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Bad Friday

I don’t know whether it had as much to do with half-an-eye on the end of the season, but Mickey Murphy 1 Windy Miller 2 does give the impression we can’t wait until after the Shrewsbury game.

You should know the drill by now. We go behind, come back, actually look good for about 20-25 minutes then we get kneed in the gonads. I’m sure I saw this sort of thing as far back as, ooh, Bristol Rovers at home…

This was the first game since Pim’s time with us was up (OK, I know he could have played if he hadn’t broken his toe) and our back line looked worse as a result. I think we can safely say we won’t see Brett Johnson next season, although apparently he went off injured. Whether it was a genuine one or a “convenient” one is unclear. I doubt if Djilali went off injured though, except maybe for a badly bruised ego.

To be fair, there was a period when we scored when we went a bit more at them, put the crosses in a bit more and unsettled them a bit. And yes, for that spell we could have won it. But yet again, it’s only for a 20 minute spell, and I guess today we showed why we’re looking nearer the bottom teams than the top.

You don’t deserve to win games if you constantly only play for less than a half at a time.

I’m not saying you can’t get away with it a couple of times a season, it’s got us unlikely points at Crewe and Gillingham. But it’s an approach that will lose you more games than win, and we’ve now had 20 losses in this division this season. That’s not coincidence or just bad luck.

We’ve got away with it this season, although needless to say we won’t next campaign. Today had a bit of end-of-season feel, but it also felt a little bit like the end of the road in many instances. Come the middle of summer, it might be a good idea to take out the list of who was playing today, and how many of them will be looking for other clubs for 2012/13.

How deep that will go remains to be seen, and whether it’s just playing squad too (and you should know SW19’s thoughts on that). But today was just a reminder that things do need to be done in the summer. And perhaps a lot more than we first think.

I mention this rather than the game as I don’t know if there’s much point in analysing what we do (or don’t do). It hasn’t altered that much this season, which rather tells its own story, and there’s only so many times you can say how poor we were in the first half and we were better in the second for a time.

It’s not like we’ll see any radical changes now – hell, in his post match interview TB has said that he’s bringing back Jamie Stuart on Monday – and we really are in limp-over-the-finishing-line now. I’m not sure if Operation Survival is properly completed, mathematically we certainly aren’t safe but results elsewhere are bailing us out.

So instead…

Plus points: We scored. Decent enough 20 minute spell in second half.

Minus points: We lost. First half. Same old same old. Looking nowhere near as good without Pim.

The referee’s a…: *sucks teeth and sighs*

Them: Like Accrington, another team who aren’t quite the best in the division but know what to do and how to win these sort of games. Got immensely lucky with their first goal, but you’d have to be churlish to say that they weren’t the better team at that stage. Even if they could have been better up front.

It’s hard to believe that they were some of our last opponents in the WFC era, in the Championship. Hell, I remember this game as though it was yesterday. Still, decent turnout from them today, and I expect we’ll see them again next season.

Point to ponder: Whither Jack Turner? To be fair to him, he recovered well from that awful howler and put in a couple of good blocks later on. He certainly didn’t look any more suspect than Seb Brown has been recently, and despite him coming across as a bit of a whiner on Twatter he clearly has some strength of character in him.

Which maybe suggests something that may be considered a bit taboo during the summer – if we get a decent offer for him, perhaps we ought to let Seb go in the summer to a side like Brighton? And get an experienced keeper in who knows how to marshall the defence better? There are enough keepers sitting week in, week out on sub benches in L1 and even the Championship who would come to us…

As somebody said to me today, Seb is more likely to develop getting a couple of years in the second string of a Championship club than by playing regularly with us. Currently, he has to learn on the job, and when he makes mistakes that a more experienced keeper wouldn’t make we certainly know about it.

Yes, it would be a shame for him to leave, but would we be worse off? Indeed, would he? As for Turner, whatever happens he will be an understudy here for a good couple more seasons. He played well enough today, and you’d still put him in JPT games, but we could afford to have him on the bench. And besides, who knows what he could learn from a more experienced pro…

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) The Wombelles doing that Zomba (?) fitness thingy at half time. Including one knackered Tintin inside the mascot uniform. To be fair, they all moved better than the team did in the first 45 minutes. (2) Phillo announcing 4 minutes of injury time, before quickly changing it to 3. Presumably it was aimed at the ref… (3) Very quiet at the game at times, almost to the point where you could hear a pin drop. Perhaps people really do want this season out of the way now? The post-game vibe was a weary one, certainly.

Anything else? Looking at the League table makes me glad we somehow managed to get an additional five points when we did. Looks like us beating Burton, drawing at Crewe and getting a result at Shrewsbury has probably kept us up. Or at least made these results like today a bit more tolerable.

But it’s shocked me at how difficult getting this magical 50 point watermark has proven to be. We could (and should) have secured it as far back as early March, and yet it’s now Easter and we’ve not even crawled just past it. Indeed, it may be possible that we even fall short of it.

Was it too high a target set? Or have we been so inept at times that it just seems like it? If you “only” win a third of your games per season and draw another third, you still get 60 odd points comfortably. That would put you in the same category as Aldershot and today’s opponents, and makes your end-of-season quite sedate and comfortable.

As said earlier, we’ve now lost 20 games in the League, and it’s possible that we could get three more which will mean we would have lost exactly half our games this season. You can get away with that stat this time around, but you won’t next campaign.

And in a season that has taught us more in eight months than perhaps the previous nine years, that may be the most pointed lesson of them all. To be even mid-table mediocrity requires a bit – OK, a lot – more than we offered this season. There was a lot of naievity shown this campaign in various aspects of our approach, but if they get repeated next season then it’s down to negligence and incompetence.

I won’t go on about the management team, but Ricky Wellard being simply “okay” for large parts of the game isn’t good enough these days. Neither is Sam Hatton being “all right” providing he doesn’t keep standing off players, or Chris Bush doing “okay” until one predictable mistake.

For all the talk about certain individuals being “given time”, in this standard of football you don’t get that much time. Especially if by getting it wrong puts you where Hereford or Macclesfield are right now.

If anyone was in any doubt about it before today, we need to do a LOT of thinking between now and the close season, and the day after Shrewsbury the serious hard work starts. The club is making a pointed step by redeveloping the KRE, and this time next year it will be forced to do something to the ex-JS. It shouldn’t be the last of the big changes…

So, was it worth it? *snorts*

In a nutshell: Guess Jesus had the right idea today…