Tomorrow is a great day for anyone called Christmas, because for the only time this year he gets to come…
Anyway, it’s a busy night for the boys and girls across the world, as some bearded gentleman with a massive sack is going to offer his goodies. Which means one thing – another arrest under Operation Yewtree on the cards this evening.
Mind you, if this time of year is for both giving and receiving, I think AFCW might have had an unexpected early present on Saturday…
This site has made far too much mention of the amount of games we still have to get through the remainder of this month, which is why the news of the Port Vale postponement really did feel like the festivities had started early.
For those who spent all day having to drink in Stoke, with a large train fare to be paid for, it might not appear that way. And my deepest sympathies to anyone who suffered – your editor still has nightmares of Ewood Park when they called the game off at 2.56pm…
But at the risk of yet another Xmas-related pun, it really was a blessing for us.
We went into the bottom two Friday night, and if the season was to end now, you know exactly what that means. Even if the fact that it’s Brizzle Rovers of all teams keeping us from being 92nd of the Football League.
Had Saturday gone ahead, it’s perfectly possible we would have been rock bottom going into Boxing Day, and our mood would have been pretty lousy. As it stands, we have one less game with this current squad to deal with, and one more to play with a changed one.
No, I’m not hoping Boxing Day gets called off. Honest. But at least we’ve only got seven days/three games left before we can start doing mid-season rebuilding, and that can’t come quick enough.
It seems that the as-yet-unannounced rearranged fixture will happen within the next month, although the OS said sometime in the New Year. With luck we’ll try and push it back as late as possible within January, to give ourselves more of a chance of going up there with a changed squad.
Maybe it will even get rearranged after the Thursday game against PV, on the Sunday? At least your editor can go to the re-arranged fixture, though hopefully I won’t have wished I hadn’t come the full time whistle…
Apparently, the players on Twatter were moaning like fuck about the game getting called off. OK, players always want to play games, but I wonder how many of them also saw one of the last chances to justify to NA that they should be here in January go?
If they’ve got to that stage, then it’s obviously touch and go whether they would stay anyway – they’ve now had two months under the new regime, and that’s more than enough time for the big decisions to be made.
If they can dig in enough and get points out of the two home games (wins are certainly preferred, but draws aren’t the end of the world), they might have done enough for this season – just.
But if the current squad haven’t run out of time, they will have by a week on Wednesday. The transfer window opens, and the phone calls start flying. And it’s not up to them whether they want to stay. If they have an uncomfortable Xmas Day tomorrow, then I have no sympathy for them.
Before Christmas Day last year, SW19 found itself writing some pretty familiar stuff. In fact, the following could have been written today:
Could we go out this year in a relative blaze of glory? A last hurrah for some of these squad members who probably wonâ€™t be in the Football League for much longer? A final â€œwe still have something to offer you, bossâ€ statement? If we do, it will make Christmas a bit more cheerful than it could otherwise be.
Still, we wonâ€™t be the only ones looking around for new talent. Right now there will be plenty of stories from managers saying similar things to TB â€“ only this morning, Neil Warnock was saying that if he could sign players on January 1st, he would. Will that make our life easier? Or harder? We may end up getting in the odd bidding war for a player we really need, which weâ€™d obviously prefer not to do.
But we have got to the stage where if it takes another couple of hundred quid a week to secure a player who will help us, we bite the bullet. Iâ€™m sure you can dig out old commentaries by Erik Samuelson about signing players who want to come for us, and how we donâ€™t hold ourselves to ransom. That was back in non-league days, where we still had a lot of legitimate clout and influence over that pool of talent. Weâ€™re now a struggling League Two side, and we donâ€™t have that luxury of picking and choosing on our (financial) terms.
It hasn’t said much for the progression of the club that what was written a year ago almost to the day still applies now. Thankfully, we are a bit less naive in December 2012 than we were in December 2011, and (at least in some quarters) more acutely aware of what the ultimate failure this season will be.
You can’t blame anyone for living on their nerves right now, as this will be the most important transfer window of the AFCW era. A look at the League table right now will confirm that for any doubters.
Indeed, it will be interesting how we approach it – it’s possible we might get a swap loan or two with a Conference side. Now, your editor doesn’t really like the idea of dipping back into non-league when half our squad is non-league to begin with, but if we’re after a certain type of player and we don’t get a L2 one then needs must.
If they’re stronger and fitter than what we have right now, then they’ll be better than what we currently have. Some of those released may technically be L2 players but if they’ve had over eight weeks to get themselves up to the proper levels and haven’t….
Could there be a shock departure? We can only wait to find out, but as long as we get the money for them and move PDQ for a suitable replacement, that’s all that matters. I don’t have much sentiment or loyalty to this squad, as they’ve been too poor and underachieving for far too long.
We could (and perhaps should) have had a better Xmas this year than we’re going to, but it could have been a lot worse. Traditionally, in the WFC era, we always seemed to start kicking on around Xmas/New Year, and Neal Ardley himself was part of that.
I don’t doubt that he’s secretly glad we got a little lifeline with Saturday’s postponement, and while Boxing Day is going to be a hard one, it’s not impossible. He’s got a lot to think about over Xmas dinner, and I don’t just mean whether he wants extra gravy, but we’re not adrift at the bottom and we’re due a good run of results.
And let’s face it – after the shit we’ve been served up this last year, the players owe us a decent present this Christmas…