The Premiership is a money-grabbing leech fest, supported by plastic fans with identikit facepaint and pre-programmed opinions. It is infested with money-grabbing parasites who spend all their hyper-inflated wages with over-priced Armani suits, corrupt refs, greedy club chairmen and over-powering TV….. sorry, meeja companies cherry-picking the “cream” ties, hyping even the most dire game out of the stratosphere. It will kill football and I hope that all who feed off it choke and die.
OK, had we have stayed up last season then I wouldn’t have said such things, and would probably have said something like “The Premiership is fast becoming the world’s greatest league”, but hey, shit happens. Now, player exodus notwithstanding, our team is (talent-wise at least) more than cut-out for life in the Nationwide. Hell, we may even be good enough to go up, even if it IS via the playoffs. But unlike many other Wombles, I am not that convinced that we will go up straight away. In fact, I reckon that pushing for automatic promotion next year is actually going to cause us a lot more good than harm. Think I’m mad? Read on…..
After the Fulham debacle last season, and in a serious fit of anger, I wrote these very words in SW19 :
The culture of WFC seems to be Prem survival (I consider settling for survival year in year out as a massive failure on the part of WFC – not a success, and I think too many of our fans are gullible enough to swallow that line of thinking) at the expense of real success like reaching cup finals and finishing in the upper half of the table – it’s a long settled malase within the club, one we have probably had since 1988, and I think that probably explains what we saw today. Deny I’m right – bet you can’t, at least not without some serious thinking about what I’ve said.
Six months on and if anything those words read truer now than they did back then. We all have our theories on why we went down, I have mine too, but one thing everyone seems universally agreed on one thing : the attitude was wrong. Now, we all think that the attitude should improve in the first division, hell if playing away at Burnley and Crewe isn’t enough to wipe out complacency then nothing will, but will it? If anything we’re in danger of repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Witness some of the comments I’ve heard recently : “We’ll walk it, no problem“, “look at those fixtures, there’s nobody we can’t beat“, “Champions by Christmas, surely?“. No doubt the fans of Forest, Norwich, Blackburn and QPR were saying similar things when they went down.
Basically, we are probably no better equipped for success than we have done for quite a while, probably since 1988. Too many substandard, stroppy players, too much amateurism around the place in general, and certainly not a club geared up for Premiership football. Yes, we got 14 years out of being run like (and often playing like) a pub team, but whilst we kept arrogantly thinking that we could do things the same way year in year out, the rest wised up. The others knew they had to invest in stuff like stadia and a deep squad of players. Us? Well, we seemed to get by with sharing somebody else’s ground, because hey, it was cheap and it’s not as though we’ll ever go down is it? Come on, we’ll always be able to fit 20,000 away fans in at big games, bums on seats isn’t it? Players? Yeah, let’s sign people like Andy Roberts and Carl Leaburn because they’re cheap.
Oh, and Â£7.5m on JH which in hindsight may have been the worst thing we have done. Not by buying him, don’t get me wrong (even though I’m still puzzled at buying somebody with known weight problems and who was about to get the book thrown at him – was this another JK/SH dodgy deal special?), but by the amount we paid. It was like buying a Rolls Royce and parking it in the council car park next door to you. Suddenly we had a major signing on our books and I’m not too sure if the club was able to handle it. Puzzled by that? Think about it – we smashed the wage structure at WFC by JH’s signing, and you can’t tell me that those on lower wages at WFC were not exactly chuffed at that. For so long we had been running in one direction and then without planning for it we changed tack totally. Although things had been shit before JH turned up, I wonder if his arrival may have made things worse….
So, what am I trying to say? Well, in a nutshell, our priority next season is not promotion to the Premiership. Our priority next season is to make giant strides to professionalise the club. Now, you may not believe in that, but if you look at life from a Darwinist (or Thatcherite) viewpoint, you will fully understand why I said that. If you don’t, I’ll gladly justify it. We are effectively in the same position as Charlton were 10-15 years ago. No ground, dwindling fanbase, below-top-flight football. Now look at them, what they’ve got and what we haven’t got. They’ve got their own ground, and can keep any and all profits they make from it. We can’t. They’ve got a thriving and active fan base. We haven’t. They’ve realised that the only way that they can make strides is by actually building the club up, not blindly run it down. We’ve only just realised that. When people say that Charlton walked the first division last season, it was the culmination of many years of building up from (almost) nothing. If we got up next year, our amateurism would catch us out yet again and the fallout next time will be much harder (ask Forest).
Survival of the fittest? Yup indeedy. I am probably the least romantic WFC fan there is, and I firmly believe that the rose-tinted eras of selling to survive, the occasional upset, the nauseating Crazy Gang era should be doused in acid and burnt to a cinder. WFC in the past used to be what the Americans would term a “mom-and-pop” operation, meaning almost like your local cornershop. Nowadays, to compete with the big boys, we’re gonna have to run like them, and run ourselves much better. Not to say that we can’t still keep that Cornershop “friendliness”, but nowadays we’ll have to be much more business-like in our approach. Hell, my local cornershop changed to Spar a couple of years ago, went through a major refit, installed stuff like an ATM machine and actually made itself attractive to customers : I now go in there at least twice a week.
Am I being pessimistic? Nah, not really, just cautious. Remember, BRG has come out and said that he’s giving us three years to return to the Premiership – he says “hopefully” next season but you can tell it may not be the be-all and end-all. We’ve made a very good start on the training ground. Already there are plans for a new club shop (which may seem trivial to many but lack of one shows amateurism), and the hint that we’ll only be at SP for three more years speaks volumes. Even the Official Site is getting slightly better. But as I said earlier on – there is still much to be done. Witness the debacle over the Season Ticket application forms – I bet loads of people complained at not receiving one. Witness the way that some players are thinking of jumping ship. I am a firm believer that how you run yourself off the pitch enhances your chances of success on it : look at how Leicester have done after they won the WC for the first time. Look at how we slumped after we won the cup in 1988.
Premiership? Who needs it? I don’t, I don’t think the club really needs it at the moment. Besides, we need to teach Fulham a lesson.