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There’s no other way to describe Nestle 0 Rowntree Mackintosh 1 is there?

In about 94 minutes worth of play, we had one piddly little effort on target. Plenty of running around, of course, but not much else. We’ve gone from a upper-to-mid-table side to a distinctly mid table one. Only trouble now is, we could very quickly find ourselves a lower-table side too.

Although our recent form suggests we’re half-way there already.

Yes, I know we’ve got a young side. I know it’s the Learning Curveâ„¢. I know it’s the Conference and things aren’t nearly as easy as they were in the BSS. I know we’ve suffered from Huss leaving, more than we care to admit. I know that York are a decent side. And I know that we won’t get it all our own way.

But don’t pretend to me that you’re happy with that “performance”.

If people are content to see us constantly produce games where we have to constantly come back, where we start off poorly and/or go downhill as the game goes on, we’re in shit. Big shit. And we’ve been like that since FGR, which was the last league game we won.

Yes, we have bad patches, but at some point you’re supposed to get out of them. Right now, it looks like we can’t. Take today – once their goal went in, you could sense the heads dropping. We just didn’t look remotely close to scoring. It looked a tired team that just didn’t know what to do. It didn’t know how to break down their defence. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say it whithered and died at Theme Park KM (the place where every visitor goes home happy).

Barrow last week should have jolted everyone, but it hasn’t. Indeed, look at our form, not including cup games: LLLDL. The “D” being Barrow of course, and in truth that should have been an “L” too.

A good quote I’ve read tonight is that this season is a learning one, and we have a lot to learn (from an SW19 contributor too, thanks 911…). I think the time has come for everyone (this site included) to put the Learning Curveâ„¢ excuse theory to bed for a while. The more we use it, the more we don’t deal with the problems we now have. It allows us to excuse being mediocre, which from what I’ve seen today is not an unfair tag to use.

And when you’re being lenient over poor performances, you shouldn’t complain when you’re looking over your shoulder at the Conference trap door. Yes, I am mentioning relegation. Yes, it’s way too early in the season to mention that word, and a run of games without losing (together with a few proper performances to boot) will propel us upwards. But this is relegation form right now.

Winning just two games at home when you’re approaching December is relegation form.

Constantly going behind and constantly having to fight back is relegation form.

Losing your ability to win away is relegation form.

And if you refuse to accept the criteria above as relegation form, the second half today will certainly make you change your mind.

Fortunately, we are at least in a position to do something about it. TB’s interview later on will reveal that he’s looking to bring in a left back – on loan if we have to – sooner rather than later. I don’t think DD will do it somehow, and I get the impression TB and co were let down a little bit by Nathan Ashton. Having Quiche and BJ back as the Twin Towers in defence will help at least.

I do think we’ll see some transfers in come January. For all the talk of saving it for a rainy day/pay the debt off etc, this is where it really matters. It’s the real reason why you’re here (supporting AFCW of course. You’ll have to ask your parents for the other meaning of that statement). Again, that’s another flip side of the Learning Curveâ„¢ reason – some people assume that it means you shouldn’t buy players and give the youngsters a chance.

No, what it means is that you give them a chance to shine but you put in stronger players where necessary. That’s what a Learning Curveâ„¢ is – finding out what you need to do, and act upon it. Right now, we need a new left back. A genuinely good one, too. Whether it will tie in with what TB has set out to do youth-wise I don’t know, but it’s a position that needed sorting out yesterday. We don’t need to replace the likes of Gregory. We do need to replace Chris Hussey. I believe the phrase is called “pragmatism”.

Otherwise, what do we really learn? That some of our younger players just can’t hack it? Great for the win/loss column, eh? Like many, I think we need a Marcus Gayle/Jason Goodliffe type figure just to help the youngsters out in games like this. That may or may not be on the agenda come January. Again, our players may learn from today, but they also need somebody to tell them what they have to learn and how to deal with it. It’s like being at school and you have to learn woodwork – you may know how to pick up a chisel eventually, but you still need the woodwork master to show you how to avoid hitting it into your thumb.

The trouble is now we have to beat Ebbsfleet. And they’re doing shite right now, which makes it doubly harder for us. See, you can play an Oxford (or a York) and you probably expect them to cause you problems. But we’re expected to win on Tuesday. And we’ve got precious little confidence that we can.

There is pressure on us to win that game, and if we don’t that confidence could sink below a point from which we may never recover from for a while. We’ve ransacked our home form to the point that you just know we’ll go a goal down again against Ebbsfleet and yet again try and salvage something. It’s as though we’re just not capable of giving ourselves any chance in games right now. If we were a boxer, we’d keep hitting ourselves before the bell sounds.

I suppose what makes this worse is that we all know we’re not a bad side. Opposition managers always seem to say (unprompted) in interviews that we’re a decent outfit anyway. I always believe that in football, the worse side to watch is a decentish side playing badly, because it’s just so frustrating. If you’re shite, then fair enough. If you’re good, you can put up with the odd blip. But we’re better than what we are at the moment. At least, I hope we are.

Oh, and if you want a match report, it’s all in the second paragraph of this write-up. Yes, it was that bad….

Plus points: The final whistle blowing.

Minus points: How long have you got?

The referee’s a….: I’m not going to make him a scapegoat for our inepitude, but fuck he made the cunt who refereed Ireland in the week look semi-decent.

Them: Maybe a dark horse for promotion this year? We couldn’t handle them anyway. Really seemed to be quite niggly and gobby in the first half, to the point that at least two of their players were talking themselves into red cards. Their #16 got booked for “simulation” and kept yakking away at the officials at half time. Then again, their manager obviously told them to shut up and let their football do the talking after the restart…

Fair few of them turned up, certainly more than the 400 the OS reckoned would. Can’t say I can remember the last time our fans in the KRE were shunted to make more room for the away fans (and yet another reason why KM is inadequate for the level we’re at now). The ones directly behind the goal were more entertaining than the game anyway, bouncing up and down in something I believe is termed “goonage”. Either that or it was the result of a dodgy curry.

Oh, and what did that “JR 04” banner mean?

Point to ponder: Or more accurately today, a quiz question. When was the last time we went ahead in a game? Give you 30 seconds to answer it…………………

Got the answer? Good. Award yourself some Franchise loyalty points if you said FGR, which coincidentally was the last game we won. QED, and all that. And even then the defence went AWOL for the first half.

It’s worrying that since Chris Hussey left, we’ve really slipped backwards – to almost dangerous levels. Rather naively, I believed that other players would step up to the plate and stake their claim. Not only has that not happened, our confidence has plummeted. No, I don’t know why either, if you do – and you have a remedy – phone up AFCW’s offices before Tuesday and ask to speak to the manager.

The question must be asked – does this current squad have the character to get out of this rut? If we repeat on Tuesday what we repeated today, then it’s quite obvious that we haven’t. And that should scare the breathing fuck out of you.

Meet the manager: In the KM weight room today, which isn’t much bigger than the TE bogs. Anyway, here he is…

TB on the York defeat

Sorry about the quietness of the recording (and my coughing). Anyway, he seems pleased with the effort put in, though it was interesting to hear him talk about us “playing with a man short” following Hussey’s departure. He doesn’t seem to be panicking, although it’s noteworthy that for the first time in this run of form, he’s openly talking about loan signings.

Oh, and I notice he didn’t entirely answer my question about whether we’d be keeping Luis Cumbers past this month…

Three’s a crowd: 4016, and as quiet as Morden library when it’s shut. I don’t know whether it was the shit weather, or yet another “one of those days” but nobody seemed up for it. Do we have a sixth sense that we know we’re going to do badly before the game starts? We’re all aware of how poor the KM accoustics are at the best of times, but last week at Barrow should have destroyed that theory.

I know I often say that people go to football to “get away from it all”, especially when it comes to matters of getting people involved in running AFCW, but unfortunately we’re proving Pullen’s comments true. Do we have enough to fight for, to get behind our team? Are we simply too happy to have a club?

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) They had a player called Michael Gash. The most popularly named player in football since Danny Shittu. (2) “Fucking hell, you are fucking shit, and we’re fucking worse” – the bloke behind me as York put a three-point conversion over the TE end right at the end. More amusing than the game, anyway. (3) Tony Finn in the crowd, apparently. Cue tabloid-esque transfer speculation, although I’m more tempted to believe with his legendary timekeeping he’d just arrived for a game scheduled for last March. (4) Our home form. Just strange, and not particularly funny either.

Anything else? Yes. At some point, somebody will inevitably come up with a comment that about four years ago this weekend we were playing some backwater place and scraping a draw out of it, and we should realise how far we’ve come (for the record, four years ago we were playing Dulwich Hamlet in Ryman One in front of 3,000 people. During the 78-game run. And we won 2-0. Didn’t think it would make you feel better).

While there is a temptation to look back (and we all do it from time to time), in a way that’s a bit of a false comparison to make. Why? Because times change – we live in the now, which is what everyone should do. Yes, we may think that beating Dulwich 48 months ago somehow excuses “performances” like today, but it doesn’t. All that does is prove what a winning mentality we had back then.

Us being in the RP way back when has absolutely no correlation with us losing 1-0 to York today. Our standards are higher, or at least it should be. If we’re going to use the term “perspective”, we should instead be comparing games from earlier in the season (or, if we somehow escape relegation this year, games in the same division from the year before).

The Ryman and the CCL and even the BSS to some degree was another era. Our apprenticeship if you prefer. I occasionally watch Football Hurts and I’ve got to say, I don’t recognise the club nearly as much as I used to. We’ve moved forward very quickly, and there’s a good reason for that – we were never in the right level for the club/ability for so long. Now, we are…

So, was it worth it? Nope. Fuck off.

In a nutshell: Have a break, have a quick crap.