No, the world didn’t end today.
Never quite understand all this apocalyptic stuff anyway, it’s not like it’s going to be some Hollywood-esque ending. It will probably be a slow decaying disease that cannot be cured, and which gradually shrinks populations the world over.
Unless somebody has inadvertently pressed the nuclear button, and the epicenter of world destruction ends up being a field just outside Stevenage…
Should we lose to second placed Port Vale tomorrow, some of our fans will think that Doomsday was announced a day too early. And seeing our name in the bottom two really isn’t going to make a happy Yuletide period.
But it is still December and not March or April. It might put into sharp focus how much we need to improve, but we knew that anyway. Only this week, NA stated for perhaps the first time that we need experience in the squad. Whether that was always in his mind and he’s only now stated it in public, or whether this is a new development, at least it’s being considered before next month’s fun and games.
Right now, it’s the usual drill that has been written and repeated a fair bit too much this month – just see all the games up to Torquay out, do as best as we can, try and nab an unexpected win from somewhere and go into the transfer window with as little damage as possible.
That does seem to be NA’s attitude, if yesterday’s comments on the OS are anything to go by:
â€œWe are away from home on a big pitch and they are notÂ where they are byÂ luck, just as we are near the bottom not by unfortunate circumstances,â€ he said. â€œWe need to try and turn it around and turn it into that classic clichÃ© of a coupon buster. All we can do is have a really good go at it. We need to go into the match with a game plan and not be naÃ¯ve in our approach”.
You wonder if he’s simply playing the expectations game, or he really doesn’t have enough faith in the squad. Perhaps it’s both? Mind you, it is a bit of a contrast to the “we hope we can get something out of this game” defeatism that we used to have, and given that there seems to be a bit of a fighting spirit these days, it is starting to permeate through.
Sadly, results are everything, and we haven’t won in five games. That said, when we travelled up to Vale Park last season, we hadn’t won in something like thirteen games and we got a win. Could history repeat itself? It would be a nice early present for us if we did.
Looking at the results from last season, it’s quite sobering to see how many runs of form we had without winning. People complain now that NA hasn’t done enough to arrest that, but a calendar year with very few victories is a very hard thing to shift mentally.
Only today, Pim has revealed the squad has been given a target of 10 games to win out of the remaining 24. It sounds a lot, but it isn’t. In fact, the hardest aspect of that is getting the first two, as our Dutch defender pretty much implied.
And oddly enough, I think there’s a different mentality about these days. I can’t be the only one believing that we’re working a lot harder now, that there’s more organisation, that we go out with a game plan rather than an inflexible ideology. It doesn’t always work, but we’re definitely starting to see a work ethic that doesn’t relegate teams.
Indeed, tomorrow’s opposition has come out with the usual polite bon mots, but describing us as a wounded animal? That’s a new one, and perhaps testament to our improving grit and spirit. Though I must resist the temptation to say we’re more like a diseased mutt who is about to be put down…
Maybe if we do get a draw or better tomorrow, he might have had a point. Not only do I think we’ve got a different mentality, but I also think we’ve got a bit of pride back – something I think we lost until recently.
It’s interesting that Pim also pointed out that he expects new players in. If he twigs it, then you can bet the rest of the squad do as well. The rumour mill will be churning out names in the coming 6/7 weeks, some believable and some not.
Some will question whether we will get players who will be “really good” (actual quote that I have read), especially in January. In truth, they just need to be good enough. Most teams in this division don’t have players who are “really good” – they get sold PDQ if they do – but they have a squad that is able to win as many games as they lose.
Whether that’s mentality, attitude, fitness (definitely still lacking with us, though whether that counts under attitude…) or whatever is hard to define. But it’s not beyond us to get in players who can “do the job” so to speak. Teams with smaller attendances and cashflow than ourselves manage it…
True, the collection buckets are coming out out – literally (although it’s undeniably a token gesture for our transfer kitty, and certainly isn’t going to solve L2 level funding issues) – and it remains to be seen how much of the FA Cup money will be given to NA to help us remain in the Football League.
Perhaps we need a bit of spare cash to get back Gregs? As the world and his wife knows now, Bournemouth cancelled his contract yesterday, and for those who like their 2+2=5 scenarios, the club’s Twatter feed retweeted AFCB’s official announcement…