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Same shit, different bucket

I had such a nice couple of days in the Black Country. The sights of closed down foundries, the brutalist 60s architecture of Birmingham, various ring roads and ten storey car parks where they sealed off the lifts.

Needless to say, all of that was better than the Burton debacle.

The trouble with passing comment on it is that it still is only two games in. Anything I do want to say will be dismissed with it “being too soon to comment”, and how things will inevitably get better as everyone settles in.

So what I will say instead is that yesterday, we saw the first few minutes of a typical Casualty episode. You know the drill – the first shot of a little girl playing in the street, followed by a speeding car driven by some gakked up chav. You know where the storyline is heading, although on occasions the writers will throw a curveball and the car somehow avoids the little girl but her father ends up having a heart attack.

Either way, somebody dies.

And that is what I feel about watching us right now – it’s a case of when the point of no return happens, not if. For the first time last night, I could sense the patience finally start to run out, and by those at the game too.

There isn’t full blown mutiny yet, but there’s something inevitable about another Plymouth happening. Unsurprisingly, we’ve had the players day off cancelled – we’ve been down this route before, of course, and no doubt we will get a decent result at Valley Parade on Saturday.

But you just know that sooner rather than later, we’ll have another clusterfuck like last night and the same cycle of doom will happen all over again – the mistakes won’t be rectified, the form will suffer, the confidence (what there is of it) will slump and it will take a game for it all to come to a head and then we finally wise up and etch out a couple of wins.

In that piece I just linked, TB is talking about addressing the defensive woes. Presumably he’s finally worked out where the problems lie, and has brought in a mirror big enough for him and Stuart Cash to stand in front of…

OK, enough snark. Even though we have lost 6-2 and have made absolutely no indications that we have learnt from last season, or that we’ve finally wised up to the weaknesses we have. I do expect TB to get the unwritten rule of a 10-game grace period, and I do expect we’ll see a couple of Knott-esque loanees in.

Although you do have to question about how effective our transfers will be from now on. Am I alone in thinking that we sign players on a whim, and simply hope for the best? Here’s what TB said about Warren Cummings after he signed him:

“Warren is a major capture for us at left-back,” Brown said. “He is the one that I had set my heart on us signing. His track record is fantastic and he has had numerous offers from other clubs, but I am very pleased that Warren has decided to join us.

“We have done all our homework on him, including speaking to our former player Steven Gregory, who played with him at Bournemouth, and his previous managers. Everyone spoke really highly of him. He is very technically gifted and has a sweet left foot and he is used to playing our passing style of football at Bournemouth.

That will be the same Warren Cummings who was slower than a pillarbox and got yanked off at half time last night. But of course, we did our homework on him so we knew exactly what we were getting.

Same as Byron Harrison, who we had been tracking for two years, and we knew so much about him that SC admitted at the MtM that we, er, didn’t know what to do with him after all. Unless he really was a tax fiddle of a signing.

I’m genuinely convinced that when it comes to transfers now, TB panics and grabs whoever he can. I certainly don’t believe he and the rest of the management team do their homework as much as they claim they do. When your transfer budget is at the lower end of the scale, you have to be triple-dilligent in who you buy and make sure they fit in straight away.

Wimbledon FC were great at that. AFC Wimbledon aren’t.

I’ve no idea what such an approach does to the team dynamics, although it will be interesting to see the patience of the squad from now on. It was suggested last night that the players don’t seem to have much confidence in TB – certainly the heads dropped a bit when we went behind. Could we see the first cracks appear, especially if results continue to be shit?

Some of the senior players from last year may well be forgiven for harbouring those thoughts. After all, they saw half their team-mates last season shipped out to non-league football, unlikely to ever return to the Football League. And we know that the likes of Pim, Midson etc aren’t bad players, and won’t be willing to sit back and watch their own careers suffer.

When player power starts to mobilise, a manager is usually finished. If TB had any sense today, he would have kept the finger pointing down to a minimum…

Whatever happens, we are still in August, and whatever needs to be remedied will probably be done way before it gets critical. If the TB era really  is heading towards the end, it’s best we’re finding this out now rather than in March/April when us dithering could prove the difference between failure and survival.

It might be too early in the season to cast aspersions, but the initial signs haven’t been good. And like an episode of Casualty, there’s always somebody who never sees the car coming…