A few more random thoughts from Barrow, now I’m reaclimatising to being back down south.
– We haven’t heard much from TB about the performance, apart from what he came up with for the Surrey Comet :
â€œIâ€™ll be happy if they continue to produce that level of performance.â€
I wouldn’t, especially that first half performance. Come to think of it, it was pretty iffy in the last ten minutes too.
I do suspect that deep down, TB is writing this season off as far as the playoffs go. Barring a magical formula that propels us upwards from January onwards, this side doesn’t have it at the moment. Why? TB continues :
â€œBarrow played very well in the first half but the second belonged to us. We have a really, really young side and weâ€™re learning all the time.“
Bold bit mine. If we don’t see much transfer activity in January, then this will be the reason why. Plenty have been saying that we need a hard bastard in midfield/experienced pro/exciting winger etc etc. That may be on the shopping list of our management team, but I guess we’re prepared to suffer these sorts of performances at the moment simply as part of the Learning Curveâ„¢.
Which in itself is fine, but it can also backfire. Remember, we haven’t won in the league in over a month, and it doesn’t seem that we’ve learnt how to start games properly. Did the Hussey transfer really take more out of us than we want to admit?
Or is this all a deliberate ploy for the January transfer window? As I just mentioned, I think TB is writing this season off already, and it’s only the Comet report and some guestbook comments that are expecting – nay, demanding – a playoff berth. We’re certainly not ready for one at this stage, though whether that will be the case in March remains to be seen.
– Thinking about that last comment, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another Wellard type individual (ie raw but talented) signed up in a couple of months. Give them the rest of the season to come in, adapt to the division and the squad, and then come out fighting for the 2010/11 campaign. Barring a collapse in results, we shouldn’t go down (and we have enough in the tank to buck our ideas up if that looked remotely threatening) and we can afford in both senses of the word to do that.
For that reason alone, maybe we shouldn’t expect an experienced old hand to be joining us after all? Unless a Marcus Gayle figure pops up who’s willing to be a mentor, that is. Again, I think such a signing isn’t one of TB’s priorities – he clearly wants this team, this unit, to learn from its own mistakes and be better for it. An old hack may disrupt that…
– Speaking of oldies, what to make of Neil Sullivan’s comments this weekend? Personally, I think it’s just his bon mots getting taken out of context and made into a totally different story, but you never know. Maybe this is the exception to the rule?
– As for our main keeper, Pullen is out for a good six weeks following his ankle scan. I wonder how many of our less forgiving fans are muttering “karma” at this news? Whatever, this is another blow on the injury front, and we’re now taking deep breaths over whether Seb Brown can stake his claim. FWIW, I don’t think he did too badly on Saturday, and he could be a player who simply grows into the role and won’t get displaced for two years. So, watch York put five past him at the weekend…
– Another injury. Alan Inns this time. He’s been our best defender recently, although looking at our results that’s a bit like saying you’re the best comedian to come out of Luxembourg.
For those who like to come up with theories in football, here’s another one for you : the phenomenom of a team playing badly whenever a certain player plays well. Innsy has been playing some good stuff at a time when we can’t get a result. He was injured when we were having our good run of form. QED? Suppose the same could be said about Jon Main – ever since he’s started scoring goals again we haven’t been winning….
Anyway, Ben Judge is now back. So we should be top by about January.
– Finally, I think this must have been the first time this season where I’ve gone to the game and finally treated it as an ordinary, run of the mill contest. The euphoria of promotion is now gone, the FAC and all its spinoffs is over for another year (we’ve had our cup final), and we’re settling into being a mid-table side.
And it’s liberating in a way – we can talk not about whether we need to get promoted to maintain crowd sizes, but whether or not we need a hard man in midfield. For the first time this season on Saturday, I felt like I could just concentrate on the game without having to deal with the extra baggage supporting AFCW. It was, to put it bluntly, fun.
The talk was about getting trains back, of ultra-sore arses following 7 hour coach journeys, of Seb Brown and Ross Montague. Or of the text conversations about how shit it was without DK up front. It was enjoyable, and we could do all that without somebody fussing that we haven’t joined the Dons Trust or we need to fund a new stand or something.
Yes, I know we have more stake in our club than most, but Saturday proved a valuable lesson without us realising it. Football is meant to be enjoyable, whether on the pitch or the fun off it. A lesson I believe plenty at AFCW should learn….