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Sticking the boot in

You see what I did there? Boot? Northampton? Cobblers? Bwahahahahahahaha.

OK, that was shit, but I don’t do drugs and therefore need something to get me through writing up about Sixfields 2 Killing Fields 0.

So, what can I say? I would like to say that this was a better performance and it’s only a matter of time before we do start winning games convincingly again. However, if I did that I would be lying.

You may have heard some comments about us having a bit more in attack today, and even on occasions we showed a bit of spark. But the trouble is that we were relatively speaking, having a bit more in attack. We were relatively speaking, a bit more lively, though needless to say that once they scored, the game was effectively over.

And that’s the trouble – it’s all relatively speaking a better performance than at Burton and Bradford.

But we’re still shit. And we’re still in urgent need of a new approach.

Once again, the players did that huddle thing beforehand, although this time with SC doing the pep talk. Again, like Southend, one wonders if it’s a genuine attempt to rally round or whether it’s a front for our consumption. Personally, I think the players are playing for their own pride now, as they don’t want to be seen as relegation fodder. That’s as much a reason as any why the youngsters especially are trying hard.

I don’t doubt that certain individuals are fighting for their jobs right now, in fact I would expect that as the absolute bare minimum. That’s why Seb Brown was dropped and why Jaimez-Ruiz came in today. To be fair, he aquitted himself well.

It’s been said a couple of times recently that if we had more of a spark we could have won our last two games though. And I don’t actually think we’re that bad a collection of players. Note I used that phrase rather than “team”, by the way. But again, even when we’re relatively speaking “better” we still looked second best and cannot complain about this latest defeat.

The question is, now what? While we can still guess what these “number of actions” were in that statement, obviously one point from a possible six and exiting the JPT weren’t some of them. We’ve made Stuart Cash do the amount of training sessions that one expects from a professional football club (and I’m sorry to labour the point – actually, I’m not – but there is no justification at all for a supposed Football League club like ourselves to have such a Conference South level arrangement).

We’ve done huddles. We’ve brought in yet more loan players. We’ve dropped people like Seb Brown and Warren Cummings. We’ve forced players in on their day off. We’ve got an Olympic gold medallist to do a first half rally-rousing team talk. We’ve brought in the promising youngsters probably a bit earlier than what they would otherwise expect.

We’ve tried harder in games. We’ve no doubt changed the tactics. We’ve probably had some serious one-to-one sessions between the manager and the players. And we’ve had a statement telling us all that measures are being taken.

None of it has worked.

And now I’m genuinely scared of what will happen to us.

I have to say that I don’t listen to TB’s interviews any more, because they somehow manage to deflate me even when we’ve won. But today, I got to hear him on BBC London afterwards. I scribbled down what he said, and this is the jist of what was said:

Pleased with the first half

Started second half brighter, but too many heads went down

Can’t look at excuses

Even if we had created a chance and scored Northampton would have created more.

Got to patch everything up.

These were all paraphrased. The following isn’t.

We need to defend better.

Gee, thanks Captain Obvious. No wonder you’re still the manager. I bet that’s why you’re still in your job, because you tell that to the Football Club board and they pronounce you as some kind of managerial genius that only the foolish and ignorant mock.

I think the comment made soon afterwards was “indifferent”, and if there was any doubt that we have now gone as far as we can then that interview proved it. It just seemed so bland, like it was going through the managerial motions. It was almost like we had just had a defeat after a run of a couple of good wins and a few draws, and not from a side that hasn’t won since the opening day and has shipped more goals that anyone else in the Football League.

He’s either very good at hiding his real feelings or he is genuinely in denial about how bad things have come since November last season. No wonder Stuart Cash was doing the pre-game prep talk, perhaps there’s the off-chance they might listen to  him a bit more.

I think this problem was highlighted by the interviews before his, namely one by John Still and the other by Lee Cook, who scored for Leyton Orient this afternoon. Both seemed to be much more “with it”, or at least assured in what they were saying. If we had such enthusiasm in charge right now, we wouldn’t be in the trouble we’re in at the moment.

Still in particular may be dealing with the Daggers, but there was this air of confidence that you expect them to pull away from danger. That’s how he came across in the interview. TB on the other hand just paused a lot and came out with some vacant sounding soundbites.

I don’t think I’ll listen to one of his interviews again, unless I’m contractually obliged to. And somehow, I may not need to…

Plus points: It was a nice, sunny day. Little bit of passion from the younger players.

Minus points: Still losing without much fight or conviction. Defence still shit. Never likely to come back.

The referee’s a…: Did he fail to give us a penalty? Mind you, we got away with a couple of things ourselves. Paul Priddy was seen talking to them beforehand, presumably as a plea of leniency.

Them: Player wise, I’m not totally sure they’re streets ahead of us, but unlike us they’re set up as a unit and were deserved winners. They seemed bigger, fitter, and more willing to chase down lost causes, which if you’re limited isn’t such a bad idea.

But then, Aidy Boothroyd managed in the Premier League and doesn’t feel the need to push round pegs into square holes.

They played some NTFC related song to the tune of the Red Flag, which made it sound like a Labour Party conference circa 1977 or the opening theme music of a Dons Trust Board meeting. Oh, and they had a mascot that banged a drum. Two modern football cliches for the price of one…

Point to ponder: I wrote these notes after the last time we played at Sixfields, on Valentines Day this year. Are they prophetic? Or perhaps more accurately, should I be reading them on the 8th September and finding just about everything written coming to pass?

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Sitting in the very seats that Franchise fans were in last Tuesday, and nobody receiving an STD from them. At least, not yet. (2) Further to the above comment about the Red Flag being played before the game, the Liquidator was as well. I offer no further comment. (3) Speaking of Northampton, are there a lot of Wolves fans in the vicinity? I ask because somebody from Anthony Nolan approached me before the game and asked me if I supported Northampton or the team from Molineux…

Anything else? I expect we’re going to hear some stories about certain people being seen at games (in fact, I mentioned one last week). But there seems to be a bit of a trend about seeing people who may be helping in an advisory or consultancy capacity.

It’s an idea I would welcome, providing it’s used correctly. If it’s to “help out” TB/SC, then it’s not going to work at all. We all know that our current manager doesn’t want anyone bar Cash and Bassey helping him – ask Marcus Gayle. To bring in somebody to add something to the coaching staff will just cloud who has the authority, and would cause tension. Not to mention that it would just be seen as a fudge, and that the Football Club board really is too weak to make a firm decision.

If it’s more advisory as in increasing the football knowledge of the club, then I’m all for it. We may currently have Dicky Guy and Ian Cooke to pick their brains, but with all due respect to them they were briefly involved with Division 4 in the mid-to-late 70s, and you would be right to ask what they really know about the modern game.

The club may well appear (and act) like it’s still stuck in non-league, but it really struggles with not having anyone who actually knows something about the football industry. Especially the one that is the Football League. Should there be a managerial vacancy before too long, it really wouldn’t hurt the club to have somebody who knows the football culture to ask the questions of a potential new boss – questions that somebody like Erik perhaps wouldn’t know to ask.

Ideally, I’d like a football man on the Football Club board – maybe two would be better, but certainly somebody whose view and knowledge of the game comes from the era of digital TV and the internet.

I doubt if you’d need to pay them – although they would be worth every penny if you get somebody clued up – and I don’t doubt there are enough ex-WFC people about who would give us what we don’t have.

I’m simply throwing a name or two about here, and I have no idea what they would really bring to the table, but if somebody like Harry Bassett or Alan Cork just acted as a wise old bird giving advice to the club’s board, it would be a lot better than what we have now.

After all, the current board may have done a lot in the last decade, but they don’t know everything. And if this season does become the season of massive change in the club, then let’s do it properly…

So, was it worth it? *cough*

In a nutshell: It’s really not funny now.