Ugly, isn’t it? And after Pilgrims 1 Church of England 0, one suspects it’s going to get even worse before it gets better.
For those at the Bradford game last Tuesday, just imagine that game but without their penalty, and you’ve more or less got it. Put it this way – when people are openly taking the piss out of the official OS report…
This against a team who was winless before yesterday, and apparently with quite a few out missing. Just thought I’d mention it.
OK, we had one saved/cleared off the line at 0-0, and if that had gone in it might have been a different story this morning. Mind you, before then we gave the ball away twice in areas that a better team than Argyle would have buried.
One of those was from a throw-in. Seriously, we threw it back into the middle and neither one of our centre backs were paying attention. The Plymouth player was, though.
But enough of the game. Driving back last night, something (metaphorically) struck me – this feels like the last few weeks of the Terry Brown era.
Back then, we too had “a lot of bad luck” coupled with an all-round stench of terminal decline, and more than a few rumours that the squad was being under-trained. That last bit popped up again last night on social media, from a couple of people I consider credible in these matters.
And just like those days, the team eventually just didn’t respond to anything the manager said or did.
No, NA hasn’t had the Burton/Bradford double whammy** that TB had, not yet anyway, but three very poor games in a week against teams in the bottom three comes close to that.
** – for those who successfully went through therapy and forgotten that, we lost 6-2 at Burton then 5-1 at Bradford a few days later.
Which is why I find his post match comments intriguing. It’s right down towards the end:
I’m judged by results, and I understand that. I am giving everything and the players care, whether people realise it or not, and we have to keep going, keep believing.
I’ll mention the second bit of what he was referring to in a minute, but is he under serious pressure? If he isn’t, he should be. I don’t think he’ll be axed just yet, but like our previous manager he’s going to need to pull out something very drastic – and soon.
And judging by yesterday, Tuesday and Oxford, I’ll only believe that if I see it.
The second part of that comment? During the game, especially during the second half there was some pretty loud abuse of our players. Not a massive uprising (our fans were pretty much silent yesterday), but enough for those on the field to hear it.
After the game, it got ratcheted up some more, and the players definitely knew what was being said. Only Deji, Kwesi and McDonnell came over from memory, and NA himself didn’t get too close.
Just as the Tuesday reaction was booing, the hostility has gone from being on t’internet to actual grief in the ground. Plenty of “not fit to wear the shirt” and “show some fucking pride” comments about.
It’s clear that people are now properly fed up, and they’re not biting their tongue any more. I don’t blame them one bit, if anything it’s been amazing people have kept it under wraps for this long.
And if the players and management don’t like that? Tough fucking shit. They get very well paid for their ability levels, certainly a lot more than the ordinary blokes who had to shell £21 yesterday.
They may hate getting grief, but they can do something about it. What makes me think they won’t though…?
Plus points: At least there was no traffic on the A303 coming back.
Minus points: 3pm to 5pm.
The referee’s a…: Another referee who had an “interesting” interpretation of the advantage rule. Apart from that, he’s not to blame for us losing yet again.
Them: If this is a League Two fixture next season, you wouldn’t be surprised.
That said, your editor saw Plymouth at Charlton this season and I thought they were a bit better than their position suggested. But even so, we made them look good for too much of the game.
It wasn’t a surprise when they scored, TBH, because they had been on the ascendancy before they finally netted. They just had more spark than we did, and certainly a lot more mobility.
No surprise either that Lapado scored, it’s one of the unwritten rules of football. Wonder if he sensed that going to AFCW wouldn’t have been a good move for him while doing the medical? Would explain a lot, anyway.
I like Plymouth as a club, although they’re one of those outfits who should be a lot bigger than they really are. They have the catchment area, even if a lot of their fans make the average Dons Trust meeting attendee look fresh-faced…
Point to ponder: So why has it gone so wrong so quickly?
Before we even attempt to answer that, your editor was listening to Yernited vs Newcastle on the wireless yesterday evening. You all know what happened, but the comments by Sam Matterface and Stuart Pearce about the home team could have applied to us.
They said that before they got their first goal, the hosts looked very anxious and very nervous, as though they were scared to make a mistake.
If they were talking about AFCW, they wouldn’t have been far wrong either.
I know that losing to Sunderland and West Ham must have taken a lot out of us mentally, but it should have made us realise just how well we can perform. Since then, we’ve shown nothing near that level.
And think back to even pre-season, and the usual
piss-up training session down in Wales. The squad apparently got on like a house on fire, more so than expected apparently.
Yesterday, they played too much like total strangers.
That does come down primarily to the current management team, because after WHU especially, they faced a need to deal with the psychological comedown of such heroic failure. And they simply haven’t done so.
We beat Gillingham, slightly convincingly, but it’s been a shocking decline ever since. Even the win against Oxford** somehow made the mood worse, and my abiding memory of that is Deji shitting himself late on and heading out for an un-necessary corner.
** – could NA’s “in-your-face” approach before that game be his equivalent of TB’s notorious “piles of toilet” comment? You can play Good Cop or Bad Cop but not both, especially with a squad that isn’t full of Alpha Males as it is.
Letting go of your main characters in a squad over the summer doesn’t help at all. And the 2017/18 intake wasn’t exactly full of thrusters. Injury prone he may be, but would we be any worse this season with a Darius around the place, just being an all-round influence?
But then, those with leadership credentials never seem to remain at the club. Can’t think why…
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Proves how shit yesterday was – even the famous pasties outside weren’t as nice as usual. 2) The press box directly behind the goal. Maybe that’s why the OS report didn’t reflect reality? 3) What was the tune they came out to in the beginning? It sounded like the music they played in the 1980s whenever there was a temporary fault on your telly.
Anything else? It’s only October I know, but we have to talk about relegation.
No, we shouldn’t have to. Even now, this squad is capable of mid-table mediocrity. But at this moment, we look like a side that will be facing St Evenage and Morecambe next campaign.
It would be a hammer blow, and then some, if that was to happen right before NPL, but you can’t say we wouldn’t deserve it.
The point of this particularly alarmist bit of prose isn’t that we will go down – it’s only a quarter of the season in – but more the notion that something drastic has to change before we get that far.
Because after watching the real-life reaction of people against Bradford and yesterday, I can’t see things holding together much longer without it.
The most drastic change of all is the obvious one, and you can’t deny that it would freshen things up considerably. The new guy would start with a clean slate, and have a lot of credit in the bank in case he doesn’t get much more out of this current squad.
Assuming that doesn’t happen, then what?
NA is banking on some of those goal-line clearances going in, and kicking up a bit of form. The trouble is, we failed to do exactly that after Gillingham and Oxford. And there’s nothing at the moment suggesting our wins are anything other than blips.
Keep things somehow as they are until NPL? Good luck with that, because patience has now definitely buckled. Crowds are dropping, and many are still pissed off over 80%Gate as it is, without another season of outright horseshit to tolerate.
Doing a drastic rearranging of the coaching staff? An interesting last throw of the dice (for that’s what it will be), though it would have to show an immediate positive effect. And then we’re quickly back to square one if it doesn’t.
Something else? Fuck knows. What’s clear is that something resembling a solution is needed. And quick…
So, was it worth it? *snorts derisively*
In a nutshell: Watching football is supposed to be enjoyable.