I know it’s still the Easter holidays, and we play tomorrow, but you can read this in the garden…
Now the dust has settled a bit more from Good Friday, we’re into the crunch time of things. It’s no longer the next three fixtures – it’s the last three.
Simply put, now is the time we either shit, or get off the pot.
There’s been plenty of wound licking since Brizzle Rovers, and that’s mostly a realisation we’ve had another golden opportunity and failed to take advantage of it.
And today, we get to stew just a bit longer, looking at other L1 fixtures while we face the Champions-Elect tomorrow.
Make no mistake, today and tomorrow could almost mean the drop. If results elsewhere fail us, and we shit the bed in Bedfordshire then KM on Saturday could end up being a wake.
All together now – no change there, then.
Which is why right now all squad members need to realise they’ve run out of excuses. There’s no games in a few weeks time to claw things back – this really is it.
While I doubt anyone wanted to play Luton at their place in this situation, it will at least focus minds. A loss is expected, and one suspects we’ll be looking to minimise the damage to our goal difference.
A gubbing tomorrow could work in of two ways – it may either be the psychological beating too far (especially after today’s contests), or might force us to face up to what we’re throwing away – particularly after clawing ourselves back to even being in with a chance of survival.
But no AFCW fan reading this wants that to happen. While we’ve drawn too many games recently, a point tomorrow could be worth more than just that.
And if we win…
Let’s face it – we need the massive shot in the arm just for that final three-game push. We’ve faded recently, and while we’ve not lost games it still feels like that’s what we’ve done.
We’re effectively in play-off football, where every result really does matter, and that’s the mentality we now have to take.
Did we drop the ball against Rovers/t’Stanley because we weren’t focused enough? As though we knew that a draw kicked the can down the road for our survival? Perhaps, but now we have to pick up said can.
I have to admit, a lot of the reason I’ve done this very update is reading Walter’s pre-match interview on the OS this morning.
He’s certainly giving it the we-are-underdogs-and-we-are-going-there-to-win prep talk. Rather that than “we’re fucked”, even if that’s what a large number of us are really thinking.
But I’ve noticed he’s also bigging up the youngsters, praising them for how resilient they are.
Reading between the lines, it seems like there were a few, ahem, discussions after Good Friday. Hence the “clear the air” comment made. Whether that was a realisation of blowing yet another good chance, it probably was.
Indeed, he’s focused on how young a team we are and how they improve game by game. Which again does sound like a manager talking about a side in October rather than April.
Yet it’s practically to the exclusion of the senior players.
We’ve mentioned about the yoof who’ve started recent fixtures in previous updates, but think of the older heads who started Good Friday – McDonald is 27, Wagstaff is 29, Wordsworth is 30, Hanson is 31 and Piggy is a a whippersnapper at 25.
Add 32-year old Tom Soares finally leaving Wally’s woodshed, and it’s a stretch to call our current XI a bunch of youngsters. There’s enough experience there, but our manager seems to almost ignore that.
Why? I think WD feels let down by the senior players since he’s been here. He’s definitely been impressed by the more juvenile squad members, and is quite quick to praise them even after poor results.
But it’s harder to find him praising the older guard in post-match interviews. Maybe I’ve missed all of that, but one suspects the only reason he didn’t get shot of them in January is because he couldn’t.
I can’t imagine a young striker being dug out for his fitness as Mr Championship-Quality was in that update (and that brief mention of Deji may have spoken volumes).
Which will make the final three games interesting. Perhaps our management are challenging the older players to step up to the plate one more time? Many if not most of them will be gone, and some will struggle to get a club if we go down.
And it’s a bit no-win for them. Stay up, and the youngsters/management team will get most of the plaudits. Go down, and they’ll be the ones who will be blamed.
No, it’s not an ideal situation, and that could backfire. But then, it’s not exactly been an ideal situation since August…
We’re about to see what this squad is made of this week. That by 10pm tomorrow there will only be two games left will come as a relief, but so much will happen inbetween that time.
Whatever we did before the WHU FAC game, or indeed for the Donny/Posh/Southend run of results, we need to dig that out tomorrow. Then Saturday, then the final push a week later.
Do that, and we’ve got a good chance of staying up. If we don’t…