Tick tock

Yes, SW19 is back. And I wish I wasn’t…

So, where to start in this shitshow called the AFC Wimbledon 2018/19 season? Let’s begin with some stats. Proper ones that mean something in real life, not psychobabble like “expected goals”…

  • We have lost the last seven games and scored just two goals in that time.
  • Our last points – not just a win but a point – was the 2-1 victory over Oxford on 29th September. Which was one of the worst victories I can ever remember watching.
  • Before even that game, we lost the previous two games (scored three). We beat Gillingham on 8th September, our last points on the road.
  • And before even that, we lost the previous three games, although one of them was the Sunderland fixture. That takes us back to August…

So, with the latest first, that’s a run of LLLLLLLWLLWLLL.

It’s much more than that, of course. The feeble approach to goalscoring, the tactics that haven’t evolved since we lost to Slutton in the FAC, the gradual erosion of our identity, ousting of the genuine characters in the squad, leading to the spineless pieces of shit we have today.

This is obviously clearly acceptable to the decision makers at AFCW, because nothing has been done about it.

More on them later. Let’s focus on our current manager, who did the mea culpas of all mea culpa contrition acts this week. Yesterday was supposed to be the turning point for him, the redemption.

That we played well in the first half (or “better than the Luton game”, to quote somebody there) isn’t relevant when you end up shitting the bed in the second half, and end up losing a game you simply must win.

If anything, it shows just how weak he is now. He has basically tried everything and it’s failed, because where does he go from here?

He gave the players a six hour session with the sports shrink, and it had limited effect. We faced a Shrewsbury side whose own manager was holding on by his fingernails and were, by all accounts, not very good.

But just like so many times over the years, a half-time team talk didn’t work. And when John Askey changed things to save his own skin, we didn’t have an answer.

If you want us to get relegated, then NA is the right man for the job. There’s nothing now to suggest he will turn it around, even if he scrapes through to January. In fact, especially if he makes it to 2019.

His record in the transfer windows since we got into L1 has been awful, and he can no longer rely on anyone from the L2 promotion days.

And what’s he going to do in January anyway? It will be difficult to get rid of any players he doesn’t want, because contracts mean something.

Getting anyone in is difficult enough when you’re bottom, and if there’s issues with senior players – they’ll be the ones texting their mates, and mates of mates telling any potential signing not to come here.

Players have more power these days. Much more.

A new boss, by the way, would at the very least give current squad members something new and different to think about. Is it really going to be any worse having an interim manager now, or indeed somebody just here until the end of the season?

I read NA’s post-match interview on the OS, and while most of it is a broken record, this bit at the very end caught my eye:

It leaves me somewhere in the middle, just to tell you what happened in the game, that everyone can see. It’s the same old problems.

“Same old problems”. That’s because it’s the same old manager, doing the same old things, with the same old voice. He simply cannot get through to the squad any more, at least for any significant length of time.

Do we have fitness issues? Like the dying days of the TB era, there are now rumours surfacing about our squad being under-trained, which if true is not a good sign at all.

Ardley will be in charge for the FAC game on Friday, although even a 5-0 win won’t make that much difference. A loss might though. But really – what’s the point of him being here now?

That interview I’ve just linked to is classic signs of somebody who’s gone as far as he can and knows it. If he was to have “the talk” with the powers-that-be, I imagine he’d be very relieved to be out of the firing line now.

And speaking of the people who supposedly make the decisions at this club…

I say “supposedly”, because apart from that intervention by the CEO last week, we’ve heard fuck all from any of them. Be it Football Club Board or Dons Trust Board.

I know why Erik Samuelson released that statement, although it should have been done three weeks earlier, but having re-read it again this morning – it really hasn’t aged well since 5pm yesterday.

It certainly wasn’t easy to find on the OS news archive, and I had to follow a Twatter link to be able to look at it again. Hopefully not a conscious decision.

But like football fans, the internet doesn’t forget. And it’s ended up making a rod for so many backs. Saying NA still has the dressing room is a dangerous assumption for a board to make anyway (as if a manager is going to admit otherwise to his employers).

Insinuating that changing a manager won’t make much difference is both ignorant thinking and worrying too. A new boss may well have relegation with AFCW in 2019 on the CV, but trust me on this – there are many out-of-work managers who would love the opportunity to prove otherwise.

And I bet they’d see the lack of transfer funds as a challenge to be relished, not shyed away from.

The bit about “fine margins” and “will even itself out over the season” is classic we’re-in-shit-but-we-cannot-bring-ourselves-to-admit-it stuff. It’s embarrassing enough to read even from a manager under pressure, let alone the top decision maker.

I could go on with the rest of it, but like Ardley’s continued tenure – there’s not much point.

It’s funny (and not in a chortle-chortle way). When a player is deemed no good, he’s quickly booted out and occasionally has his contract terminated with just a few pen strokes. Fans are more often than not told to sit down and support the team, no matter how much horseshit there is.

But with Ardley, it feels like we have to tiptoe around him, as though we have to ignore the score of losses and bad performances under him.

A few were at it yesterday, saying just a bit more luck etc etc and we would have won. It’s a long time to be going without luck, isn’t it?

We’re in trouble, and yet there’s still a very real sense that proper scrutiny (where it matters) of Ardley is being deflected, and that we’re still expected to blame everything else except him.

Why, I don’t know, but there seems to be a helluva lot of personal – and emotional – investment in him. If NA fails, then so do the people who stand by him as well. Our current manager isn’t the only one who’s very stubborn, after all.

I’ve heard a couple of people in the last 48 hours suggest that the FCB in particular is inexperienced and has hit their own ceiling. And I think that’s quite plausible.

Are they still sticking behind NA because they genuinely believe that he – and only he – can get us out of this shit? Or is it because they don’t quite know what to do now?

If it’s the former – what credible reason do they have to still think that? If it’s the latter…