And managed to be surprising and unsurprising at the same time.
So, farewell Neal Ardley. After an awful run of form, and an FA Cup tie at Harringey that managed to make the mood even worse, our current manager has now become our ex-manager.
I’ll give more measured thoughts later today (it’s my day off, you bastards), but some initial ones – this has been coming for a while, if we’re being honest. The games had got progressively worse, and NA’s ability to get through to the players became even less.
Even so, it’s still a bit of a surprise that he’s gone the weekend after we won in the FA Cup. I would have expected this after a draw or a loss, but a victory? Even a 90th minute one against a Turdeyland side?
Mind you, the SW19 report from Harringey may have been quite foreboding, reading it back. The vibe was definitely an unpleasant one this past couple of days, even more so than normal, and writing that was a lot harder than it should have been.
And maybe was the straw that left the poor camel needing major back surgery.
There were the usual social media rumours swirling yesterday, although this time they weren’t quickly denied. This was no Brizzle Rovers “resignation”, this turned out to be the final departing of the ways.
Yet although I couldn’t stand his brand of football, even your editor feels a little bit of a twang of sadness over this.
Emotions aside – so where are we right now? Well, Neil Cox is also gone, and Bassey is in interim charge. Which is practically the same situation as it was when TB left, Stuart Cash went along with him.
According to the club, it’s by mutual agreement, which is basically not a sacking but not a resignation either. It’s probably done for employment law reasons, and maybe the final payoff as well.
The OS statement itself is quite gushing about him, and it’s clear that the relationship between manager and Football Club Board went beyond a straightforward professional one.
But we don’t get to find out why NA left. We probably never will, unless he opens up in an interview afterwards. And even then, it will likely be along the lines of, he’s gone as far as he can with us.
Which is true. This season has already ended up weird, because of the way we started it then how we slumped to where we are today. We’ll be discussing that well into next season as well, no doubt.
But the Shrewsbury game seemed to kill any thoughts of yet another NA resurrection off for good. Everything was put into just one more push for him, and it fell apart in the 90th minute.
We’ll never know what really went through NA’s mind then, or indeed last Friday, but one suspects he’s probably glad to be out of it.
Perhaps a co-incidence, but the Swindon job is now up for grabs…
There’s much more to write about our recent departed manager, but this is AFC Wimbledon and not AFC Neal Ardley. We move on. And boy, do we need to.
I’ll be honest here – I was really not looking forward to going to Doncaster on Saturday. Now I am. Ditto a lot of people, one suspects, and the next home game against Southend will probably end up being a full house.
Bassey takes interim charge again, and it will be interesting to see who his right-hand man will be for now. Reeves? Robinson? We don’t have any senior player/manager types who can do that role.
The new boss is something (and someone) to look forward to, although just as the club cannot afford to balls the appointment up – it also cannot afford to dawdle. It should be looking for NA’s replacement this very minute.
And the onus falls back on the players again. I was busy having a slash, so didn’t see it, but apparently they got shitloads of abuse from the travelling Womble hoards after the game on Friday. Not the first time either, and now they too have nowhere to hide.
They may not have wanted to play under NA, but now they’ll be faced with a new boss who has the power over them again. Somebody with new contacts (hopefully), a fresh pair of eyes and somebody who will have carte-blanche to breath life into a very stale AFCW.
Your editor mentioned yesterday that he was at Reading v Ipswich**, and the Tractor Boys looked a different team under Paul Lambert just two games in. And everyone will be hoping for something similar with us.
** – and I don’t know if it’s common knowledge, but on transfer deadline day Deji was seen in the reception at Portman Road. We wanted more money than ITFC wanted to pay, by the sounds of it. Might explain why our captain’s head isn’t right.
See, even now I don’t think we’re quite so doomed. We’re still in November after all, and I do believe a lot of our problems have been psychological and having to deal with a (let’s face it) clapped out regime.
Our lack of accuracy up front speaks for itself, and I do question our fitness levels (physically as much as mentally), but that’s something for the new guy to look at.
January will be the most important month in a good long while, and we need to get that right. Because we’ve all seen what happens when you don’t.
We have the FA Cup draw tonight, and suddenly I want to find out who we’re playing. It may be unfair to a man who gave six years to us, but I’m starting to feel my enthusiasm return already.
More to come. But interesting times ahead…