So much going on, so little time to write about it…
Yep, this place is back after your editor’s sojourn to the US/work getting in the way/picking up the same colds that everyone else seems to have right now.
Nice and peaceful, isn’t it?
Let’s start with the present, which is the most important thing after all. Or more accurately, let’s begin with yesterday’s game.
Points mean prizes, as last season should have taught you, and Mr Championship-Quality’s late leveler rescued what could turn out to be a massive point.
Not just because it’s a point that we probably got away with, and lifted us above Franchise and out of the drop zone, but because the issues that partly scuppered our last manager could engulf our current one too.
Let’s be honest – we’re not a very good side.
I managed to see the Burton game thanks to iFollow video (well worth $7 USD) and if we were still playing that game until this morning we wouldn’t have scored.
Yesterday sounded like us doing similar for a while, not being able to find the net until eventually we did.
Watching the highlights on Sky Sports’ website, their goal was poor to concede. If Trott returns to WHU in January, one suspects very few will be upset. Even if he did make the EFL team of the month.
No doubt Appiah’s goal – a decent header, by the way – boiled the piss of a few, who see him as one of the big reasons why GH is in charge and not Walter.
And it’s true that he’s not exactly the most popular player amongst fans. Yes, we all know he was a poor signing, one that still costs us money and allowed through with some very poor decision making higher up.
I might even go so far as to call it negligence.
But his goal has ensured we didn’t lose, and for that alone we should be a little more grateful.
True, he doesn’t help himself by blocking fans on Twatter, but I guess the rest of the squad are happy to see him become the hate figure. While there wasn’t a mass bundle around him after we equalised, if it’s a role he’s happy to play he’ll revel in it.
No, it’s not ideal. But as they say in various parts of Ireland, I wouldn’t start from here…
We are where we are, and for the nth season in a row our aim is to make sure we’re still in this division this time next year if possible.
The big news when your editor was away was GH taking over full time. And it’s an appointment that AFCW might have lucked into.
Hodger (who needs another nickname) already seems to be a better “fit” than Walter ever was, not just at the club but for what football itself is in 2019.
I can’t ever imagine GH being caught pounding away on a William Hill app, but then along with Sanchez and Winterburn he was always part of the lesser celebrated members of that era.
And without whom, the likes of Walter would have been footnotes today.
During one or both of his Meet The Manager shindigs, I forget which one he said it, WD suggested that it was GH who was the one sending stuff through to players via email or SMS with links over strategy etc.
And at the last MTM, our now ex-manager said something along the lines of how the squad didn’t go en masse to Magaluf or wherever for the end of season pissup, that they did their own thing.
I know in the two he did, he mentioned how players think differently these days, and I guess he never totally came to terms with that.
Many things conspired to oust Wally from his position at AFCW – the bets, the poor results, apparent (and plausible) squad issues, and the relationship between him and the decision makers all combined at exactly the same time – but he was also a throwback to the past.
Not just in terms of approach but in how he understood modern footballers too. He needed to reinvent himself, and he just couldn’t fully do it.
Maybe that explained why for a few (many?) away games he didn’t travel back with the squad. And it was nothing to do with there being no room on the coach.
The post-match shenanigans at the FrenzyDome might have surprised a few, not just because of the incident itself but discovering WD returned separately.
Maybe that was a warning sign that things weren’t exactly right? If you’re a player in a side that is losing too many games and your manager isn’t right down the front and accessible on journeys back, what does that do to the intra-team dynamics?
Or to put it another way – if the guy in charge of you isn’t there to talk to, no wonder some senior players apparently went to those higher up…
All that is academic now. Wally Downes is gone, and he’ll only be back for nostalgia fests with Vinny Jones in tow. I won’t be snarky and suggest Double Diamond is on draught and Jimmy Jones is doing the compering that evening 😉
But then, we’ve learned a lot this past month or so. And I mean, a lot.
Realising how complex the “identity” of Wimbledon, and the whole WFC/AFCW crossover thing still plays a big part in many a psyche is one of them.
After WD finally got the elbow, I read a few comments about how AFCW was “no longer Wimbledon FC” and “how a bit of the soul died”.
Your editor does have some sympathy for that viewpoint – I felt similar until the Conference South days, when we started playing at a level that I could culturally identify with.
As this past month – and before that – has proven though, nostalgia is a dangerous game to play if you’re not careful. We think of WFC being, well, WFC all the time, but it wasn’t.
It certainly wasn’t during the late 1990s, and I bet (no pun intended) that if you were to be transported back to various times twenty, thirty and forty years ago, it wouldn’t be close to how you remembered it.
And not in a good way too.
WD going was a closing of a particular chapter for some, and it might have shocked them to see how AFCW in 2019 acted to somebody who they associated most with the era they identified most with.
Which is another thing we’ve learned recently – the club is a bit harder, a bit more cynical and a tad less sentimental now.
We know about the issues between WD and some of the people in charge. And yes, I don’t doubt it was a major factor in us having GH today.
AFCW could have taken the “easy” way out and kept our previous manager on ice until his suspension ran up. Although I think that would have caused more problems than it was worth.
That it chose to dismiss him is one thing, that it also used recent results as a public reason is the sign of a club that isn’t shy of upsetting sections of its fanbase any longer where necessary.
The club made the right decision, and with the possible exception of nobody from AFCW being with Walter for his FA hearing, actually handled the whole situation well enough.
After all, it was put into this predicament by one man’s actions – and only one man – to begin with. I genuinely haven’t envied anyone in charge – FCB or DTB – this last month**.
** – and I’ll say this now, speaking as somebody who doesn’t think the sun shines out of their arses. Some of what’s been thrown at them recently is what I expect from Franchise fans. We’re better than that. Or at least, we should be.
Probably because of that, the club won’t be nearly so willing to go with the “popular” choice any longer. Things will inevitably go wrong at some stage, so they might as well employ the people they really want to work with.
The club has never been good at handling how to sack managers in the past, usually bending over backwards to keep them in charge for too long. You can’t accuse AFCW of dawdling over dismissing Walter though.
One expects we’ll be more ruthless now. If GH goes on a bad run of form, he’ll be gone. That may be three months away or three years, but it’s a more hard-hearted approach and one we have to take now.
Sentiment and emotion has taken a big knock, although that’s no bad thing. There was a letter writing campaign to persuade the decision makers to employ WD when they appeared to get cold feet.
Next time, that won’t happen, and if the club feels (say) Russell Slade is the best choice for manager, they’ll go ahead and appoint him regardless.
That the club seriously considered him last time suggests they too want to break away from the whole ex-WFC thing. In future, they’ll do exactly that…
Which leads up to the most important thing that we’ve learned from all this – the club always moves on.
It’s how we got from the CCL to League One in the first place, because we were always reinventing ourselves, and adapting to the division we were in. We’ve lost that ability in recent years, as we’ve struggled to fully come to terms with professional football.
But recent events are just another chapter in our continued progression.
Wally Downes was our manager, but now he’s not. Glyn Hodges is the guy in charge, Nick Daws is his assistant, and they’re now the two most important people employed by the club.
Daws himself is a good appointment, not only because he’s an auslander but he was our head of recruitment. So he knows who’s out there when we need replacements in January.
Finance will dictate a lot of what we do next transfer window, and probably next close season too, but as said earlier – both seem to “fit” at the club.
It helps that both have an attacking philosophy, even if it hasn’t happened so much in the last couple of games.
Both seem to get through to the players sufficiently enough too. GH has been in charge for six games, and his record is W3 D1 L2, which isn’t a bad return. And we’re getting results despite a turd of a squad that is misfiring.
Sure, it won’t always be plain sailing for both, and you can’t constantly rely on playing badly for too long and get away with it.
We may yet go down this season, although we’ve been given a better chance to escape it than we had kept things as they were.
I don’t believe in religion, but when I was away somebody said that recent events prove God is a Womble after all – namely, they’ve happened to our advantage. They may be right…