It’s been a strange week. Really, it’s been a strange week. Whether it’s because we’re still laughing over Franchise’s demise or not I don’t know, but it’s been odd.
I suppose it must be because all of a sudden, we’ve had to get used to a new way of doing things at AFCW. This week, there have been plenty of transfer stories, yet absolutely jack shit on the OS. If anything, it got to the stage where AFCW should have seriously thought about linking the OS directly to the Wimbledon Guardian website. Anyway, today the club officially spoke about everything. Or rather, TB did. Before you continue, read here.
Digested all that? Lot to take in isn’t it? Very professionally done as well, which is always encouraging. With all due respect to our previous managers, this must be the first time our manager has come in, and stated “I want wingers”, or “I want a target man”. In short, a game plan.
While we’ve been promised a little lull in proceedings for at least a week or so, let’s reflect on what the AFCW 2007/08 squad looks like. The thing that strikes out most of all is how much it hasn’t changed. There was always the feeling that we would only have had about 2 players left that ended the season. And under DA, we probably would have. Right this minute, it’s almost as exciting finding out who’s new.
A cursory glance at the team that beat ETU a month or so ago (though that game feels a lifetime away now) shows that ten out of the starting eleven are still here as I type. LO’L is gone to try his luck professionally (and I hope he fucks Franchise up from the inside), both PL and RDS are seeking full time football as well, and SB and Steve Wales are gone full stop. The rest are signed up or have been asked to stay. That’s quite an impressive retention percentage.
Chances are we might lose SF as well (no reason, just a hunch), and I sure as hell hope that Andy Little stays, though his presence at the sponsor’s do gives us hope. But here’s a comparison to last year:
At the end of the 2005/06 season, when we lost to Fi$her, our starting 11 was : Little, Woolner, Sargent, Finnie, Frankie, Curley, Brennan, Garrard, PB, Battersby and the not-so-much-maligned Richard Butler.
At the beginning of the 2006/07 season, when we beat Carlshiton, our starting 11 was: Little, Wales, Haswell, Frankie, SB, Kersey, Rooney, Daly, RB, RDS and Byron Bubb. That’s about 3 players who finished the season who started the next season.
OK, it’s a bit of an unfair comparison, there might have been the odd injury etc, but that is one hell of an unsettled squad. I daren’t compare what happened in 2004/05, that seemed to be a new squad every month. If you look at what’s likely to start the season, it will look reasonably familiar to what ended at ETU. Sure as hell won’t just be three players remaining, I think we’ve kept four of the back line as it is. For a new manager with new ideas, the side still looks pretty intact.
I can’t be arsed to check the Aldershot site to research whether TB brought in lots of players during the season, but he hasn’t come with that reputation anyway. I think we all got worn out with DA’s approach which ultimately backfired. Remember the Darren Grieves saga? Getting shot of him and putting in a clearly fucking shite low on confidence Ryan Peters at a vital stage of the season may have fatally damaged our former manager.
As an aside, if we’re desperate for a target man, why not get DG back? True, he was ever only good as an off-the-bencher, but sometimes you need that. And if not, I understand Shane Smeltz got released by Halifax…..
Now, you’re probably looking at all this and wondering to yourself “Hang on, isn’t this squad a bit on the small side? And not in the Lilliput sense either?”. Yes, it is. I know we seem to have as many injuries per season as the average war, and 18 players could be stretched rather thin as the season goes on. As stated earlier, I don’t think TB will go down the DA route of buying in a whole new team in the space of 5 games. So what’s the plan?
With luck, it’ll be the traditional Wimbledon method of youth and reserves coming through the ranks. The likely promotion of Simon Bassey to first team is highly significant – he’s well liked and highly regarded in his coaching, and he knows the reserves better than anyone here. Why bring in two loanees when we have players lower down the ranks who actually know where KM is?
The youth teams have come on a bundle, and from what I saw of our reserves last year (ie one game) they looked lean, mean and occasionally fighting machines. Start nurturing them and we could be onto something.
One other thing has leapt out at me. For a guy who’s been here for less than a fortnight, TB doesn’t half seem to know who to keep and who to get rid of. How many would really disagree with 98% of what he’s done? OK, there’s arguments for and against getting shot of Steve Wales, or keeping Wes Daly, but that’s inconsequencial really. It does seem that TB has been watching us for longer than just the Bromley playoff game. Has he? Has he been picking DA’s brain about our squad, strengths and weaknesses? Or is it just sheer pot luck or intuition on TB’s part?
Whatever happens, keeping much of last year’s squad is good. Hopefully, we can tie down Andy Little, Paul Lorraine, RDS and Fergie to name but four. What I will say is this : I hope TB can scrub away the mentality that set in some way back from last season in this squad. That is the fear of losing matches. How many games did we draw? That to me is the big negative of retaining last year’s side. That’s where the apparent leadership qualities of Jason Goodliffe will need to come in. That’s where the ball winning proclaimation of Rob Quinn will need to come in. And that’s where the Marcus Gayle factor will really need to come into its own…
Can it be done? Well, if it isn’t, it ain’t for the want of trying….
Finally, shall I mention proceedings in a stagnant new town 70 miles away from here? I think I mentioned too much about them last time, and I don’t think you want me going on about it again do you? No, that would make me bitter and twisted.
Fuck it. As predicted by anyone with an IQ in double figures and above, which certainly leaves out any Franchise fan, as soon as Martin Allen got a sniff of an exit he scarpered. And boy, did he look happy to be at Leicester. Hardly surprising really, if the alleged meeting with him and some Colchester fans this season is anything to go by (sorry, can’t find a better link. If anyone could oblige…..)
The reaction in Frenzyville has been extra special. The thousands hundreds tens of loyal Frenzy fans has been unaminous in its condemnation of Allen. “Traitor” they screech. “How dare he?” they wail. My favourite one is the Mong who felt betrayed by Allen as he previously thought he was “MK through and through”. I suppose in the “How to be a football fan” manual that they were given a couple of years ago, saying you were [insert team] through and through was a sure sign that you were legit. Shame the manual didn’t say what to do when people started laughing at you.
Anyway, who’s lining up to replace Allen? I don’t quite know where this comes from, except I nabbed it off t’Other Site. It’s classic:
“The deal has been agreed for Allen to go with MK Dons getting a compensation package of around Â£150,000. He will be taking Whitbread, Doyle, Hockaday, Lewis and Bankole. Winkleman feels let down by Allen who had promised him he would see the job through. Winkie has received 20 applications from potential managers. The names being touted (although not necessarily in the list of 20 applicants) are: Micky Adams (who is apparently a friend of Winkieâ€™s), Mike Newell, Nigel Worthington and Paul Ince, Mike Dove, Alex Inglethorpe, Ian Atkins and Gary Megson”.
I just had to bold that bit. Reminds me of that Porridge episode when the celebrity football match was a children’s TV presenter and a local weatherman. Is that the sound of desperation I hear? It’s coming across as “Look at us! Look at us!”. Yeah, we’re looking at you. It’s close season, we’re bored, and it’s better than any sitcom.
Never mind, the Frenzies will always be all right, because they have Winkie. Muslims have Allah, Christians have Jesus, and the Frenzies have, urm…. Well, it’s not so much a pleb-deity relationship, more like cult follower-David Koresh. Anyway, the quote of the week came from the Frenzy who, in venting fury at Allen the Traitor said “Pete doesn’t tolerate failure”. Please, don’t laugh at them, it’s cruel.
Actually, Wankie doesn’t look in the best of health these days. At least if this is anything to go by [WARNING: NOT SAFE FOR WORK. OR HOME. OR PRISON]. We know he makes Bez from the Happy Mondays look straight edge at best, but that is seriously unhealthy. He even looks like a far-gone Cult leader. I know his followers will claim that the Great Leader is merely tired out from striving towards Heaven and the goods that will come upon the Believers. But for those of us who live on planet Earth, he looks creepier than ever.
I think the realisation of what’s about to happen has just hit him. Yeah, he’s got Â£150k from Leicester, but that will go PDQ into a massive black hole. Allen was only there because Wankie had one more year getting Asda’s money and went for shit-or-bust. Wankie is now on his own, more or less, with a half-built stadium that doesn’t even have half the car parking spaces, hotel and conference facilities apparently.
And worse of all for him, he now has a Frenzy fanbase that will be very demanding. They were force-fed to believe that by the time the WankieDome opened, they would be facing Manchester United. Instead, they’ll be facing Morecambe and Macclesfield. One sniff of a Wembley appearance and suddenly his followers demand it every year. And he knows he can’t deliver it for them. What will happen if they finally twig just how he’s fucked it up? Remember that list I printed just now? Somehow, it’s more likely to be Mike Dove than Mike Newell…
Anyway, I think that really is enough Franchise bashing for now, until they fuck it up next time. Last season was a difficult one for us, we were doing pretty ordinary and they were doing quite well. The free tickets were dished out a plenty and it seemed for once they had the upper hand. But perhaps predictably, we ended up in a far better state than they did. We’re visibly on the up. Can they say the same and mean it?
Meanwhile, I’m off. Playoff final tomorrow for me. In the Shrewsbury end as well, though my ticket has some other team on it as well. Maybe it’s some Northern pub-league side that they’re taking for a day trip to see what a crowd and real support looks like..