Yeah, I know that SW19 hasn’t been updated for a while. Blame me being in Amsterdam and other things happening. And no, I haven’t needed surgery on my arsehole after spending too much time in De Wallen…
Actually, I’m going to remain in the Netherlands for this opening salvo – this time last week, I went to Utrecht v Groningen. It wasn’t a very good game – although FCU won 1-0, and are currently 6th in the Eredivise, their finishing was on a par with ours and I think we managed to have better ball control. And this from the nation that gave us Total Football.
Anyway, I was left with a couple of impressions about Utrecht. One, it’s a nice place to visit, a bit like the sort of place Andre Rieu would hold an open air concert in. Secondly, they have absolutely fuck all infrastructure around the ground – no bars (apart from members ones), absolutely no burger vans or anything bar the odd portakabin that sold the odd scarf. If you got there early, you were pretty much wasting your time.
Then again, Dutch football does have a well deserved reputation of having pretty nasty hooliganism so even at this low key game they still wanted you inside the ground pretty quickly (when I arrived in Amsterdam over a week ago, this is what was going on at the exact same time I landed).
Thirdly, when you do get inside the ground, you get a free programme which is as readable as ours, but also what you see below:
Yes, it is a plastic coin that looks remarkably like a â‚¬1 coin. Size and shape wise, that is – I don’t think the European Bank has ever planned having a FCU motif on it somehow.
Anyway, if you have proper legal tender and you want your bier or dubious tasting hamburger, you can’t spend it. Instead, you have to get these tokens out of a vending machine and use them instead. Quite a brilliant idea, as it goes…
How so? Here’s something to keep a mental note of next time you’re at KM. Chances are, if you buy a programme, some grub and a beer you tend to break into a Â£10 or other note (unless you’ve got lots of shrapnel in your pocket). Seriously, next time you’re buying stuff at a game just see what you use to pay your goods with.
Now, they seem to have twigged this at FCU, because needless to say, your editor had precious few coins but a couple of â‚¬10 notes. And a couple of beers and a bit of grub comes to….. Meaning you may have to break into another note, and as you can’t spend it in the outside world, you simply have to buy their products.
And yes, I know you can save up your tokens throughout the season, but I’m not exactly a regular at the Stadion Galgenwaard.
I’m surprised that AFCW haven’t thought about something like this. After all, it is a good way of getting more money out of people, and that’s what matters most… 😉
Anyway, back to Blighty, and we now have a seven day period coming up that is not only going to test our mettle but our ability to travel on a cramped coach. York then Exeter then York again is going to be murder, and I guess we’ll be glad when we leave Bootham Crescent for the second time.
Thankfully, your editor is giving York a swerve, at least for tomorrow, as to be blunt I absolutely hate going there. If we can leave there with something tangible both times, that will be a result and a half. Ditto Exeter, althoughÂ I would like to be at that game. Though hotel prices down there aren’t cheap for anything remotely decent, and one senses I’m too late to get the train…
We do seem to be about to get the first proper stamps on what the NA era will be like. Already, he is after two loanees (and doesn’t he hint that he would like more?). If his comment about his head being on the line in this other article is anything to go by, his attitude is one that he has to get it right – and quick.
Whether he will succeed remains to be seen, although the first impressions are promising. But at least he knows his job isn’t safe, even if it happens to be one of the most secure in the entire Football League right now.
The rumour mill is suggesting that our new boss is putting in a HUGE amount of hours in at the moment, which can be dangerous if he’s having to do too much. If that is the case, then the support from his own backroom staff and the club itself has to up its game too.
This week, we’ve found out that Sammy Moore may well do some scouting for us. Not only does that keep him within the loop (remember his comments about wanting his mate as the boss?), and gives him a bit of proper responsibility, but it also means we have an additional scout without having to pay extra for one.
Remember that Bradford boss Phil Parkinson said that we were pretty easy to plan against, which suggested a sore lack of preparation on our part. Just about every report from the Gillingham game I’ve read says that we got our game plan correct – eventually. Or at least, we knew what to do when we went 1-0 down. That is down to good planning, which comes from doing your homework properly. Even if we’re still not strong enough in the squad to always implement it.
Can we win tomorrow and on Tuesday and again the following Saturday? We probably won’t win all of them, in fact I expect us to lose at least one of the games at York. But it does appear we’re planning properly these days, and who knows…?
Finding ourselves in the FAC draw the next time SW19 updates would be another step in the right direction – psychologically, as much as anything. We’ve never really had good FAC runs in the AFCW era. The first round draws we have had in the past against Wycombe and Millwall always ended up disappointing, and even getting past Scunthorpe last season was tempered by meekly surrendering at Bradford.
Losing tomorrow won’t be the end of the world, but it would be damn nice if we could leave without being defeated.
One thing that will help is whether some of the previously underachieving players will now start to look like League Two regulars. We may get to see MMK and C-Mac back involved within the next nine days. The latter one is especially interesting, as it’s pretty obvious he would have been yet another one culled during last summer had he been fit.
Your editor saw him at the FA Yoof Cup game this week (and more on that later), and he had a really happy demeanour about him. Whether it’s because he knows his knee is OK, or just simply a change of manager – it’s an open secret he was seen as persona non grata under the old regime – we don’t know. However, it’s best to have happy players and ones who want to play for you.
We probably won’t see him or MMK tomorrow, although tellingly we will see Gregory. So maybe AFCB really will let us have him for the rest of the season? Interesting coup if so, especially as he was brought in to save TB’s job.
Other than that, it’s the eight day grind ahead. As said earlier, your editor did get to see the FA Youth cup on Wednesday, and they showed good technique and decent touches. They need to take their chances more, and they did try and be over-elaborate at times, but we were comfortable throughout.
We face Cheltenham next, and that will be a lot tougher. But like the first team, who knows what a run and some good wins will do? Oh, and NA did the MoM presentation afterwards – guess he knows the real value of keeping those from the Academy as involved with the whole first team setup…
Oh, and if we win, we get to play Spurz. No pressure, like.