As this (probably) becomes the last update of 2018, at least we’re leaving this calendar year with a sense we’re now going in the right direction.
It’s been a pretty lousy twelve months, hasn’t it? So much has been read and written about what’s gone wrong, and will probably continue to do so for a good while.
We do deserve a good 2019 though. Christ, I almost expect one.
This time of year is a funny one for keeping up with things, especially games. You’ve probably forgotten yesterday already, but 0-0 with Blackpool might be quite an important point after all.
To be honest (and I’m not trying to sound all smart-arse after the event), I wasn’t surprised at us drawing. Even with a better squad than currently, we never seemed to win three on the spin anyway.
We may or may not be good enough to have back-to-back wins on a semi-regular basis, but a point is better than a loss.
Plus, there’s the jaded-over-Xmas factor. Your editor was at Birmingham v Brentford yesterday, and it was clear both sides were weary from the amount of games you have at this time of year.
I wouldn’t be surprised to find the same with us – and I would have snapped your arm off to have two wins and a draw in a week before Wycombe.
We face Pompey on NYD (and I’m at Griffin Park again**) and while we’ll expect very little from that – we can go there without the overwhelming sense of dread these days.
It’s practically a free hit, and thankfully won’t decide our season.
** – no, I’m not becoming a Brentford fan, I’m not going to have a Neal Maupay tattoo done. Though I passed their new ground on the A4/M4 flyover over Xmas and it did genuinely look impressive. Though it won’t match the first goosebumps at the NPL construction.
Psychologically, it’s a bit of a blow to get a point, then to look at the league table and see we’ve dropped a place and gone from a three-point gap to four.
But right now, it’s more important to get into the mentality of not conceding goals, of which we did for the first time since September 8th at Gillingham. I don’t count the Chuckaturd or the FAC at Harringey, but it’s yet another unwelcome statistic now put to rest.
I know you can’t not look at the league table, and the mathematics right now, but we have to adopt the attitude of looking after ourselves and the surge upwards will come.
There’s still 21 games left, and we’re becoming more organised and a lot harder to beat. Other teams won’t be.
It may or may not be enough by the time we kick the last ball of the season at Bradford City. But we’ve played two teams in a week who are both currently in the top ten, and got four points from them.
And this before we’ve added to the squad.
Walter made a startling announcement before Blackpool that the incoming stuff is done already. Startling because not only have we seemingly lined up new faces for 1/1/19 – a change in approach if ever I saw it – but also because it might not be the new striker we want/need.
That would be a “brave” decision, as they used to say on Yes, Minster. Unless WAG already think that who we have is no worse than anyone we’ll bring in.
Or Walter is already showing why he’s a market trader at heart…
We’ll see. Although we are managing to win/not lose games without one of our two main strikers not being available at any one time. And as a certain Championship manager said yesterday, don’t judge them on this one game.
There’s no promise of wholesale changes, which might be deliberately dampening the expectations, but there’s a definite upswing in the all-round mood right now.
It seems we were disappointed that we got a goal-less draw yesterday, while it wasn’t many weeks ago that you would have given both your left bollock and your right one too for that.
While writing this, we might have had the moment-of-truth interview from Tom King yesterday that will confirm many suspicions about what went on before.
He’s not wrong, is he?
I’ve done enough post-game interviews over the years to know that when a player says “I won’t say anything too damaging” about a former manager – they really want to say something disparaging.
You don’t even need to read inbetween the lines on this one – the overloading players with instructions, being allowed to concentrate on the football, a not-so-subtle hint at players getting fed up and the killer “We’re all pulling in one direction now”.
King himself has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new regime, having a regular starting place again and taking it with (perhaps literally) two hands.
He did seem to be a bit harshly treated, especially as his issue of coming off his line needs more proper coaching rather than getting dropped. And McDonnell proved not to be any better.
“But wait” you now cry. “Wasn’t he one of the Jaegerbomb Squad?”. I believe he was, but like many of our fans – he was being driven to alcohol by the previous regime.
Perhaps more seriously, I think that highlighted the breakdown in trust and respect between a lot of the squad and the former manager. Allegedly going out on the lash inbetween games is pretty much telling your boss that his authority means fuck all.
And it doesn’t do much for the line coming out of the club at time that “We’re very confident Neal continues to carry the dressing room with him”.
There’s more of a sense of unity anyway now, you can definitely feel it – even without these type of interviews. I’m sure it will break down between WAG and squad eventually, but you don’t see too many signs of that just yet.
Anyway, that’s it for this year. 2019 should be a interesting one, not least because NPL will literally start rising from the ashes. The club did show us where the actual pitch will go, but I see we might need to get there early for a good spot on that earth mound…