There’s only so many times you can write the same thing over the last eleven games or whatever it is. I was going to ignore the latest meek surrender by a non-league side trying to play in the Football League, but then I remembered this gem from a few years ago.
It’s from Neil Warnock, and while the whole thing is worth watching anyway, if you watch between 6:33 and 6:49 then this is exactly how I feel at the moment :
For those with shit internet connections, swear filters, impatience or for those who don’t speak Northern, here’s a (almost verbatim, apologies for any minor errors) transcript that could easily apply to AFC Wimbledon in 2012:
Warnock: That is the worst half of defending, that’s got to be the worst half of defending, so we’ve got to put them under pressure, haven’t we, and not let them get out. The first goal here, he’s got time…
Player: I know, I know, I know
Warnock: Oh jesus, how many times have we heard “I know I know, I fucking know”?Â We don’t want you to know, we want to fucking stop it out here…
Read that transcripted bit again, and with it the bit you might have spotted as well. Poignant in both its simplicity and its relevance…
“We don’t want you to know”.
Right now, whenever I hear a TB interview, or a player speak, or indeed anything to do with AFCW, I have this burst of exasperation by Colin Wanker* in my head. Any interview, any talk of transfer signings, anything to suggest that we really are going to pull out of this shit, and I hear a South Yorkshire voice that has dealt with some thick cunt of a player once too often.
* – for those who have been living under a rock since Doomsday, Colin Wanker is an anagram of Neil Warnock. Yes, really.
Last night, TB said on the OS that he’s got to bring in some experienced players. Now, I don’t doubt his sincerity, and I don’t think he intentionally spins us a yarn most of the time (although I think he does big up transfer dealings to placate the supporters on occasions), but until he actually brings them in and we see their cheesy grin on the OS (er…) I find it hard to believe he’ll do it.
Don’t misunderstand me, I want to be proven wrong big time on this, but his transfer dealings in the summer – and his admittance before Swindon that he got turned down by a player within hours of the window opening – don’t inspire me right now. It’s fair to say that with the exception of Jack Midson (and possibly GG and MMK if they weren’t so permanently crocked), his signings didn’t improve the squad.
That was probably sheer naievity on his part though. I suspect a manager with more Football League experience (as in, somebody who has actually managed there before) wouldn’t have signed Max Porter, Ademeno, Chris Bush and possibly James Mulley too, and would have got rid of Jamie Stuart as well.
As Wanker may have put it, I don’t want TB to know he’s got to change the squad, I want him to go and do it.
The players got a little bit of stick on Twatter yesterday, and needless to say they didn’t particularly like it. Yes, because we really enjoy going however many games without a victory, don’t we? Sounds like a few egos got a bit dented somehow. In fact, Kieran D wrote the following:
If u don’t believe in me and my team-mates UNFOLLOW me!!
I’m sure he’ll be devastated to find out I’m not following him any more. Ditto all the other players…
See, Warnock’s quote applies to our current squad most of all. In fact, I can imagine a few of them being told a few home truths about their play by TB in a dressing room and them muttering “I know I know I know”. A cursory glance at our results suggests that they don’t.
While the jury is still out on TB being a Football League manager, we can safely reach a verdict on the squad. It’s not good enough. It didn’t seem to learn at all from the opening ten games about concentration and making individual mistakes. Once it lost the element of surprise in the division, and it had to rely on its collective talent, it went backwards.
This squad has collectively failed to make the step up to League football. Its high point was on a sunnyish day at Eastlands on the 21st May 2011, and it’s never been that high since. True, we lost DK and Gregory, and Mo, and it’s TB’s fault that he still hasn’t adequately replaced two of them (at time of writing), but its time has been and gone.
One could argue that getting promoted – and a few early season bits of luck – went to their head too. Perhaps part of the reason why we’re lacking in confidence is that having reached what they thought was footballing immortality, they’ve since been found out and are possibly thinking they’ll never reach that perfect equilibrium of May 2011 again?
Which to be honest, they won’t. Squads can and do reach a sell-by date, and ours got reached in the middle of October (I would say that the same would have happened in the Conference had Luton gone up instead of us, albeit taken a bit longer). It’s now obvious that this squad needs to be broken up, and fresh blood put in.
But I’ll go one step further – it deserves to be broken up. Many of these players have had one of the very few chances they’ll ever get to play in the Football League, and some simply haven’t taken it. As Roy Keane said in his autobiography, nobody is irreplacable, especially him.
I saw Aldershot v Plymouth on the day of us surrendering to Southend, and I can’t see a lot of our squad making even Argyle’s bench. Assuming we do get some players in, some will inevitably get shipped out, and I’d be very interested to see who signs them. Look at the ones we culled in the summer (as opposed to the ones we cashed in on) and where they ply their trade now. Can you even name where most of them ended up?
If we buy properly this month – and as said earlier, it’s a pretty big “if” – then all we will remember some of the current squad for is Eastlands. We’ll get some new heroes in, especially if they make an immediate impact, and we start getting excited about AFC Wimbledon : Football League version.
And yes, it is the end of an era now, and of course that’s always going to be bittersweet. I’m sure we all wanted the people who gave us that great day in May 2011 to give us more. But it’s not meant to be now, and it may have taken the last two months for the majority of fans to accept it, albeit reluctantly.
So we move on, and one senses that we’re in put-up-or-shut-up mode now. The vibe since we lost yesterday feels different, certainly different to other post-game vibes within the last few weeks, as though there really is the current QPR manager yelling in our ear.
Who should we sign? The rumour mill is speculating a right back from Chelski, which is probably wide of the mark. As if Terry Brown would ever sign a defender. But even just three or four (regularly starting) experienced players will likely have a positive effect on us.
Despite everything written about in the past two months, we do have some decent players in Jack Midson, Seb Brown and Sammy Moore, together with “put them in a decent side and they’ll be better” like MMK, Jolley and possibly Wellard.
If we can add another four (preferably six, but realistically that won’t happen at this time of year unless we get in loanees), that should stabilise us, get some much needed confidence under our belt and help dilute the very real problems we have currently. I believe we need to do a lot of rebuilding in the summer anyway, and that might mean looking at TB’s tenure, but our priority from now until May is staying in the Football League.
If the club reads this (and I know it does on occasions, usually to tell me that I’m talking bollocks), I suggest you stop TB saying anything about transfers until they’re signed. There’s a useful two-week cooling off period now, and it feels like the longer fans get promised something that never happens the more irritable the mood gets.
The next time I update this site, bar it being a new ground back home, I want it to be announcing the first of a decent signing that will make a difference. At the very least, somebody whose stats you can look at and think “OK, this guy has done it in League 1/2…”. Terry Brown can talk all he wants about getting experience in, but he’s yet to do it.
Just as importantly, if he does find somebody then the club must back him up. We got a reasonable enough transfer fee for both Kedwell and Gregory, and it sounds as though we held off spending more money in August simply to use it in January 2012. That time has come now, and we need things to happen. Not talked about, not dreamed about, actually done.
In other words, I don’t want to know that AFC Wimbledon has to change to stay in the Football League…