Mack and Cheese

It doesn’t get any easier, does it?

Yep, SW19 is back, and the rollercoaster that is the 2018/19 season continues. A strange Big Dipper at that, as we somehow manage to have the big drops without too many of the peaks.

We played well at Sunderland, but as so often the case this campaign – just one error proved the difference. A probable well-earned point becomes a guaranteed zero.

It’s exactly the sort of things teams going through the relegation trap door do. When you play well and still don’t get anything, it’s hard not to think our number is up for us this time.

It’s still possible to get out of this shit, although we have yet to gain anything more than a single point in 2019. We’ve also lost the last three, and four out of five, although all bar Fleetwood have been against the legit promotion candidates.

So effectively the season – and our survival campaign – starts now.

Do-able? Yes. Likely? Ask me at the end of March, or even February, when we’ll probably know where we’re heading in 19/20. If it’s still a nine point gap, or worse, get out the maps to Crawley and Mansfield again.

Narrow it down to four points by the time we face t’Stanley at KM and then it gets interesting. Especially as that month we face Oxford and Brizzle Rovers…

Unfortunately, it does mean two things – firstly, it relies on other teams losing form, and one of the more demoralising things recently is how (almost literally) everyone else manages to score goals and win games.

Secondly, it means we, you know, have to win games and score goals ourselves. And as Walter is finding out, you just can’t polish a turd.

We need the one thing we’ve lacked all season, namely somebody to put it in the net on a regular basis, and with all the best will in the world I just can’t see that changing.

Hanson sicknote etc etc. Appiah three games on three games off blah blah blah. Jervis shit yadda yadda. Piggy……. you know the drill by now. Not so much a broken record but a 24 hour Groundhog Day marathon.

To be fair, we have got in two people who might make some difference. That’s not including Connolly, who has already impressed people with his Azeez-like pace and his unAzeez-like skill.

And he’s ours.

Before transfer deadline day, we also signed Watford u23 striker Michael Folivi on loan. A man who should have a chant along the lines of “Follow You Follow Me” by Genesis, but won’t get one.

He wasn’t at Sunderland, but I suspect we’ll be seeing him make more of a cameo in the upcoming games. Ditto our other deadline day catch Shane McLoughlin, who will be with us next season.

And to be blunt, I don’t really care if they’re “hungry youngsters” and not the more ready-made some wanted. Think of the alternatives we could have signed, and indeed have done in previous transfer windows.

We have avoided splashing the FAC cash on another Hanson type, or another Jervis-esque loan. As our previous manager found to his cost, it’s very easy in L1 to pay a shit load of money for some very ordinary players.

That’s why I don’t think we’ve had a bad transfer window. Sure, we haven’t got the 20+ goal striker we really need, but you don’t get those in January unless you spend practically all of next summer’s budget.

And the biggest failing was being unable to shift people out, but W&G did warn people at the MTM that shifting out loanees especially isn’t nearly as easy as people think.

There’s probably half an eye on rebuilding for L2 this summer anyway, and I think Folivi in particular might even be a try-before-you-buy type loan.

And I get the impression WD doesn’t think much of the senior players he’s a) already got, and b) could have signed last month. The two we signed on deadline day, plus Connolly and Steve Seddon tell you what sort of players he prefers.

OK, we’ll need experience, but that’s for May onwards.

And let’s face it. If Connolly, Folivi and the others can play more than three games without getting injured, can find the net more often than one game in ten and give the impression they care – they’ll be vast improvements on what we have already.

We won’t see proper change until next season, unfortunately, but the initial signs do look promising on that score. However, it’s the present that matters, and we still have a chance of staying up.

Walter is mentioning going on winning streaks of 3/4 games, and if you’re going to hit form now is not a bad time to start doing it. Games bunch up at this time of season, and other teams start running out of juice.

It’s something he’ll have to (try to) instill in the players, and it’s something that we have to do anyway.

Thankfully, I was the other side of the Atlantic when we put in the Fleetwood horror show – a contest that I think made most fans prepare for the drop. A must-win game where we managed to lose 3-0.

I’d like to think that’s as bad as it will get between now and May, and even yesterday had some positivity coming out of it.

But it was the WHU game last week that still gives you hope. How can a team bottom of L1 play so well against a very expensive Premier League side? More to the point – who cares?

That post-game glow was something I haven’t felt in a good while, and that was us. Even standing nervously at the baggage reclaim at Logan Airport for those agonising last eight minutes, it was something I genuinely have forgotten what it’s like to experience.

It was proper Wimbledon** and that’s how I like it.

** – all I’ll say about the article by our current CEO that led to this “clarification” is it re-confirms how big an overhaul we still need throughout the club. Few good things will come from relegation, but maybe this will be one of them…

True, us playing Millwall will have disappointed some, especially with the 3pm Saturday kickoff. But if that game isn’t a catalyst then nothing will be.

I’m in no doubt W&G will be using that very game to prove to the players that they can play like that, and that there’s no excuse for putting in another Fleetwood.

If we do stay up, then maybe we will point to that week where it went so very wrong then so very right.

That’s probably why there isn’t so much wrist-slitting this morning, and not just because we’ve almost become conditioned to losses. We didn’t play badly on Wearside, but it was just one bad error from a player who soon got subbed after making it.

And again, remember this from MTM:

GH mentioned about players making mistakes – basically, telling them not to worry about making them (a contrast to the previous regime, seemingly). Everyone makes them after all, and we wouldn’t nail them to the floor for making them.

But just don’t keep making the same one, or they will be dropped.

Will Watson be in the same woodshed as Trotter is now? Especially as that’s twice in two games and who is “getting progressively worse” according to observers? Not that we’ll miss him if he is.

We have a shot at staying up, albeit one that is getting longer, but there are now very few games remaining against the legitimate promotion contenders.

And we’re now coming to the business end of the season, where results matter more than ever. Some teams will find a winning streak they haven’t had all season, others will choke and still more won’t be able to buy a win even if they sold their arse.

For many of the existing squad, it’s now shit or bust, because I doubt if most if not all of them will be playing in L1 again.

We’re about to see what they’re really made of, and whether they’ve got the cojones to pull off something that even many of our fans feel is beyond us now. It would be nice to think they can, and besides – they do owe us…