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AFC Wimbledon? Who are they?

Oh come on, you must have all seen the advert by now…


OK, it’s predictable, but so is writing about yet another defeat. I managed to rope in 911 Womble to write a report on yesterday, my thoughts from afar are after the lines…

The Christmas Panto season was in full swing at Theme Park KM (CRRS). Dick Whittington started on the Broadway on Friday and it seemed to find its way to KT1 a day later.

On the basis that Accrington had not won away all season and the home crew had not witnessed a league win since DK’s return on 1st October you felt something had to give (yup, I know we won away at Morecambe).

Pre match nerves were founded on the lack of wingers but the feeling was that even with the festive formation (451 Christmas tree ) the 11 still had enough in them to get the job done. Well, they didn’t and frankly even if they were still playing the goals for tally would be 0. Wellard’s shot on 60 mins was our first of the match and only 2 others followed. In total one shot on target all match pretty much sums up the performance.

Where to begin? Well, Sticky 0 Taccy 2 was a fair reflection of the match. They set themselves up to do a job and had done their homework. Stifle Sam Moore and let Wellard and Hatton spray it around as much as they like because it won’t cause any trouble. We seemed devoid of ideas in the final third of the pitch. Passing it like Arsenal in your own half is fine, and if you are good enough to do it in the opposition’s half then that’s also fine. But we are not good enough for that so let’s get real. We needed some width but with Jolls and Doolally on the sideline then it was always a big ask for rest to push forward.

We had barely touched the ball and they went down our left flank – a simple over lap and an innocuous cross that somehow trickled in. From the Tempest End it was difficult to see if it was a clever poachers goal or another howler from the defence. No doubt the telly will show us. So we do our usual push for 5 minutes and try to get back in it. 20 minutes later and its déjà vu. Another cross down our left side and again the ball evades our defence and we are 2-0 down. Again the telly will show us where the blame lies.

Plan B……except there is no Plan B or C for that matter. That’s where we are right now. Not unlike our friends in Euroland. Keep believing the Euro will work and hope that enough people save it. Except we are in free fall.

Top 3 in September and now 17 th and with the fixture list for the next 4 matches not offering any help our best option is for the Macclesfield match on 7 th Jan to become victim of an FA Cup match. Reinforcements will be demanded in January and sad as it is to report but a number of current players appear to be playing themselves into the “needs to go out on loan“ list. The aftermath of another home debacle is not the time for listings, however Guestbookers will no doubt be compiling their own lists of who is not up to scratch.

Plus points: Sammy Moore would have to miss the rest of the season if he is not to win Player of the Year Award. Another solid display from Callum at the back and the usual “he put in a good shift” from Jack upfront. Apart from that, Haydon being selected as an Olympic torch bearer was as good as it got all afternoon.

Minus points:  No need to discuss the defence here as enough has been said in the last few weeks. MMK was on the bench so getting closer to an appearance and the worry is that we pray that he has the ability to pull us out of the rut we are in. Yes, it’s a rut now as the “Learning Curveâ„¢” bit is wearing thin. The much derided Bush was not on the pitch and 2 simple goals from our left side suggest that its not him to take all the wrap for the last few weeks. 3 shots all match, at home, against a team in 17th at the start of the day. Nuff said really, just shows that we need some inspiration from somewhere. And soon.

The referee’s a… : The fella in the programme was not on display and the chap in the black was C. Boyeson. He upset the home fans with a few early decisions but overall can’t be blamed for the result or the performance. 2 bookings apiece and generally kept it going. Seemed to be plenty of injuries throughout the match yet there was only 3 mins added in each half. Frankly we didn’t need any more as we weren’t going to score.

Them: A solid outfit with some big bruisers and one or two in the middle of the park that we could have done with. Plenty of no nonsense football and had us chasing shadows in midfield for periods. However they won’t come up against a team with such inept defending every week so can’t see them pushing for a top 7 slot despite being in the playoffs last term. 99 of them made it down together with a drum that seemed to bang on for most of the match. Fair play to them and although they are financially in a bit of a mess they seemed a decent bunch. Every prospect that they will be down at Panto land again next season.

Point to ponder: If the management are to shuffle the pack in January will that mean a change in playing style or just personnel? I was in a cab this week driven by an Arsenal fan (they always seem to be late at night ) and he was very clear that winning trophies playing boring football is always better than playing fancy stuff but winning nothing. This season we will finish in our lowest ever league position (probably) however I would still rather be in the Football League playing Accrington than up at Kenilworth Road playing Luton in the BSP or at FGR away

Three’s a crowd: 4053 including the 99 from Accyland. Not the lowest home league crowd this season (which bizarrely is still Cheltenham) but certainly lowest away support. Considering the show that was put on, not a bad result for the money counters. To be fair they made as much noise as the home contingent.

Anything else? Anything that can either defend or attack in boots will do

In a nutshell: Whats Plan B ?

If there are any positives to come out from something that seems to be universally seen as dire, it’s that it’s now been literally brought home to us how poor we are right now. Any belief that things will get better with this current approach has been well and truly scuppered, and with luck it’s given a couple of people a sleepless night or two.

Many observations have made since the final whistle blew, including many, many harsh words about Jamie Stuart. If people really were hoping he got sent off then things must have been bad. And for the first time I can remember, people are openly questioning the manager and his ability to suitably change things.

There was one comment I had from somebody who doesn’t really watch or support us, but went yesterday anyway. Their observation is one that I haven’t heard or seen mentioned elsewhere, but may be as telling as anything else.

They couldn’t believe how slow we looked.

Now, out of sorts, clueless, naive etc etc you can expect. But slow? I don’t know if that was a direct reference to Jamie Stuart, or the whole team, or whether it was referring to mental as well as physical aspects, but to be considered anything but quick suggests there may be more troubles fundamentally than we want to admit.

If we are slow, then does that mean our fitness is not up to scratch? These are young players, not a bunch of labouring has-beens either. Just what do we do during training? Or afterwards?

Should fitness not be the issue, then is it between the ears? Or perhaps we’re finding out just how woefully underprepared our close and pre-season campaign proved to be? I know our hand was forced to a degree by the Carling Cup prelim game, but looking at us playing Slutton, T&M, Beckenham Town and two just-got-back games against Fulham and Watford that while pleasing to win didn’t give us the workouts we needed.

Had we managed to get some L1/Conference level games, we would have been able to spot the obvious weaknesses a bit earlier and still done something about them. As it was, we went into the Crawley CC and Brizzle Rovers games with our eyes effectively closed, and we all know what happened there. While we picked up a little bit, yesterday sounded more typical of how we play and who we are right now.

We lost the element of surprise that all newly promoted teams had after the Gills game, and as a result we’ve since become a very easy side to get points off. It appears that our confidence is shot, and for a team that got promoted on the back of a confident, cohesive unit being more than the sum of its parts, that is a very worrying sign indeed.

And now TB has a bigger rebuilding job next month than he should have needed. During the close season, this site banged on about how many out-of-contract players there were knocking about. This time round, I bet half of them who we could have had aren’t available, or will cost more. Even Alex Ferguson this week said that it’s harder to buy the better players in January, and as Nathan Elder and Drewe B have proven in the past, we don’t often get it right during the season…

Still, our manager does recognise he has to do something. While the “threadbare” excuse is a bit, well, threadbare (a competent L2 side should at least be able to deal with it to a degree), he knows he has money to spend. He mustn’t panic buy, nor must he continue to convince himself he can sign crocks on the cheap and get Mike Raynor to magically heal them.

If it means we have to push our wages-to-turnover to 60%, so be it. It will be a small price to pay just to buy us the (st)ability we so desperately need to bed down and be a reasonably decent L2 side. Clubs that struggle year in, year out, eventually go down, so let’s erase that bad habit while we still can.

There are some longer term issues that will need to be addressed, like how long we can justify allowing Stuart Cash and Simon Bassey to remain part-time coaches. Personally, I think they should both be given an ultimatum in the summer – commit to us full time or we’ll replace you. And yes, it might break up a management team that has gotten us from the RP to L2, but you can’t say it’s worked so well in a fully professional league…

But that can wait. The main priority is to get out of this rut, and as 911 said to stop using the Learning Curveâ„¢ as an excuse. We’ve gone past that stage now, we need to be professional in every aspect of the club and if it means a painful cull then needs must.

We know it only took nine years. I don’t want it to turn into it only taking nine months.