This entire piece may end up being redundant by the time I press the “publish” button, and it might come back to haunt me at some point, especially if we suddenly remain unbeaten until Boxing Day.
But currently, on the morning of Sunday, 26th August 2012, it’s exactly how I feel and how I see the club progressing.
Right as I type this, I hope the Football Club board are meeting to discuss the terms of TB’s severence payment. If they’re not, at least everyone responsible has got it in their diaries to meet at 3pm today, or at 10am tomorrow to do exactly that.
Because I just cannot see how our current manager can take charge of the game against Dagenham.
It’s taken a fair while to get to this metaphorical point of no return, but I genuinely believe that he has lost his ability to manage us – losing 5-1 after losing 6-2 is bad enough even if you’re playing well.
But that only tells a fraction of the story . This is not so much a new season, but an extension of last season – the defense is painfully disorganised and undercoached, the tactics are round-pegs-in-square-holes, the ability to start a game well isn’t there, and there’s an all-round sense that things aren’t going to get much better. Nothing has changed from December last year.
That in itself is bad enough, but two events this week have proven fatal to TB’s tenure. We have a heavy defeat, and he gets the players in next day to look at the DVD of the Burton game. He did exactly the same thing after THAT Plymouth game (and remember when he said that he was going to tell them “some home truths”?), and obviously he had to do that to re-assert his authority and presumably call them out in front of each other.
To do that, things need to be pretty bad. And boy, Burton was that…
The second event was the signing of Curtis Haynes-Brown to replace the guy who was signed in the summer at left back. You know, Warren Cummings who we done our homework on. An astute observation on this promising looking new blog suggested that his signing was a last minute one before the coach left for Bradford on Friday.
It certainly brought back a particular bit of the Football Hurts series (remember that?), when TB bought in shitloads of new players (sounds familiar?) and told them in training that “some of you need to pull your fingers out”. And it wouldn’t surprise me if in various pre-match briefings if Cummings was singled out in such a fashion.
So, to summarise we go for the football equivalent of a waterboarding session the day after Burton. We go for a player in what is and was a short term panic measure (in August…). We go for the kick-up-the-arse approach that simply had to get a result against Bradford.
We lose 5-1.
And I’m still being expected in one or two quarters that TB has to stay as he can turn it around.
Seriously, if TB takes the next training session or two, what can he tell them? He can’t bring the DVD of Bradford out as well, and tell them some moreÂ home truths. If it would have worked, it would have worked for yesterday at Valley Parade.
He can’t keep pointing fingers at them. For all his “nice Uncle Terry” aura with fans and the media, I suspect that during training sessions he can be quite accusatory – especially as we know how stubborn he is with his preferred style of play. There’s only so many times you can blame the players, and even if he did try and cosy up to them now, I wonder how convincing he would be.
And what does he say to Warren Cummings? TB made it pretty clear by his actions what he thought of his play when he got in CH-B. He either has to bench Cummings, risking some real grief, or he has to come crawling back – either way, it does his authority and/or competence no good.
This next week is going to be interesting, and by interesting I mean chaotic. The irony that it’s D&R at KM next week is not lost on me, as we all know what the run-up to last time against them was. If I’m being honest here, I expect TB to take charge of it, because for all the above I don’t think the top brass will part company with him this week.
It’s a very dangerous thing to do – if we play badly and the game goes against us, TB will not only be finished but he won’t go out with any dignity. His last game in charge would be a very unpleasant end to a managerial career that doesn’t deserve to have bile attached to it.
Even if we do win on Saturday, it will just delay the inevitable. We all know from last season that a couple of wins gives way to a run of 4 or 5 defeats on the spin. There’s nothing to suggest this won’t be the case this season, and in fact I can’t see even if we do win that it won’t be simply down to the opposition being inept and us being remotely competent.
At the best of times, relying on the weaknesses of other teams is unsubtainable beyond the short term. Right now, that seems to be the only strategy – not just short term but long term too. And this is another reason why I think the club’s top brass should be preparing a statement wishing TB all the best for the future – our current approach is not only not working, it’s also dangerous.
Because we don’t seem to have a plan any more. All that we have now is an approach that is simply trying to keep Terry Brown in his job – to prolong his dream of managing in the Football League for just a couple more matches. Just one little result here and there to allow him to walk out and applaud the fans again.
Fine if your team is called AFC Terry Brown, not fine if you’re AFC Wimbledon.
See, AFCW is a football club in the Football League, and one that struggling quite painfully. And one that has had a significant turnover of playing staff but has kept on the three managerial staff that has been there since the Ryman Premier days. And hasn’t made any obvious steps forward after a critical close season just gone. Tenures run out – even Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger will leave their clubs at some point, and we should never be held ransom by personal loyalty.
When people suggest that TB should still have another couple of games, why? What actual proof is there that despite an awful pre-season, a meekly surrendered COCUP tie, a very lucky 1-0 win over a Chesterfield side still scratching their heads and two of the worst performances of either the AFCW era or WFC one, that he can still have enough tactically and motivationally to turn this around?
I don’t buy the notion that it’s “too soon” to get shot of a manager, especially as it’s been close to a year since it’s been like this. Norwich City sacked Bryan Gunn after two games (ironically his last game was a 4-0 victory), and got in the bloke of the Colchester side that gubbed them 7-1. His name was Paul Lambert, and it certainly didn’t prove to be too soon for them.
The club has to be honest with itself here – when does “too soon” become “too late”? If it got shot of TB now, it might have a couple of question marks about doing it four competitive games in, but it can easily point to the 5-1, the 6-2, form carried over from much (most?) of last season, signings etc. In other words, there’s no unfinished business remaining now with TB.
Alternatively (and this is what I think the club will do), it will give TB a couple more games and pretty much do the self same thing when (not if) results take another turn for the worse. But why wait if that’s the case? What damage will be done in the meantime that could be avoided by making the decision before Saturday?
This is my real fear about this apparent dithering. TB’s tenure is up, but how much damage will be built up for his successor by keeping him on? As it stands, even getting in Stuart Cash and Simon Bassey (hardly my dream partnership) will at least steady the ship and give some resemblance of a fresh(er) approach.
Funnily enough, I think this particular squad can do quite well this season, relatively speaking, but not under its current regime. It’s not like they get the confidence from those in charge – TB was never the most assured sounding bloke even when we were doing well…
I think somebody like Harrison needs somebody to get into his head, but could be a useful player in a team that has an upshot in confidence again. Cummings wasn’t a bad player at Crawley last season, by all accounts, and we all know how good Pim, Sammy Moore and Jack Midson are. And as somebody elsewhere put it, how can we concede so many goals with Pim at the back..?
It really is up to the club now what happens next. I hope whatever decision it makes (or not), it has learnt that you cannot employ people on sentiment or emotion, or what they did a couple of years ago but aren’t doing now. For that is exactly what they will be doing if they keep TB on.
The next update I write will hopefully be the one where I thank TB for getting us out of the Ryman hellhole and back into the Football League, and reflect on the five years he had with us. It may not be the fairytale ending which he should have had in the summer, but similar happened to Allen Batsford too. And it did his legend status no harm.
Because right now, I don’t fancy the alternative…