Two points dropped

And at the business end of the season, that can be very damaging indeed…

It’s been one of the strangest few days at AFCW in quite some while, the build-up to yesterday will get mentioned in due course. For the game itself, I find myself with mixed emotions because it’s classic stuff from a relegation-threatened side.

It was good to hear that finally – finally – we’ve recognised we’re in a battle against the drop. Many have said that the first 15-20 minutes was the most enjoyable in some while. And yes, if it had been a couple more goals, today would have been different still.

But the old issues are never far away, and that’s why we’ve got a point rather than the three we needed. And if we were holding on at the end, it could have been even worse.

Not scoring again when the iron (no pun intended) was hot hurt us. But then, it’s been a big issue since January 2017, it has never been properly addressed for far too long, and if we’re in L2 next season it will have been a major reason for that.

But you knew that already.

To try and see the game out at 1-0 isn’t a good idea even when we’ve got Darius fit, as we’re simply not good enough to do that. Unsurprisingly, that’s what we did and even more unsurprisingly, we let the lead slip.

How many times has that happened since February? Three times now? And I haven’t included us equalising at Bury, only to then practically gift them the winner.

So yeah, we may have played the best in a little while, but it ended up putting us a step towards L2 again. Many a relegated club can point to games that they played well in, and yet didn’t get the three points.

After all, we could be Stoke City right now.

We have Charlton on Tuesday, and it’s the next one in the Biggest Game Of The Season™ series. Once again, a draw doesn’t really suit us, and if we lose…

We might have Piggot back, and Darius, and that will help a bit. We are down the wrong end of the table for a good reason, needless to say, and that will inevitably show up in the last six games at some point.

But we must minimise the mistakes now if we are to stand a chance of staying in this division. I know that’s stating the bleeding obvious, but sometimes with this club that’s what you need to do 😉

If we get another purple patch during a game, we must break the habit of the last eighteen months and simply go out to win 2-0 or 3-0 rather than just hang on for the single goal.

Should we go 1-0 down, we simply have to break the mentality that the game is lost. I’m struggling to think of the last time we came from behind to win a game in recent months, and that’s been another symptom of our current shit.

Basically, we need to take every approach we’ve done in the last season and dump it in the bin.

Will it happen? I dunno, but one thing has become clear this last few days – something has changed.

I know that the real threat of demotion focuses minds, but this feels more than just struggling on the field. After Fleetwood, where people answered back to the club in real life, I got the impression the dynamics of AFCW slightly changed forever.

And I don’t think that’s a hyperbolic statement to make either.

Look, when a club is in trouble, tempers and frustration boils over. That’s only natural. But I think the club was genuinely shocked at some of what happened on Good Friday, and the way many started questioning more than the manager.

NA himself has definitely recognised that shift in his OS interview afterwards:

Whatever emotions you have got, or grieveances you have got, maybe with the situation or myself, for the good of the team you need to put them aside for six games.

That’s the first time I can recall a direct comment from him about what people view him as. He’s a professional football manager, and a player long before that, so unless he’s totally disingenuous he knows he’s the ultimate one to blame.

The whole “get behind the team” rallying call is pretty much standard stuff, indeed I’d be more concerned if there was more hand-sitting instead. Whether that can hold up for this final month remains to be seen, although one senses a bit of tension got released.

But then, yesterday’s reaction seemed to suggest a lot.

It all started with NA’s pre-game interview, which is something he’s rarely done in recent months (and while I know Slav and co like to rotate it to keep things more interesting, putting Cox out to do it almost every week always struck me as odd).

Where he looked, well, less than Churchillian.

Then, the Dons Trust tweeted this on Thursday evening. “Monitoring the situation” is the phrase that jumps out, and there may be an inference there.

The fiasco over announcing the PLC’s AGM had moved, then not moved and publicly backtracking may simply be innocent and down to poor comms. But at best it looked amateurish, and at worse it made AFCW look shifty.

After all, if Koppout or Wankerman had changed a time of an AGM to inconvenience shareholders…

The pre-game “rallying call” from our current CEO? To be honest, I think it could have been worded just a little better, as it came across as “don’t criticise the team after the game”. Never tell football fans how to react when they see shit on the field of play.

Also, there doesn’t seem to be that much criticism of players – not any more than anywhere else in the country. Not quite sure why that was brought up, especially as the players have if anything got quite a bit of sympathy this campaign.

Mind you, the “social media” comments did make Erik Samuelson unleash his inner Daily Telegraph reader. Watch to see if his next article starts blaming the EU or people under the age of 45…

Being in trouble exposes a lot of fault-lines in organisations, and ours is no different. The whole few days has felt like reading something out of the Non League Paper, rather than a club currently in the third tier of English football.

But then, things have festered. There’s definitely more criticism of the way the club – and certain people within it, including Mr Samuelson – carries out things this season than I can ever remember since 2002. Some of it from people I wouldn’t have expected.

For now, tempers seemed to have calmed down a little bit, and I think aiming everything towards the last few games of this wretched campaign helps. Putting things on hold until the summer is probably the best move at the moment, although we can’t then sweep issues under the carpet when it arrives.

We’re still in shit, in a lot of it as well, and it’s still very possible we’ll find ourselves in L2 next season. But I think we’ve decided not to kill each other just yet…