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Grecian 2000

Your editor went to Exeter last night, although like most of the 199 there I wish I hadn’t bothered…

Guess we can safely say that whatever honeymoon period NA has is well and truly over. If he even had one to begin with, that is. There was something depressingly – and worse, disturbingly – familiar about how we played.

Too much pretty passing in the midfield, practically zero cutting edge up front, defence and goalkeeper just simply waiting to make their mandatory errors – as somebody put it last night, who is managing us off the bench again?

And despite all the improvements in our training sessions, that is a very worrying thing to say indeed.

One merely hopes this is a blip and that we reboot ourselves after this and start to show what we were doing against Brizzle Rovers and Fleetwood. As it stands though, we’re back into the one-good-result-three-bad-results rut we’ve been in for too long now.

I’m not sure what NA is thinking right now, but if he’s not aware of how we really are before, he is now. What struck me last night was that while our touch and technique is good, we just simply don’t know how to carry it off effectively. There were times when your editor was thinking why wasn’t there anyone who could put their foot in and just get the ball back whenever we lost it.

Well, we do know why there isn’t anyone, because there’s nobody in our squad who can actually do that. And this is when you realise that we simply HAVE to do something in the January transfer window, and somehow – somehow – get to the end of this calendar year without being cut too far adrift at the bottom.

It’s still early November, but that time can start running very short if we don’t get out of this mental rut we’ve gone back into. It’s becoming more apparent that we will probably have to do what we did last January, and get five new players in while shipping the same amount out.

I’ve now got to the stage where we should cash in on whoever we can if a club is desperate/stupid enough to come in for them, because I really think the old squad needs to be broken up as much as we can in the time we have.

Not to the extent of the 14-player cull that we saw in the summer, but last night illustrated that the old mentality is too ingrained for it to help us. Even if we break up some of it, that’s going to help for this season.

That’s why I guess NA brought in Reeves and Meades and started them. And will likely start them most games – it’s almost as if to say that nobody in the squad is irreplacable and if we will try and change things, we will.

Thinking about it, it was a warning shot, and one for the permanent players to think long and hard about on their journey back last night. We’ve gone back to old habits too quickly, and I seriously doubt that hasn’t gone un-noticed.

Because right now, we’re in trouble. How much we are in is only going to become clear around February time, because there is still that all-important first month of 2013 to come. But if we don’t do surgery when we can, we will be a Conference side next season as quite simply some of this squad isn’t good enough for the Football League.

It got a collective boost from the new boss coming in, but they haven’t sustained it. And their chances to do so are running out, because too many more of these performances before January and the hard decisions will be made.

One suspects that if NA could replace more of the squad for Saturday, he would.

There are many points to ponder right now, like what NA is going to do with somebody like Midson – he is now only a matter of games away from being labelled a one season wonder. OK, him being stuck on the wing doesn’t help matters, but his stock has fallen big time, probably more than any other player.

Mind you, is Midson being sacrificed because Jolley has simply failed to step up to Football League standard? I certainly won’t notice Jolley if he’s shunted out in the next couple of months, because he’s a big reason why Midson is so ineffective right now.

Are we playing Byron simply because we spent a lot of money on him and we’re obliged to do so?  He seemed to go back to his old bad self again, and at a time when we need our forwards scoring, he didn’t look close to doing so.

What do we do with the likes of Warren Cummings? Do we give Antwi a contract? Would you honestly think we’ll regress if we didn’t? A tad unfair, maybe, but a poor loss like last night does that to your thinking.

It goes further. We need to think what exactly to do with Seb Brown – do we replace Priddy with a new coach who may be able to cut out SB’s inevitable clangers? Do we look around to see if there are more solid keepers about, just to help break that circuit (with the fact in mind that Brown is still only early 20s)?

I’m sure there are other things to think of, but it’s certainly clear that we have to make them now. One is mindful of the budget constraints, but even shipping some out on loan will free up some wages. People may bitch about sugar daddies and all that (while expecting Mike R and co to constantly hand over yet more dough, without any hint of irony), but we might be relying on a non-league version of that to help us out.

Hell, the best thing for us is for TB to get a job with an ambitious non-league club, and he can buy up half the shit he brought in during the summer 😉

At the time of writing (and will therefore appear about 30 seconds after I submit this), we haven’t heard from NA from last night. And it will be one of the most interesting post-match interviews for a while, as we will now get to find out what he’s really thinking.

For the first time, though it had been threatening against York apparently, he got to see the bad side of us, and shows exactly why we’re down the wrong end of the table. It’s his first genuine big test of his tenure, and it’s not like he will have any loyalty to existing squad members.

We’ll see where we are after our second trip to Bootham Crescent on Saturday, but there should be some nervous players around right now. And I have no sympathy for any of them…

A few other thoughts from last night : once again, we play a team on a shit run of form and part our arse cheeks for them. It really is humiliating to listen to the opposition fans chanting about how shit we must be because they’re beating us.

But then, that kind of thing merely highlights our collective mentality that is still there. If we are to survive as a L2 side, we need to go to struggling teams and at least not lose to them. This morning, we seem as far away from doing that as ever.

As you can see from the picture above, we might have found a rival for our Shittiest Away End title – step forward the away terrace at SJP. Which is about a mile away from the field and about as shallow as the ex-JS. At least our East Stand has a roof…

There was just one individual short of the 200 mark on said terrace last night, which isn’t quite such a bad turnout in the L2 scheme of things – and does at least suggest we are able to get a relatively decent number of people each away game.

No, we’re not taking 300/400 like we were last season, but the novelty has worn off, we’re playing too shit at the moment for people to make the (costly) effort to skive off work – staying down in Exeter last night wasn’t cheap – and we’re seeing why clubs take 200 on Saturday games in this division.

Finally, and nothing to do with the game last night – could the club just be a bit more explicit in ticket sales on their website about walk-ins? If they’re not available on a certain day, don’t shunt that information down the bottom and cause those who turn up on such a day embarrassment (or worse…).

While our comms has got better under Chris Slavin, there’s still this mentality of “well, you should know that information anyway” about. In reality, many of us don’t, especially if you don’t spend every waking hour on t’internet. Many if not most people have neither the time nor the outright desire to scrabble around for information which would be useful to know.

Remember – it costs nothing to be helpful…