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Drenched in Malvern

It’s all gone back to 1998. Peter Mandelson is back plotting, Cadbury’s have re-released Wispa, Joe Kinnear is back making expletive-laden press conferences, and AFCW have treated us to a good old fashioned WFC-style fuckup. Even better, we managed to do it for the longest league away journey available with some of the shittiest travel conditions I can remember since, er, Newport….

To the neutral, Lea and Perrins 3 Mark and Lard 2 would have been a good open game. Struggling team runs away with it in the first 30 minutes, then the much fancied away side nabs a goal back, then a second with a good 25 minutes still left. For us, it was shit.

To let in two goals in the first 10 minutes killed the game off for us. Actually, I lie – the first goal after about a minute, when our defender decided to softly head back leaving Pullen more exposed than OJ Simpson’s arse in prison, killed it. We really didn’t recover from that – in fact, I really did write down that if we weren’t careful we’d be 3-0 down before we knew it. And lo and behold….

If you’re the sort of person who likes jabbing sharp pencils in your bollock sack, you can watch their second and third goals here. Whilst their third was a good strike, the fact that we just gave it to them makes it worse. Seriously, I’ve ranted on for a while about our defence being shit – now do you believe me? Lest we forget that they hit the post as well after Pullen again looked like somebody in goal for our supporters team.

What I saw yesterday was something out of the CCL. While the team generally has got better all round, our defence hasn’t moved on from RP level. Remember how brown-trousery our backline was a lot of last season, but back then the forwards of the opposition were shit so we (mostly) got away with it. Now we’re in a higher division, the attackers have a bit more about them and we’re being woefully exposed. It’s painful to watch, and not a little depressing.

I really have come to the conclusion we need a dedicated coach for the defence. I’m not sure whether it’s in TB’s remit, but he’s got enough to look after without supposedly experienced defenders like Luke Garrard, Inns, Judge and (on this performance) Jake Leberl playing like morons.

At H&Y, I thought it was just one of those days. This however wasn’t. We saw the clear warning signs at Bedford last week as well. Our defence will be the difference between us being in the playoffs and us facing off against Dover in the BSS next season. It’s not good enough. If it was, it could have ridden out a slow start and we probably would have won. But we didn’t. It’s all very well everyone staining their underwear in excitement over how well we played on Tuesday, how we were supposedly all fired up and buoyant for this game. Christ, we had a decent performance against a crap side in a division lower than us and everyone thinks we’re wonderful again?

We’ve hit a sticky patch, and for the first time this season I don’t know what the answer is. JM’s lack of goalscoring prowess will return. Form is temporary, and all that. I can’t fault DK. Are teams sussing us out? Sadly, it looks like it. But even so, that shouldn’t be such a problem in itself. I genuinely think we’re good enough to overcome that, but it would be nice to show it once in a while.

I’m pissed off not only because we lost, and needlessly so. But I’m pissed off for this as well : many will say that it was a good game, and we maybe deserved a point. Truth is, we got what we deserved. In the last 5 minutes, and indeed even less time than that, we just kept square passing the ball about at the back. Whatever happened to pressurising the opposition like in ye olden days? If we’d done that, instead of fartarsing about doing our impressions of Ray Wilkins, we might have got a draw out of it. But no – it was as though a decent long ball was just simply beneath us. I’ve got news for you – when we’re one goal behind with time running out, nothing is beneath you. Hell, you got us into this mess, now you fucking go and get us out of it……

Truth be told, I dunno. I haven’t even thought about Dover, but right now a decent FAC run sounds like the thing we should be looking forward to (bet we manage to fuck that up as well now), because right now I can’t see where our next league win is coming from. Seriously, I can’t. We’ve actually been playing like this for a while, and now our luck has run out we can’t seem to cope. OK, that’s a tad too harsh, and on another day we would have come away with at least a point. But it’s as though our winning start has crippled us for the remainder of the season. That expectation level has probably set us back for this season.

Still, if you want to cheer yourself up a little, do the following : take the M25 anti-clockwise no further down than Heathrow. Just drive until you see the sign for Staines. Then tell yourself that at least we’re in the BSS. Suddenly, it won’t feel nearly as bad. Unlike reading….

Plus points: Discovering the West Midlands has Kerrang FM.

Minus points: Everything else.

The referee’s a……..: I’ll let everyone else disect his “performance”. Had we’d lost this 1-0 I really would have gone to town on him – he refused to give us hardly any fouls, and even had difficulty giving us throw-ins. Sometimes, you just can’t win with 12 men opposing you. But the bottom line is, he didn’t cost us the game….

Them: Took advantage of the gifts we gave them, and probably deserved the win for that alone. Don’t think pound-for-pound they were better than us though, but then they did the simple things well enough that were clearly beyond us. Even down to the timewasting after about 35 minutes. Thought they were a club in turmoil? Didn’t seem to be, they looked quite a unified organisation. Still, appearances can be deceptive – some think we’re playoff contenders. One other thing – how the fuck do they cope with 3h+ trips almost every away game? OK, I imagine that the ones in the West are quite straightforward enough, but I wouldn’t fancy going from there to Eastleigh anytime soon. And they didn’t even get Redditch to play with….

Point to ponder: JM got subbed again. Is the time coming for him to be “rested”? Especially as Belal is now waiting in the wings. That said, I’m still of the belief that he should continue to play – remember that he did blast over the bar from 3 yards out yesterday, and one day they’ve got to go in. What good is sitting him on the bench? Unless you believe that he’s still struggling with that foot injury he picked up earlier…..

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Five hours to get from there to SW19 Towers coming back. Just to remind you what the realities of travelling away are like. Mind you, I had an offer of a train trip (bloody pre-9am start though) and that ended up getting in at 2245. Guess I got luckier than most. (2) Did we really play that badly in the first 30 minutes? (3) Their bell, or rather the little tingly thing that they used to give the effimate kids in school music lessons. That and Amarillo and the fucking “Easy” chant they do. (4) Seeing the Worcester (rugby) ground off the motorway. And here was me thinking yooniun was far better than us lowly football oiks – I’ve never seen such a bland looking stadium in my life. And I’ve been to Pride Park.

Anything else? Yes, Miss Worcester “singing” a Celine Dion track at half time. You read correctly – and you thought our day wasn’t going to get any worse. Needless to say, she was shite and was asked to stop singing and just get her waps out. Here’s what she looks like, just in case she obliged. Katherine Jenkins she certainly ain’t – proof here, and here. Here as well.

Why? Seriously, why? Is this what passes for entertainment in the parochial provinces of England? The West Midlands gave us Ozzy Osbourne, Jasper Carrott and Rob Halford, but is now reduced to some slapper murdering a Celine Dion number in front of 1500 embarrassed listeners. Yes, I know murder and the Canadian warbler is something perfectly acceptable, but it was almost to provoke us into a reaction. Then again, the PA insisted on play Amarfuckingrillo every time they scored and to cap it all off – Boogie Wonderland twice in the half time break. It really was that kind of day.

Bring back the marching bands or the RAF display dogs you used to get at half time. At least the canine shit wouldn’t smell so bad as our defending.

So, was it worth it? Yes, I really enjoy spending eight hours driving across the country, in shitty weather, to stand in an open terrace of a crumbling stadium to watch us happily smash our own ankles in with a hammer and gift the opposition the easiest goals they’ll ever score this season. More please.

In a nutshell: I feel like OGEM…