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Entering the Business End

No, that is not a very late Valentine’s Day euphemism…

This season has been going since Tuesday 14th August, where we put in a display against Stevenage that we’ve practically carried on for most of the season. That was six months ago, and we now have ten more Saturdays to ensure we’re back playing in the Capital One Cup again in 2013/14.

It’s quite a sobering thought that our survival aspirations could be very badly damaged by the time we leave Whaddon Road on the 2nd March. If we enter into March five points from safety, we really would find it difficult to catch up by then.

And the five games from tomorrow until then – Bradford and Northampton at Theme Park KM (the place where all visitors go home happy), a trip to the Daggers, and a chance to relive THAT Plymouth game from last season again inbetween meeting up with Byron again – are certainly no bankers.

It is actually quite possible that we could lose all five of them. Equally, it’s possible that we can avoid defeat in those five contests, which would be a genuine step forward in our survival hopes.

So it’s a difficult, tense time in what has turned out to be a bloody awful season. And one that seems more down to self-infliction than ever.

Your editor is working for the Monday national papers at the game tomorrow (SW19 report will be up Sunday afternoon, assuming I haven’t done an Oscar Pistorius by then), and I hope the team doesn’t test my professionalism. I’m really not sure what I’m going to write if MMK and Pim play and do what they’ve done for far too many times this season…

As supporters though, we are more than entitled to question the resolve and professionalism of the squad. Both the players and the management have been on the end of some pretty fierce slaggings off this week, and you can’t say they haven’t been justified.

It may be the most painful thing to admit that January could have ended up being our purple patch this season. And you think of how we blew the leads in three of those games, and how much genuine distrust there is of the team’s collective character not to make the usual fuckups that cost points.

I’m starting to sense a growing amount of irritation with this squad now, and it’s not just me. We know they’re capable of getting out of it, but the reason why a fair amount of our support are already writing us off is because we don’t believe they won’t make mistakes.

At times like this, players always give out the usual platitudes that they want fans to hear. They’re pro footballers, after all, and there’s nothing they like better than to have their egos stroked by fans.

Well, either that or their dicks.

Even so, things must have been really tense in the squad if both NA and a player or two have mentioned the clear-the-air talks that happened after Chesterfield (and one wonders if there was another one on Monday morning too).

Indeed, I find our manager’s comments on the OS intriguing:

“It has been a good week,” he said. “Everyone is emotional after a game and we had a bit of a debate with the players after last Saturday’s performance. But I challenged myself afterwards too. Am I taking pressure off the lads and letting them play with the freedom to go and get results? Maybe not and now we have to change a few things and get more positivity into the camp.

“Win, lose or draw on Saturday that positive focus has to remain as there is still almost a third of the season to go. It is part of my football philosophy that players should play with no fear. Maybe that has crept in because of the pressure of our situation. Though we still have to do our jobs and know everything about the opposition, we have to play with no fear.”

Hmm, maybe he feels that he now has to go for broke with this collection of players and just simply blow smoke up their arses to soothe their fragile egos? Still, if it keeps us in the division…

Obviously, there’s the usual bon mots about it being “a good week”, and unfortunately I’m as much expecting bloodletting at 5pm tomorrow as I am with a post-match glow of a good result.

But on the surface at least, we do collectively know we now need good reactions and to get actual points on the board. Not just the usual sitting back, losing a game and constantly tell ourselves that the wins will inevitably come.

With our current attitude, they won’t.

I have to admit, I’ve honestly got no idea what to expect tomorrow. Bradford are obviously going to be buzzing (the favourite word of the braindead pro footballer) after stuffing Wycombe in the week, they’ve got the COC final next weekend and a look at the table doesn’t help your outlook for the game.

Not to mention that Alan Bennett may be out and we have to put up with the worst defensive centre back pairing in the whole of the Football League again.

Of course, we might get fortunate for once and hit the Bantams on a day where they’re thinking about the lyrics to their Cup Final song. A couple of, ahem, “passionate” early tackles by us and who knows? And yes, I know that’s out of character for us, but everything else we’ve tried this season hasn’t worked so we might as well see if they’ve got any guts.

A win tomorrow is obviously the best result, though a draw with a very hard-fought confidence booster of a performance will do. And then we go again against Northampton, and if we somehow get something from that…?

The truth is, it’s pointless to speculate how we’re going to do, because we’ve genuinely got no idea with this collection of players. What is clear is that the talk now has to become action, and we’re very good at talking.

Three months to save our League placing has now quickly become two-and-a-bit months, and before we know it we’ll be in March. And this bunch of bullshitters will have run out of their usual excuses.

We’re now entering into the stage of the season where the liars get exposed, where the phonies are shown up and where the ones who prefer action to talking prevail. It’s when the talking stops and the action starts. History is littered with teams who fail at this stage of the season, and there will many more this campaign too.

We’ve waited six months for this lot to prove they’re not gobshites, and now they have to prove it…….