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The end is nigh?

Well, we certainly tried hard in Lidl 1 Co-Op 2, and I won’t fault any of the players for that.

I also won’t say much about the referee until later…

What I’m thinking right now is a point an SW19 reader* made during the second half – this might have been TB’s version of Graham Taylor’s night in the Netherlands (the infamous “Do I Not Like That” one), when he was caught on the mic saying to the linesman “Tell your mate, he’s cost me my job”.

* – also the man responsible for the photo (thanks Rob). BTW, does anyone know why my Xperia Mini Pro isn’t responding on the touchscreen? Tried a hard reset…

Which if this was anything to go by, written before Bradford, only seems like a matter of time now.

Yes, it will be unfair after today. You can’t legislate for some poxy officiating. But this is a results based business, and just because you had a bad day from the man in red black sadly doesn’t count over the long term.

Today wouldn’t have mattered so much had we not ballsed it up against Bradford, or Northampton, or failed to do much against Daggers (and that’s this season alone). Had we sorted ourselves out in those games, we would never have needed THAT statement, and today would have just been one of those games.

Was this too little too late, in the end? Probably. We started off brightly enough, although we needed the quick start. And we saw a goal after just ten minutes, except it was for the opposition. Simple ball, simple header, and far too simple for our defence.

Jack Midson may have got conned with his red card, but you never put yourself in a position with a more wily opponent when you lift your hands up. I forget whether it was our free kick or not, but if your opposition is trying to get you into trouble, you don’t give him a dart for him to throw at you.

Was Sammy Moore tripped for their second goal? Or was he disposessed? We’ll have to see the replay, but you sensed that it was only a matter of time before Rochdale got another one anyway.

We did start getting back into it a bit, but it was really only the much-maligned Byron Harrison who made any sort of change on the game. And you know what the biggest irony is? Harrison is one of our very few “League Two type” players – or at least somebody who you could imagine lining up for our opponents.

When we scored, and it was disallowed, I think you just knew. Standing on the line to tap it in is pretty unfortunate, but when Lady Luck is laughing at you, she’s a cruel bitch.

Of course, then Luke Moore did actually score…

And we rallied. And we might have got something if we’d had a bit more spark. Which is something I’ve written a helluva lot recently. But even with four minutes of injury time, plus a Rochdale defence that was wobbling, we didn’t offer that much. Indeed, if any of the two keepers were busier, it was Seb – this could have ended up 4-1.

It did rather sum up the game when the ref blew for full time as there was an encroachment for our free kick…

The ref’s performance will give us a weekend of self-righteous indignation, but it hasn’t changed anything. There is still a lot of disjointed play. Our defence is as amateurish and poorly organised as it has ever been. And TB’s post-match comments to the Hounslow Chronicle suggests that he’s run out of time.

If I was on the Football Club board right now (and I know at least one of them reads this place, even if they tend to think I talk bollocks), I would call an emergency board meeting either tomorrow morning or before Monday PM and do the inevitable.

But what I would also do is say to TB that he has the Torquay game just to say goodbye and go out on a high.

He needs closure, and we need closure too. Today was the best effort in a long while, but we fell short too much – and when a team is struggling as it is, you need to win the Rochdale games, and the Daggers games.

What does TB say on Monday morning to the players if he isn’t going to leave yet? Serious question here – they spent all last week going all out, with the change in emphasis in training, getting in Gregs and the other bloke, and basically trying to re-create the Dagenham game from last season.

This had to work today.

It didn’t.

And yes, I know the referee etc etc, but even so things shouldn’t have got to the stage they did before the game anyway. To have the axe over you in September, because nothing has changed in a good 10 months or so, is telling you something.

This tends to happen with struggling teams, that they try and use one game – or one incident in one game – to use as an excuse why they’re going down. No, you struggle because you’re crap over the whole of the season, not just because of one game. And that applies to us.

Today won’t cost TB his job, but it will just contribute to him losing it.

I think he let the cat out of the bag earlier this week, perhaps inadvertantly, when he said this in the South London Press on Tuesday:

I have probably had six or seven times where I’ve thought ‘my job is in jeopardy’

One or two times, every manager goes through. Three or four times, you have to start wondering why it’s that amount. But six or seven? That’s telling you something right there, and unless you’re in a Stan Flashman/Barry Fry situation, that is what I call a precarious position.

Today, the referee will get it. But what needs to be done needs to be done, and quick. For the sake of everyone, TB included, we all need to move on with our lives…

Plus points: We put up a good fight. Luke Moore scoring. Seb made some good saves.

Minus points: Same old same old in defence. Not putting on Harrison when Midson got red carded. Still an all-round collection of individuals performance.

The referee’s a…: OK, he’s not to blame for our long term demise, and we did get the goals against us through our own fault, but what a grade A cuntstain he was. Did he hate us or something? Did we shit in his tea before the game? I do notice we’re not going to bother appealing Jack Midson’s interpretation of judo though, so I guess he got that right.

Although ironically he may have paved the way for the club to move forward. So we can give him a big kiss should we meet again later this season.

Them: Tough, physical, “limited”, niggly, able to play the referee, Northern. Traditional League Two type side, and the sort of outfit we will do well to emulate.

I can’t pretend I like some of the gamesmanship, but I would rather have that than the gullible, naive bunch of hairdressers we have. Let’s face it, although they came very close on more than a couple of occasions with re-election from the FL, they’re not going to go out of the 91 Club anytime soon.

They may not be the prettiest, but they’re hard. They chased us down, and we had difficulty with that (as we have always had difficulty with those sort of teams). Plus of course they were wily enough to know how to get us into trouble – Jack Midson fell for it hook and sinker, and they succeeded in winding up Sammy Moore, too.

And I’m afraid that we need to be more like them and less what we’ve tried to be for the last couple of years. Perhaps if we had a couple of nasty fuckers in our squad – or if our “ethos” allowed us to sign some – we wouldn’t be in the shit we are right now?

Point to ponder: Which leads me onto this section – what does need to change? We all have our answers, but I wonder if half our problem is this “AFCW Ethos” that we’re clinging onto?

It all seems very gentlemenly, putting more energy into be “seen to do the right thing”, even at the expense of us getting it wrong. It’s been a mindset that has been carved out for the last ten years, and all of a sudden it looks out of place.

TB has represented that “ethos” since he’s been here, and look at how the real world of the Football League has treated him. The club itself seems to have this gentlemanly “old boys” feel that values the personalities more than the actions they’re taking. Which all the while it works (as it did between 2002 and 2010) is acceptable, and stagnates the club when it’s not.

When you get comments about how a new manager will give a fresh slant, we often refer to sorting out tactics and motivation. But there’s more to it – the culture of the club gets reflected by its manager : just about every manager your editor sees in press conferences is either the suave Zola/Poyet foreign types, or the rough-and-ready like Dougie Freedman or Keith Hill.

That’s just the Championship, but they’re even more rough-and-ready lower down – the likes of John Still are still tough as old nails, and aren’t ones to dilly dally and try idealistic football at the expense of results.

The culture of the Football League is more in the Rochdale types than the softly ones like AFCW, especially lower down, and we quite simply need people in who reflect that reality. If a new manager is a bit of a cunt, so be it. If he would rather spend the pre-match planning tactics rather than giving out team lists to the carvery, more power to him.

We’ve tried being nice, of “doing the right thing” and it’s now failing big time. As much as I don’t like us trying to relive 1981-88, we could do with some of that mentality throughout the club right now…

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) The new stand looks nice. Shame it wasn’t full. Oh, and we’ve already got two dents in the roof panels. (2) The much-awaited awning for the back bar is now up. At least, 9/10ths of it is. To be fair, it does have a good use. (3) Anyone else walk in with the slight feeling that it might be better if we lost? Be honest…

Anything else? 3529 there, in an increased capacity stadium. People are starting to vote with their feet a bit right now, and that’s bad news for the club. While I question the commercial department in their apparent screw-every-last-penny approach, there is a commercial aspect to all this debate about our future direction.

I gathered that there wasn’t a match sponsor before the 1889 Club Blue And Yellow Club stepped in at short notice. From the commercial email that I typically deleted, there are more match sponsorships available than I can remember for a long while. Rising prices don’t help, especially when budgets are tighter, but there does appear to be an enthusiasm gap right now.

It didn’t help that the club sold the increase in ticket prices to help with getting better transfer targets in, and apparently the carvery was way down on capacity today. There’s also been reports that some people have cancelled their season tickets – while that may be a bit extreme, for the first time there’s now a creeping resistance coming in.

More and more people are looking at what the club is offering, and deciding against it. So already the club is losing sources of revenue, especially on matchdays. Now, it will be very easy just to dismiss those who have stopped coming as hangers on, and not real fans. The problem is, as pro clubs up and down the country know, we need their money more than those who spend half their earnings on whatever is on offer at KM each week.

“Loyal” customers only go so far – I haven’t done a survey of what people spend their money on at KM, but I would imagine the bulk buy the ticket, some food/drink, the programme and the occasional bit of merchandise. For a special occasion they might go for the hospitality, but not all the time. So they’re not chronic spenders.

If you then make what they might spend their money on less attractive, they’re not going to spend it. Especially when they have to pay more to watch shit that belongs in the Conference, when they were told their higher priced tickets would improve the side.

Can the club handle such drops? It has to – or at least start getting properly creative with its marketing to take the spending pressure off its fanbase. The club has built itself up in the last ten years to even be in this position, but it now needs to rebuild again. A new manager is needed but won’t come for peanuts, and it needs that kind of boss to start enticing back the waverers…

So, was it worth it? Behave.

In a nutshell: Tick tock…