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Roth Justice



Another Saturday at KM, and another defeat. And Marx Bros 0 Chuckle Bros 1 isn’t any easier to take despite knowing Brizzle Rovers and Barnet lost as well. And finding out that Mark McGhee has just been sacked by the Pirates will give them the inevitable new manager bounce that we never got…

This was your editor’s first game (full stop) since Southend, and first game as a paying punter since Cheltenham. While I think we’ve improved from both those games, at least it’s now clear what’s missing.

Unfortunately, if we fail to do anything about the midfield and up front, we’ll be back in non-league football next year. And deservedly so.

Whether it’s true that Gregs will be with us permanently come January remains to be seen – apparently we’ve put a bid in for him – but there’s a real sense that something is missing there. Many say that we need an absolute Grade A cuntstain in the middle of the park, although I think somebody who’s smart enough to get those decisions is more needed.

As for up front…..

Put it this way : when we have to put on Pim – Pim – with 15 minutes to go because we have absolutely nobody else bar an overworked Jack Midson to get anything, it’s no wonder we’re one place above the drop zone.

Were we unlucky, as the OS report headline suggests? To be honest, I don’t know. We battled hard, I suppose, and as said earlier we have at least improved from earlier on in the season – at least our ability to keep plugging away and showing a bit of spirit.

And to be fair, our back line is better these days. Granted, it couldn’t do much worse than the four individuals who stood in defensive positions for most of the past year-and-a-bit (well, you couldn’t really call it a defence, could you?), but we have managed for the most part to keep the opposition down to one or two goals at the most.

But it’s a problem because that’s simply not enough.

So, what? It’s tempting to say that we hope there’s a massive cold snap that not only takes out Port Vale but the Xmas games too. We need Strutton back (not so sure about Banjo, which says a lot) but who the hell we put in the middle of the park to give us something is anyone’s guess. Perhaps MMK could do it? He apparently played there for a time, anyway.

To be honest, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try something like that, because now Gregs has gone back to AFCB (possibly to return, possibly not), we’re even more stretched than usual. It’s only going to be until after Torquay on NYD, and if we don’t do something we’ll lose anyway, so it’s worth taking the risk.

I guess it was a good sign walking out that I wanted to punch a road sign in frustration, as I think that is still my overwhelming emotion even now. If we had kept a clean sheet, I would have been writing stuff like how ugly it was but the point is the main thing.

But it was ugly and we didn’t even get a draw.

I had to look at the League table for a later comment, and I wish I hadn’t because I didn’t want to depress myself any further. But we have what remains of 2012, January and what we need to do during that month. That gives us February through until the end of April to finally get it together and stay up.

And it’s always been the case that providing we make ourselves solid, and hard to beat, we’ll stay up reasonably comfortably each season. See, I don’t really believe even now that we should go down – providing we instill a work ethic and a hard-to-score-against approach, along with the ability to create chances that’s good enough for any club in this division.

And we are starting to dig in, chase and nip at teams. And we are harder to beat nowadays, even if we still get 0 points from too many games. It’s just that we now need some quality to go with it.

Granted, we know we need to rebuild, but at least we’ve got some inkling of what to do. If the back line was still shit, it might have been a restructuring job too far. But it does seem to have stabilised, in no small part thanks to the non-liability called Neil Sullivan, which means we can start thinking about other areas of the field.

Do we need to do as much as we think in the middle of the park? I noticed today that a couple of players were getting in the way of each other, and Rotherham seemed to exploit that. Do we simply need to get a grip in the middle of the park like we’ve managed to do with the back line? Christ, get a few players running at the opposition and who knows…?

Up front is as big as a concern as it has been for a good long while. To be honest, I’m not sure if we would have scored had we still been playing by the time you read this. That is, for those reading this at work on Monday. Strutton was missing this time, for reasons we know not what, and it’s getting irritating that Harrison is yet again on the treatment table.

Still, we have another week to work on what we need to work on, before Port Vale take us apart this time next week. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out too painful…

Plus points: We did battle hard. Ajela had a bit of pace. Did have some half-chances.

Minus points: We lost. Deja vu all over again. Impotent up front. Midfield. Djiali coming on, apparently.

The referee’s a…: Their 12th man, basically. Actually, I think that might suggest something that we still can’t seem to do – play the ref to our advantage. Whether it’s because this set of players aren’t simply clued up enough, I don’t know, but they did appear to get away with things we didn’t.

Them: Usual tough Northern side that we still have trouble overcoming. I hate looking at the League table right now, but they are currently in 4th, and perhaps maybe I can see why (and still makes me think that if we do the necessary in January we’ll stay up relatively comfortably).

Remember this time last year we played them, everyone said how well we played at Don Valley but we still ended up losing? Mind you, Andy Scott was their manager back then, and one wonders if anything would have been different had we got him instead of NA…

Point to ponder: Speaking of NA, I wonder what he’s thinking right now? The table makes horrible reading, and even when we do battle well (as to be fair we did today) we still end up with just one thing against us that costs us the game.

How does he continue to pick up the players this month? Indeed, how does he continue to pick himself up too? I lose track of how many times in this report I’ve mentioned next month as it is (and nobody count up, please), and I guess he too can’t wait for the coach journey back from Torquay to finally start building the side the way he wants it.

Already he’s had a couple of knee-jerk reactions from who have clearly been on the cooking sherry, but one does have to wonder what his position will be if we’re continuing to be this shit come March. By then he would have had one transfer window to put us on the right track, and from his point of view he’s going to need to get most of what he does right enough.

Is it unfair to even be mentioning this just over two months in? Absolutely, but the club’s need to be a Football League side has to come above everything else. If NA ballses up next month, he too will run out of excuses pretty quickly, and the club won’t bend over backwards so much for its managers in future.

Personally, I don’t think it will come to that, and by the sound of “sources close to the club” he deserves to succeed for the amount of hours he’s putting in to make a success of it. He deserves better, not just from his players, but will he get it..?

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Surprised the puritan wing of our support hasn’t complained about BetButler touting their wares before the game yet. Apparently the club gets something if you put a bet on, so at least that will now explain some “mistakes” made on the pitch in future. (2) 3718 wasn’t too bad before Xmas, and does at least suggest people still have enough faith at the moment that we’ll get out of it. Remember some of the attendances early on in the campaign? Even when the KRE was open? (3) The club really has to do something about the way the TVs in the back bar keep cutting out…

Anything else? Should we come out of this intact at the end of the season – or even if we don’t – I think it’s fair to say that we’ve had this club put under more scrutiny than at any time since 2002.

We’ve had it continue this week with the associate director discussion, or lack thereof, and looking at the League table right now really throws things into a sobering and uncomfortable reality.

For the first time, the whole AFCW “thing” is in trouble and with no guarantee of getting out of it. Whether you believe we’ve stopped the rot (and to an extent we have, at least at the back), whether you think we’ll do enough in January (wait and see), and on a wider scale whether you believe the likes of Mike R shouldn’t be coveting more influence (the inescapable fact of his continued donating is, without it this club would be fucked), we’re now having to answer questions not only about where we go on the field, but off it too.

It seems to range from big things like the funding gap to little things like the club finally getting round to selling stock that is close to a decade old. Although I’m surprised that the club didn’t market 10 year old goalkeeper shirts as “retro” and charge double for them.

OK, it was being flogged off because it’s finally been decided that it’s taken up too much space. But even something that inconsequential seems to illustrate a wider symptom that is affecting AFCW right now – namely we’re doing things rather late in the day that should have been done ages ago.

The DT debate about Resolution 10 got taken off the table, but should it have really taken before the most important transfer window of the AFCW era to even bring it up? Especially as it was first thought of in May this year?

Battling for the “soul” of AFCW is all very well, apparently, but not when it has the real potential to cost this club its League placing.

We saw this mentality with the managerial issues earlier this campaign, we’re seeing it with DT debates this past week, and no doubt we’ll see more instances of us doing things in a rush and almost haphazardly because we simply didn’t think about it before we had to.

We have time, but not that much of it now. Come January, we have to get things right enough to remain part of the 91 Club. That’s next month, in fact slightly more than two weeks away. It is not the time for last minute planning, because that will cause us massive damage at the worst possible time.

Right now, everything is being geared towards survival and a close season as a Football League side again. It will be an immensely hard lesson to learn if we fall short…

So, was it worth it? First Saturday game as a fan in two months for your editor. I think I can wait another two months for the next one.

In a nutshell: Enjoy your Xmas.