This site will pledge not to use “Gone for a…” tomorrow if we lose.
I suppose if I was inclined to go down the cliche route, I would be going on about how tomorrow is yet another six-pointer. And in many senses, it is – a win tomorrow would push us to within three points of that elusive 50 point mark, and would probably psychologically see us safe. Especially if Macclesfield and Barnet can take points off each other tonight, and Daggers and Hereford slip up to Accrington and Crewe.
A loss and results going against us? Then we start sucking our teeth again.
Hopefully it won’t come to that, of course. We are capable of winning tomorrow, although I wouldn’t go so far as to say we should win. Remember that they beat us 3-2 at their place, and with a rather familiar sentence from the OS report of that day:
The Dons were always second best to a lively Burton side who regularly exposed their defensive frailties
Actually, reading that very report did come across as pretty depressing : “empty net“… “defence flat footed“… “undeserved equaliser“. And they wonder why confidence was shot by that stage?
I’d like to say that it was in November and we’re a lot stronger now. The truth is, I can’t. Granted, having Pim on emergency loan makes us look a little bit more like a L2 defence, and the move to 4-4-2 has helped (and a little bit more on that later), but there’s still that little nagging doubt that our relative recent improvement can easily take a step backwards.
We could do well, of course, and if nothing else the supporters are owed a decent performance and win. Even if the team should have sealed L2 safety by now. Upon reflection, Oxford could have been a lot worse, although we still lost due to the style of play that is demanded of us. But again, the need to prove a point that has yet to been made still remains – victory won’t change much long term but it will make this next week feel nicer.
One thing that has become apparent since Tuesday is how low key this buildup has felt. It hasn’t been like Plymouth was, and it certainly wasn’t the crippling anxiety that Daggers became. It’s almost a bit of an end-of-season feel to it : we certainly cannot be complacent, but there’s a sense that half-an-eye is looking towards the summer and what that will bring us.
Should we become safe by the end of this month, April could get interesting. Especially if there’s an acceptance that there’s going to be some significant changes…
Which is why there was something a little bit chin-scratching about Jack Midson’s comments made after Oxford. Wonder if that’s a new thing? Or whether deep down, the players have never been comfortable with the attempts to make them play like Ajax 1977? Would explain a lot if so.
And if that is the case, why wait until now to say it? At least publicly. That said, one suspects this has been brought up a few times in training, and you would have to start wondering about the relationship between the players and management team if the style of play gets changed again – especially as one of the side’s most important players has come out in this manner.
It wouldn’t say a lot for it if despite all this the formation goes back to its tried-and-not-particularly-successful formula. Especially after changing to 4-4-2 may have got us over the line.
Additionally, we’ve got Jamie Stuart back, despite him going AWOL. Again, you have to wonder what’s happened there behind the scenes, and whether some bridges got uncomfortably burned. We know that JS can be a bit, ahem, “passionate” at times, and I can’t see him being put up for loan to begin with was a way of saying thank-you.
For somebody who often found himself on the team-sheet as a first choice (often when there was no reason to break up developing partnerships at the back), it seemed pretty obvious that he was wanted away from the club for some reason. One expects some humble pie has been swallowed over this episode – the question is by whom…
The next six weeks will go a long way to seeing what happens in the summer. Securing safety may just be the start of it.
While you wait for that, we still have tomorrow to overcome. It would be typical if we play the worst we have for some time yet get the three points. But as the weather takes on its Spring-like tones, with its mood changing properties, you have to say that really wouldn’t matter…