Pier Pressure

Crap headline, but like I’m going to reference Strictly Come Dancing…

I think I’ve only ever watched two minutes total of said programme, but there was probably more movement and self-control in Saturday’s rehearsals than we saw in Winter Gardens 2 South Park Gardens 0.

There isn’t really much to say about it, to be honest. I know we’re not very good, but I was surprised – and perhaps more shocked than I should be – about how lightweight we are.

When your only real effort of note is Terrell Thomas doing a solo run that probably gave him a nosebleed as much as anyone else, you know it was a wasted weekend.

The weird thing is, everyone seemed to kind-of expect this, yet it still managed to annoy us even when we were proven right.

It was probably the worst we’ve played under GH, and just a reminder to everyone that a turd of a squad remains a turd.

More on that a bit later. To be fair, we were OK enough in the first half, on course for a 0-0 that all of us would now happily accept if offered again.

But when you have a midfield that doesn’t do anything but gawp at the opposition running past them, you don’t really give yourself much of a chance…

It’s never a good sign when they score so soon after the restart and it already felt like game over. We did press them again after going 1-0 down, but we would have stood a better chance putting the local seagulls on instead.

On second thoughts, they would have wanted some stale bread as payment, and our budget won’t stretch to that.

At least their second – as ably and expertly defended as their first – stopped the pretence of a comeback. And it gave everyone a chance to spend more time in a Blackpool boozer.

Which is probably where most of the squad were on the Friday night, judging by how they played the following day.

If you want in-depth analysis of the game, you wouldn’t read this place anyway. But even so, I think I’ve managed to more or less forget the performance already.

It was shite, the problems haven’t gone away, and I’m still counting down the days when so many of this lot are out of contract.

I may or may not be at Donny tomorrow. The team better turn up…

Plus points: N/A

Minus points: 3pm to 4.50pm on Saturday.

The referee’s a…: As usual, not his fault that we shat the bed. But it doesn’t help matters when you see a blatant push in the area and you still don’t get the penalty.

Them: There was an advert saying “Blackpool are back” opposite our stand, and I guess post-Oyston they are.

Didn’t think they were massively special, but then they didn’t need to be – had we shown more guile and less willingness to give the ball to them, we might have got a bit more.

In other news, if your auntie had testicles she’d be called Ryan.

Bit of a strange club Blackpool, insofar as they’re a lot like Plymouth. Namely you’d expect them to be a Championship level side, given their support and stadium, but they always seem to languish in the lower two divisions.

And yes, I know they were in the Premier League under Holloway (and I bet the town centre was fun when Yernited/Liverpool/Citeh/others came to Bloomfield Road), but that was almost ten years ago now.

I suppose it’s because along with Preston, they’re the club you associate with those black and white newsreels of trips to Wembley, woodbines and rattles from the immediate post-war era.

Maybe we can get one of their players on loan in January? Hell, make it Stanley Matthews – he’s been dead since 2000 but he’d be as effective as our current lot.

Point to ponder: Is the focus not only turning back towards our players but the board as well?

When somebody yelled “Fuck off Hartigan” about five minutes after coming on as sub, and nobody called them out over it, you sense that this lot won’t be the most loved AFCW squad.

They’ve made their point earlier this season (and Wagstaff didn’t sound too upset at Walter’s demise), but when you do that you then have to start delivering your side of the bargain.

That didn’t happen on Saturday, and I won’t be that surprised to see our fans turn against them again.

Think of around this time last season with the post-game reactions at both Harringey and Doncaster. Sadly, I can’t find either on video now but if it crops up somewhere have a brief stroll down memory lane again.

A fair amount of those players subject to those, ahem, forthright expressions are still at the club. While there was more applause at Blackpool** it won’t take much more for things to go back to what they were a year ago.

** – not much more though. The vast majority kept their hands in their pockets, and not just because it was getting cold.

This lot doesn’t have much personality, a problem we’ve had since Fuller and Darius left. That was down to Ardley, though Walter wasn’t able to rectify it, so it’s now left to GH to carry that particular can.

Once again, this January transfer window becomes a very important one. We can’t do wholesale changes, but we do need a signing/loanee or two (nearer three) just to change us enough in the right areas.

While I think there’s too much expectation that replacing our current crop will significantly improve us – L1 is full of ordinary players on a lot of money – replaced they must be.

And this is where the board itself is going to start delivering too.

They now have somebody they prefer in charge, so they too have run out of excuses not to give as much backing in January as possible.

We’ll never know if Walter had his budget cut partly because he wasn’t a favourite – nothing would surprise me, to be honest – but they can’t use that on our third permanent manager in a year.

I know that with NPL and our restrictive ownership model etc etc, funds are tight (apparently Steven Reid, when he was helping out Bassey, noted that the whole club is run on a shoestring), but perhaps things are a bit too stingy.

True, there’s been a push towards the youngsters, and that’s done as much by design as necessity, but this season alone shows you just can’t progress without some more experience.

We over-rely on Wordsworth being the grandpappy of the group, and when he’s not there you get “performances” like we did at Bloomfield Road.

I don’t doubt GH and Daws (he with the database) know what and who is needed, but are they going to get more than the usual £2.50 in funds…?

Swass Sticker: A new category in a series of one, and only because when walking to the ground I saw this by some windowlickers from Buckinghamshire:

I guess it was designed during their art classes at their care home. Presumably still not allowed to use the pens and pencils that grown-ups can.

Personally, I love the “Kingston” reference, if only because it’s so stupid. What are they going to do when we’re at NPL? On second thoughts, that involves thinking, and that might be legitimately dangerous for any innocent bystanders.

Still, I hope they enjoyed their trip to Bolton on Saturday. We certainly did…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) On Blackpool promenade, because of the horse-and-cart attractions, they have horse manure recycling boxes. Insert own joke here. 2) The Paul Osew song to Voulez-Vous. With that and the Kalambayi song, it’s clear one of our number watches Eurovision for the camp Euro-pop. 3) So, which player got a separate cab after the game with “MK” on the number plate? It’s probably innocent, by the way, but after Saturday I’m in the mood to shit-stir.

Anything else? We’re now in the time of the season where the plans for January start getting made, budgets decided etc. We have six league games left in 2019 and the need to be in touching distance becomes ever more apparent.

I can’t imagine GH and Daws being too impressed with what went on at Bloomfield Road, and as stated previously, you would expect a better relationship between manager and decision makers these days.

Partly because of the circumstances he took over in, Hodger is pretty much getting a free pass from the majority (if not vast majority) of supporters.

That won’t last forever, no manager has a permanent honeymoon, so it’s important for him that he can get stuff done.

And our current manager has quite a task on his hand, because he’s got to change a culture that has been ingrained for a long while – certainly since we got promoted to L1.

It was interesting in his post-Blackpool interview that he wants our squad to have a go in games. Considering some of the Ardley era remains – and Walter wasn’t exactly a purveyor of attacking football either – he might not be able to do it fully with this set of players.

Unless things go badly wrong to the point his position is untenable, GH is here for the medium term. Though I think the days of managers staying at AFCW for six seasons are now in the past, which is no bad thing.

So at least he/Daws will get the chance at some point to properly stamp their mark on the squad. The question is – when?

January transfer windows are notorious for obvious reasons, and by the time we can properly start rebuilding in May we might be a L2 club.

I hope Hodger succeeds in making us a more attacking side, football is there to be enjoyed after all and we’ve had too many years of negativity. And we’ll be more successful as a result.

If Saturday was anything to go by though, he’s got his work cut out…

So, was it worth it? Piss off

In a nutshell: The donkeys in Blackpool were wearing luminous shirts on Saturday.