Oh dear. Again.
Luckily I wasn’t at Burton yesterday, as I think the journey back would have pissed me off more than it should have had.
When you start shite, go a goal down, miss yet another load of chances and then you get to the stage that you just can’t watch Jeff Stelling any more, because of the next update of doom – it’s a bad day.
There’s no dressing up of that. No spin is possible, unless you want to become all Pravda and sugar-coat it. Although to be fair, even the uber-sycophants haven’t been doing that this morning.
The question is, why? Especially as there was a bit of a good feeling about the game beforehand.
I hope that it was simply a bad day at the office. I also hope that it was a comedown from all the (ultimately fruitless) efforts against Sunderland and West Ham. We may simply need a rest and a regroup.
Which is why I hope we put out the weakest possible team for the Chuckaturd at Charlton. Never has a game ended up being so inconvenient – hell, your editor isn’t exactly planning to go to it.
But while we’ve undeniably been creating chances (and did so again yesterday, with the same end result), the stats unfortunately aren’t lying right now.
We’ve lost our last three league games, and the last four in all competitions. That’s not good, although two of them were against sides just relegated from the Championship.
Form is temporary. What is more permanent – and more worrying – is three goals in six games.
I know we’ve got to wait ten games, etc etc, but on this I think we can make a judgement call already. Our lack of firepower is going to cripple us this season unless something happens.
No, I don’t know what that “something” is. We did make that fourth striker signing before the loan window shuts. Welcome Jake Jervis, there’s not much expectancy on you to find the net.
He came on yesterday as the game was effectively over, and we do need him to start scoring. And there’s the problem – he’s already under pressure to do so.
We’re over-relying on Piggot to find the net for us, just as we’re over-relying on Pinnock to keep supplying him. Take one or both out of the equation, and we might not as well field any strikers anyway.
Hanson is still finding his feet, and yes he held the ball up well etc etc. Except he’s there to score goals for us. As for Appiah, I’ll be kind and suggest he’s playing with the view that just one more knock will likely put him out for the next six months.
The trouble is, so are we.
Yes, I know it just takes one goal in a game, and all that. Actually, it will take a run of a few games where we find the net, although we’re still only in September.
It’s not a new problem, of course. It’s been an issue even since the second part of the first L1 campaign, which hasn’t properly been solved since. We’ve lost Elliott and Taylor, and while we might have replaced the former with Piggot – we miss the latter’s goals more than ever.
Our strikers have been here a season at most, and three of the four have only joined this year. Yet they’re already starting to see their confidence ebb away, just like so many of our other forwards over the last couple of years.
That’s a fundamental problem right there. I’m sure you can think of reasons why very little has changed…
The good thing is, I suppose, is that we can no longer avoid dealing with it – it’s no longer “one of those things”. Yes, there’s now immense pressure to get a positive result at Gillingham, and at such an early stage of the season too.
We’ve increased the budget to get more strikers in, which we’ve now done. The style of play has changed** so we are creating more chances – which, to be fair, we even did yesterday apparently.
** – and one thing I’ve just thought of that worries me – I really hope our current manager doesn’t panic and revert to being Nil Ardley again. If you think he was crucified enough over it last season…
Excuses are running out, and while I accept this current strikeforce will never be the best in this division – it shouldn’t be so bad that you’re making the Golden Goal/”November” jokes already.
It will be a shame if a promising season is already getting derailed because of the constant low quality of our forward line, but it’s a conversation we need to have. And more importantly, act on.
Just like the last SW19 update, there’s saloon bar talk of getting a striker coach in. I don’t know the logistics and various ins/out of that, and how realistic that actually is. Though finance aside, it’s not like there’s a shortage of ex-pros doing coaching badges.
But something needs to change, even if it’s just some different methods on the training pitch.
Anyway, it was our first league defeat on the road this season, and I do think we’re generally in a better place than we were last time out. But the gloss and the feel-good factor has definitely gone, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get back on track.
Just one other thing that came up last week – I was a bit surprised to find out that Joe Palmer is on the advisory board for Canberra FC’s bid for A-League.
I’m not bothered with his comments that big himself up a bit – he’s not the first COO to ever do that, and certainly won’t be the last – but how he’s got the time to take this other role on.
I would guess that running AFCW “day-to-day”, as he supposedly is, should take up the bulk of his working day. Unless it’s some once-a-couple-of-weeks-on-Skype jobbie, should an important employee like him be moonlighting in such a way?
And if he is finding he’s got spare time on his hands, get him down to the training ground and make him the strikers coach. He couldn’t do any worse…