.

Groundsharing for a few games? It’s worth consideration. Before they moved back to the Valley, Charlton spent time at Upton Park and returned home in December 1992. So it’s not without precedence.

It may be too costly to go to Stamford Bridge, or Craven Cottage, or even Selhurst just for a few games, but if it isn’t I think we should definitely not dismiss the idea so readily.

Nobody is that loyal to an inadequate KM, you wouldn’t have the logistic challenges of moving season tickets from KM to NPL, and they might even let us sell a hospitality box or two. We’d cope, indeed we might even enjoy it. And it’s not like it’s going to be the 1991-2002 era all over again…

So, was it worth it? No.

In a nutshell: Sod the cold.