Just a few thoughts after getting “treated” to us losing 2-0 at the Met last night.
I know we shouldn’t read into the result that much, but by fuck that was bad. Even though we played some first teamers and a load of triallists, I think we should have shown something a little bit more in the game. In fact, it was only Jon Main’s lob (if you could call it that) that could have counted as an attempt. Oh yeah, our #9 in the first half, whoever he was, shot just wide. Don’t think we’ll be seeing too much more of him though.
It’s times like this though that you wonder if we’ve gone a bit too far with the triallists. I’m not going tonight, but expect another repeat of last night if you’re tempted to make the trip. Namely, the first half with some first teamers in, and the second half with absolutely nobody you can recognise. Suddenly, the tube trip seems just that tinsy winsy bit longer doesn’t it? I’m not so bothered with doing it this way, as long as we learn a lot from it. Trouble is though, judging by TB’s comments from last night I’m not sure we even did that. In fact, this comment concerns me even more than Lewis Taylor doing his knee in:
“To be honest I didn’t get anything out of today – it must have been hard to watch from a supporters’ point of view.”
Well, we did get something out of last night – another addition to the injury list. Though ironic that quite a few thought LT wasn’t quite up to it on Saturday. But right now, I can’t help thinking we’ve wasted an opportunity to get the first XI gelling a bit better. If you put a team of six proper first teamers and five fringe (ie the likes of Gilbert and triallists) then that would make sense to even a humble scribe like myself. But especially in the second half last night, I saw a bunch of 11 players who just didn’t know how to play with each other. It was the sort of game that really they should do on the training ground and save us die-hards Â£5 in the process.
Which is a shame, as I’m fully supportive of having not only a strong first XI (obviously) but a reserve and youth system as well. But we’ve effectively got less than 3 weeks after Brentford on Saturday to have a first team not only match sharp but to also know what they’re doing with each other. What I’d like to see now is get tonight over with, then come Saturday pick a proper nucleus and stick to it, putting in the most promising fringers and trialists in proper match situations. And not just for Brentford but for the other games as well. If we’ve got two games in the week, make one game a “proper” one and the other one for the type of team we had in the second half last night. Not only will that prepare us for Newport but also gives the fringers a chance to prove themselves properly.
Of course, all this could be the plan anyway, so we’ll wait and see…..
But my thoughts remain, I think we’ve done ourselves no favours whatsoever over this pre-season .I don’t think anyone was inspired that much by them anyway, but perhaps more than ever I wonder whether we should have at least one more big one. If only to force us to play a “proper” team. Next week you just know we’ll be splitting the sides again, and as last night showed, it’s just a waste of a fixture.
OK, PSFs aren’t for the fans’ benefit, but I’m sure even the players themselves would want a nice juicy fixture to get their teeth into. Most other clubs in our division “need” a top class friendly, because they don’t get our crowds throughout the season (so the theory goes anyway). But we sell ourselves short over this sort of thing – do we really do ourselves any favours by sticking this season to Ryman (and lower) sides, with just two sides higher than us?
It reminds me of the time when West Ham had an Intertoto cup campaign and had a better opening season because of that additional focus needed. Players themselves seem to get excited about games as well – if we’d arranged a fixture against, say, Stevenage, it would be something different for most of us, and a decent test for us to focus on
I’m prepared to accept that we might have had our hand forced this time round. We are “obliged” to play Ks (which is no big deal really), but also Tonbridge (again, fair enough) but also I believe Met Police and the return of Brentford and Salisbury. Next year, I really think we should go for a Conference North side instead of those in lower divisions. Maybe two games, one at KM and the other a long trip up norf.
As past friendlies against League sides have proved, they aren’t really all that. It’s not like Brentford will put out a full team themselves anyway (and they lost to Bromley last night as well). So we effectively have one game (Salisbury) that will create that level we need to bring ourselves up to, and IMO that’s not nearly enough. Can you imagine if we had a PSF against somebody like Southport or Harrogate Town? Certainly wouldn’t put a team of triallists for that……
Whether it would be Stevenage or Southport, we would already be preparing ourselves mentally into these big games without it being the end of the world if we lost. Can you really honestly say you’re excited about Tonbridge away? And if we’re not, why should the players be? OK, their attitude has to be different, and I’m not suggesting they won’t be anything other than prepared. But Newport will be playing Lids United, and even in a friendly they’ll be up for it.
They’ll have the advantage in preparation simply because they’ll be tuned in more for the big occasion come the season starting. For us, playing Newport away in deepest Cymru will be a bit of a baptism of fire, after playing the likes of Tonbridge, Ks and Walton Casuals. Whereas Dean Holdsworth would have tested his players against some real decent opposition and shown them what level they need to be at to compete. Newport won’t worry about playing us after Lids, but we’ll be more wary come the 9th of August. It’s a gamble, and one I’m certain we shouldn’t have taken.
If you think I’m talking bollocks about this BTW, look at the pre-season schedule for our Ryman One season (you know, when we pissed on everyone in sight). Dagenham and Redbridge, Brentford, Barnet, G&N, Harrow Borough and Ks – all of them were higher level than us at the time and I firmly believe that little lot put us in a far more competitive frame of mind. As the images of some pretty shit passing last night still linger in my mind, you’ll have to excuse me for feeling underwhelmed right now.
Of course, we’ll probably win our first 10 games in the CS now.
Few quick other things. Postponing Meet The Manager because Tempest failed to deliver the new kit on time isn’t a good start. And considering we’re one of their main clients as well. Personally speaking, I hope we’re constantly reviewing whether we’re getting the best deals for AFCW, and not just price wise either. After all, we were quick to drop New Balance and O’Neills when they weren’t supplying us properly. I really cannot imagine our commercial department being too happy with Tempest right now. If nothing else, it just looks bad – think of those who don’t know MTM has been moved (and I bet there are quite a few who will turn up this Friday at KM).
As this club progresses, we’ll need to take a more robust, dare I say more mature approach to this sort of thing. Lest we forget that Peterborough dropped Tempest PDQ………..
Elsewhere, Micky Haswell’s future is up in the air a bit. BHA have sent him back, but it seems like you can’t use trialists for more than two games anyway. Brighton haven’t said no, but they haven’t said yes either. It’s one of those things that I hope we get sorted quickly one way or t’other, because I don’t really want one of our players distracted like this even in pre-season. Especially in defence. Could be promising, could not for him. If he does go though, I hope we get a sell-on fee and maybe even a PSF.
Typically, as soon as I published this, up popped the SLP with MH. He’s staying with us after all. By the looks of it, BHA were being too non-committal for his liking, and bearing in mind he would have to arrange quitting his full time job I don’t blame him for making the decision. Guess we’ll see him back in AFCW colours tonight, or certainly on Saturday
One thing I didn’t mention from what I overheard last Saturday, the Main Stand’s extension will be finished in mid-September. That was always the plan, apparently, though I expect it slipped under most peoples’ radars. At least the building work doesn’t look quite so behind now. On this subject, could we actually play a game (even a friendly) without any seats available? While I assume that at least one block of seats will be available for Saturday, it could prove problematic for some people if not. Never quite sure of the regulations over this sort of thing, and we all know first hand what happens when we don’t get it right.
Finally, and if you’ve gotten this far you’ll be glad to hear that, I’m not at Brentford. Je suis en Paris. Therefore, no match report, and I won’t be able to put one up until Monday evening at the earliest anyway. Though if it’s the same as last night, I think you’ll be glad not to be reading it…………….