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While thinking what angle to approach Babies 1 Kiddies 2, I ended up watching Yernited v Arsenal in the FA Cup. As you do. As I watched how the Gunners threw away yet another trophy run, it occured how fragile they looked, how they have no bottle or mental fortitude to push on, and quite simply I can’t see how they can win the Premiership now – they look gone.

On writing that, it makes me realise that AFC of Norbiton Wimbledon is like the AFC of Highbury.

It looks like for the second season in a row, we are about to slump in form and at completely the wrong time. Forget the fact we pulled a goal back – we didn’t look like winning. When the ref put up seven minutes of injury time, we went backwards. For a team that is second in the league, to have been top for a great period of time, and who could still theoretically win the division to do that is just unforgivable.

Arsenal have a reputation for being powder puff bottlers, and as of today so are we.

We should get in the playoffs, but right now that’s not a cast iron certainty. We’ve played poorly today, we were apparently even worse at Grimsby, and the less said about Handy the better. Even the first 40 minutes against Alty was akin to our “performance” this afternoon.

We are not a title winning side, but I’m not sure if we’ll even get past the playoff semis right now. Something is wrong somewhere, and there’s no obvious answer why. It does seem that whenever Danny Kedwell doesn’t perform, we don’t perform. And he hasn’t really performed for ages.

Is he missing his best buddy Jon Main? If he is, then perhaps he ought to snap out of it. Is he knackered and running on fumes? It’s not like the other strikers are helping him – Main and Nokkers aren’t good enough, if they were they’d still be here. Drewe B is sadly showing just why he never sticks around anywhere for too long, and signing Delano Sam-Yorke must be some tax fiddle to keep our accountants happy.

Are we missing Hatton and Sam Moore? Moore is now out for six months, and boy were people in the Presidents Lounge agitated when he went down. Well, either that or there wasn’t enough caviar in there at half time. He’s been one reason why we’ve been up the top for so long, to lose him until at least October is a massive hammerhead of a blow.

Whatever the reasons, you can’t help but think that last year is going to repeat itself all over again. There’s that horrible feeling of impending doom about the place right now, that we’re just awaiting the inevitable slump. We should be looking forward to next Friday, but you just know it’s going to be one of the worst experiences we will face at a game.

Lose, and everyone there will let us know about it. We face some severe provocation in the upcoming days, we’d do well not to rise to it. Even if we win, it will only be a hollow victory because it won’t do anything to dent their lead over us. A draw? Meh. And as somebody put it today, it’s going to end up being a distraction.

Even when we finally get through that tie, you can only see us getting bogged down with more of the same shit. That’s what happened last season, and in truth the season we got promoted from the Ryman Premier. Just as winning becomes a habit, so does losing. And so does playing without any coherence or strategy or any sort of idea whatsoever.

Can this season be seen as a success? If we fall out of the playoffs, then no. Despite what others may claim, AFCW should be a side that qualifies for the playoffs each season. I don’t buy this attitude that we’re punching above our weight because we’re not. Or at least, we shouldn’t be.

We may choose to have a lower budget than other teams, which is why we have to get in more loanees at a reduced wage than we should, but that’s purely our own prerogative. We aren’t Rushden who are struggling to break even on crowds we would consider poor for an FA Trophy game. Nor are we Kiddie, who have had a five point deduction and aren’t in the best health off the field. They’re the kind of teams who are outdoing expectations. Not us.

We’ve been top for a lot of the season, and we should have at least held onto that lead a little while longer than we actually did. We should have made Crawley use up their games in hand on us, but we waved the white flag and gift-wrapped them the lead. That’s failure on our part. Playoff semis is the minimum we should be aiming for, although a playoff final would be seen as a good season.

So, what to do? God knows. I guess we should keep scrabbling to find any sort of form whatsoever, and hope that it somehow becomes good for us right at the time it really matters. We’ve not really been that special since October, so it would be nice to finally show what we’re surely capable of.

Just don’t hold your breath though.

Plus points: At least Lee Minshull scored.

Minus points: 1500 to 1700 GMT. Sammy Moore’s injury.

The referee’s a…: TB was having a right go at him at half time, so something must have been up. In truth, it’s never a good idea to slag off the official whenever you play poorly, because it just makes you look like Steve Evans. Even if the man in the middle today was a cock.

Them: There’s a bit of a sneaky suspicion about them when it comes to the playoffs. Namely, don’t be too surprised if they end up at Eastlands for the final. And no, I don’t mean their players will have bought tickets in the stand.

I saw them at Handy earlier this season, and although 4-0 sort of flattered them a little bit, they have a cohesion we clearly don’t possess right now. Yes, they had their usual Best Game Of The Seasonâ„¢ against us, if their manager’s interview afterwards was anything to go by. Then again,  most teams do. Be interesting to see their budget too.

Point to ponder: Are we now starting to see why Terry Brown never got promotion at Aldershot? In each of the seasons he’s been here, we have always managed to have poor run-ins. In the Ryman Premier, we stuffed the squad with loanees and nearly paid the ultimate price. Lady Luck was on our side that season in the end, lest we forget that it could have gone very, very wrong.

We got away with it, just about, in the CS title winning season, and even though we were by far the best team of that division we still managed to make it hard work. And the less said about January 2010 onwards the better – probably the worst slump in the AFCW era, and would have cause some concern in the WFC era too.

For the first time since he’s got here, I’m starting to doubt TB’s ability to take us to the next level. It’s happened far too often under his watch for it to be passed off as just “one of those things”. I won’t call for his head at the end of this campaign, but he really cannot repeat 2009/10 and what 10/11 is starting to pan out like next season. If this time around can be considered a failure because we don’t reach the playoff finals, then 2011/12 cannot see any room for error.

Does TB have the killer instinct that a manager needs to win promotion? You have to say that right now, he doesn’t. While he does have his hands tied with who he can bring in, to an extent, it does seem that for most games, we start off slowly. Not just this squad but others in the past as well. Only right now, we don’t seem to get out of that rut.

Harsh? Yes, but football is harsh. Especially professional football.  And TB’s remit is to get us into the Football League – he may “deserve” the chance to manage at that level, but you don’t always get what you feel you should get. It happened to Dave Anderson too – the playoff game against Bromley was a contest too far, and on that fateful night you could feel the ending of a chapter. TB’s own finale may not come this season, but for the first time, there’s question marks.

Don’t get me wrong, what he’s done since he got here is terrific, but to really build the club and squad up, we need to be in League Two. We’re not a Conference level club, our whole ethos is one that is a League side. He will get one more season to prove himself, and he certainly should get that chance, but it’s not just teams who find their level of ability out the hard way.

Of course, if we go up this season….

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) The Beveren fans, who totally misunderstood the point of going to games at KM by singing and generally enjoying themselves. (2) Also there was Chris Perry. There is no truth to the rumour that he was given a pair of boots at half time and told to play in midfield. (3) Only 20 seconds separated kickoff and the first ball to be kicked out of the ground. Shame there was a spare one.

Anything else? Apart from wondering if Beveren will give us a long-awaited European pre-season game in their country? Got to say, a trip abroad right now seems ever so tempting….

So, was it worth it? Fuck off.

In a nutshell: The collapse begins?