A couple of thoughts from last night:
– Nine points out of nine, eh? Be honest, who would have predicted that after the Swindon game? After that debacle, we would have been lucky to get nine points from the rest of the season.
All of a sudden, and with almost no hint of irony, people are pointing out that we’re now seven points away from the playoffs. More importantly, at the moment, we’re 14 points away from the drop zone and pushing towards that 50 point safety barrier. Although with those around the drop zone still needing to play each other, safety may be nearer than we think…
– We all know what’s changed, and we can only hope that we really have made arrangements to keep Knott and co until the end of the season. Speaking of our new hero from Sunderland (OK, Canvey…), he may just be the best player to ever put on a blue-with-yellow-trim shirt in the AFCW era. There’s no way he’ll stay past May, in fact I think we might have trouble keeping him past February.
Which would be a massive shame, as his reaction at the end last night was as passionate and celebratory as anyone who has spent his whole career with us. He seems to be matey with both GG and Sammy Moore, which obviously helps. And our loanees seem quite well grounded full stop – one sensed that with the “old” squad success went to their head…
Oh, decent goal by Knott too.
– On reflection, that might have been the goal to have finally pushed us away from the relegation zone this season. Knott struck at exactly the right time – we were a goal down (yet again), we just picked ourselves off the floor, we replied quickly enough to stop the grumbles becoming louder and from then on there was only going to be one winner.
Even if we did have to wait until the end again.
Now, you look at Saturday and you’re pumped for it, aren’t you? As a few times this season have proven, you can have a couple of decent results and think you’re on the right track, then you play the third game and you leave a massive turd in the middle of the room. We haven’t done that this time, and one senses we’re in for perhaps the most confident period of our season.
Aldershot is winnable. Bradford and Northampton are winnable. Hell, even though they’re third in the table people may put a couple of shillings on the game at Whaddon Road. This month has proven many things, one of them showing just how narrow the gap is between freefalling and doing well. I expect we’ll go through a sticky patch in a couple of games time, but for once it’s nice to look at the League table…
– This all said, we’ve come from behind more times in the past 11 days than the average porn star. There’s only so many times we can get away with that, even with our new found confidence, and it seems that TB wasn’t happy last night.
As I was writing this, the forward appears to be Bognor striker Jason Prior. Now, you know what SW19 thinks of signing players from that level, but he has gone on trial at Newcastle. One presumes he was found not guilty. I reserve judgement on him, much in the same way as I’m reserving judgement on Byron Harrison right now…
I think we have to accept that TB is always going to want to sign a forward, regardless of any other position that may need sorting out. Over the last four years it’s the position he’s gone on most about. Christ, if Seb got injured, he’d probably try and do without a shotstopper if he could sign somebody up front – mind you, we’d win every game 14-13.
But the possibility of a defender? Blimey, things must be bad then. Seems like Sam Hatton is becoming much-maligned again, and somebody made an unguarded comments about him last night – “he’s the last link to the Ryman Premier”.
OK, perhaps our manager would count under that too, but he seems to have become a target again and you wonder if this will be the closing chapter for him at AFCW. Last season he was a revelation, but now he seems to be getting singled out in probably the worst back line in the division. He did seem to pass to the opposition more than most, and there’s a difference between knowing what you’re trying to do and actually doing it.
And yes, he is the best right back at the club, which is a bit like saying you’re the best saxophonist in Luxembourg.
At least we’re seeing him play. Some other players seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth – have you heard anything about Ricky Wellard or Brett Johnson recently? Admittedly I don’t read the programme so I’ve no idea whether both are featured in Mike Raynor’s comments, but it does feel odd not even hearing their names on the bench.
The transfer window shuts in about a week’s time, and it could end up being a very interesting one (though of course the loan window is open until March). Could we see the likes of Wellard and BJ plying their trade elsewhere, even if only temporarily? It’s noteworthy that Ryan Jackson, James Mulley and Max Porter are still “here” (translated: nobody wants them), although you have to say that the vibe in the first team has improved somewhat since they got listed. QED?
I can’t see any of our players (the ones we would want to get rid of, anyway) joining another Football League club, bar Dagenham or Northampton, so one tends to look into non-league to see where they could end up. You can see Mulley ending up at somewhere like Luton or Cambridge, Jackson back at Fleetwood and perhaps Max Porter at Newport (and back under Justin Edinburgh).
Would you send Wellard back to Cambridge to repeat what happened last year there? Perhaps BJ to Kenilworth Road? Chris Bush to Ebbsfleet? The thing is, all these idle bits of speculation are plausible, and all of them would do a job at that level.
Mind you, players have to play where they can these days, and Reece Jones at Ryman Premier doesn’t sound good for him for next season…
– Speaking of next season, and assuming we can secure safety ASAP, it’s times like this when it’s worth thinking about what we do come May/June/July. And when you think about it, we’ve got one helluva rebuilding job to do.
I can’t see most if not all the players just mentioned having squad numbers with us for 2012/13, and you assume that JS will be on his way too. Take out all the loanees too, and that’s practically a new side we have to rebuild this close season. And at a level that has to be League Two standard this time.
Could we be heading for the biggest close season shakeup in the AFCW era? I still can’t see how long we can get away with SC/SB being effectively part time, and is it true that Paul Priddy (GK coach) only comes in once a week? I’m not going to say that we will automatically have everything in place come the first kick of the ball next season, in fact I can see it taking a couple of seasons of (at times painful) rebuilding.
But last night proves what can happen if we do it properly. Talk of getting into League One in the next couple of seasons isn’t so far fetched, although it would be nearer 3/4 years – just imagine finding/developing our own Knott – and the club’s long term aim is the Championship.
I don’t think we need to be League-One-this-season-or-bust. We’re not Crawley. We badly need to catch up with ourselves though, on and off the pitch, and at least we now know what we need to do. Being a mid table side for the next couple of years won’t hurt us, and if we can finally get a couple of cup runs together that would keep us occupied.
How we’ll do it remains to be seen, but it could be quite fun finding out.
– Finally, isn’t it funny how Jason Euell has almost been forgotten already? And to think he was going to be the catalyst for our comeback…