Sky Blue Thinking

Second game already…

To be fair, it’s been a decent enough week in the AFCW world. A good performance and a win greatly affecting the all round mood. Funny, that.

While people aren’t getting carried away, and the giddyometer is still having WD40 sprayed over it, we are going into Coventry tomorrow with just a little bit of expectation and confidence.

Mind you, we drew against Scunny in the first game of last season, played against Shrewsbury (I think – can’t be bothered to check) and that ended up setting the tone for the rest of the season. So your future happiness is not guaranteed.

What we don’t have to deal with is another player coming in (or out) of the squad. Yep, the permanent transfer window shut at 5pm yesterday, and as expected nobody signed. Whether something fell through at the last minute or not, we’ll never properly know, although the #10 is still vacated…

Getting another loanee in was always more likely, and that’s what’s going to happen now. We do still have between now and the end of the month, so don’t keep refreshing the OS too much.

That’s not to stop anyone leaving, of course. It seems that we turned down an approach for Deji, presumably from Ipswich, and that’s going to be another reality check for many people.

Firstly, if our players are any good, they’re likely to be looked at. It’s only been the case in the last couple of years (Elliott, Reeves, Taylor), because before then none of our squad were likely to move upwards.

Whether you think they’re capable of playing at a higher level is another matter, some seemed genuinely surprised that our former striker went to Charlton instead of a Championship side.

But the likes of Deji will always be closely scrutinised and vulnerable to a bid from now on. It’s a fact of footballing life, one we have to adapt to – especially when it comes to replacing them.

Secondly, we’re pretty much easy pickings for clubs with more money. I’ve no idea how many of our players are on 3-year deals as opposed to 2-year ones, not (m)any I’d guess.

Deji is probably on the latter, which means if we want to cash in on him we’ll have to probably arrange something this month – leave it until January and he’ll probably stay to let his contract run out.

Or we let him go for far less.

If we want to get better transfer deals on our players, then we have to sign more up on 3-year deals. Which is a double edged sword, because if Tyrone Barnett was on one, he’d still be here. That will tie up a limited budget** even more than it already is.

** – as an aside, will this season be the start of a gradual attitude shift over the self-imposed restrictions for raising funds?

Ideology always comes off second best to reality anyway, but especially so over finance. And it’s clear we now have to spend more than ever before just to keep on the treadmill…

So we basically have to expect a high turnover of players for the foreseeable, and not expect too much compensation until we change our approach. Although given some duds we’ve signed in recent seasons, maybe it’s just as well we do it this way.

As for Deji himself, I wouldn’t blame him for wanting to go to Portman Road if that’s still on the table. AFCW is simply his current employer, nothing more, and football careers are short…

Hopefully he won’t be distracted for tomorrow. Speaking of which, your editor is spying at Luton v Sunderland, so I won’t get to see whether Fleetwood was just a once-off or something more fundamental.

I also won’t get to test the new ticket reading machines too.

I got my ST in the post this week, and to be fair the new card looks quite nice. One for the AFCW idea bank though – next season, would it cost much to issue them in a card holder?

Apparently, the club does sell Oyster card holders in the shop, so it might be a decent little money-spinner if they advertised that fact…

The accompanying blurb is next to me, and it’s the standard stuff of getting there early tomorrow, accept there may be teething issues and whatnot.

A mention of “simple expedient of letting us know when you can’t come to a game” is there, and yes – if the club wants to put restrictions on non-attendees it has to make it much more than just one email you forget about by Tuesday.

I’ve had just one this week, and I bet it will be all I receive.

The smart-card concept is a good one. Printed season ticket books look ever more archaic these days, and once everyone gets used to scanning it should move things a bit quicker.

Apparently they’re quite cheap too, and we’re now in an era where you can buy a chip-and-pin reader in Argos for £50. All right, you still need the computer and the software, but we’re not talking IBM mainframes any more either.

It should root out those who use concession tickets who aren’t supposed to. Yes, I know you shouldn’t, but there will always be people who want to buck the system. People aren’t always ethical.

I can’t wait to see the face of the first person who gets flagged up.

On the flip side, questions remain about how much they’ve really been tested. They weren’t in for any of the PSFs, which would have been a good time to do them – any other form of testing is no substitute for an actual match day.

Not just to see whether the technology works, but also how the matchday staff deal with it going wrong. It sounds like most of them discovered they were coming the same day as everyone else did, and there’d better be some crash-course training tomorrow morning.

No, I didn’t intend a pun there either.

The potential for it all going to shit tomorrow is unfortunately quite high – both with technology being what it is and humans being what they are. I hope it doesn’t, but we seem to have a tendency at the moment to rush things through too quickly.

Still, there was no excuse not to start bringing them in, especially with the new gaff on the horizon, and on the surface at least – it does look like we’ve entered 2018 on that score.

Just one thing though – who will be the first person to wave their Tesco Clubcard in front of the machine and complain they’ve not got their points scanned…?