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I hope that headline isn’t the most creative thing you’ll read about AFCW v Mansfield…

When your editor put out the siren for any thoughts by the SW19 readership on this rather horrible sounding game, I only received two very brief submissions. Which obviously told you how few people wanted to relive it.

First up, John Lynch:

Best summed up as a load of what hangs south of the belt buckle on the male anatomy

And then, a haiku from Tudor:

Mansfield are crap and
We’ve got the ball! what to do?
Best pass it sideways!

Actually, I did receive an offer from another reader for a fuller report. However, as he admitted it would be depressing, I decided not to follow it up. I don’t want to be responsible for him being found in his loft with his feet dangling later this week because of it.

The post game reaction said it all really – a shit sandwich and a half. That somehow could have got even worse if Ross “Stuck On The A3” Worner hadn’t put his saving gloves on.

Though I shudder to think what the reaction would have been if one of those saves hadn’t been successful – christ, the post-game kneejerkism on Saturday was squealing enough as it was…

There were some caveats : Pell and Sideways Sammy were missing. Ditto Benno. Weston had a knock, so Fuller had to play CB, and we only could field five subs. Four if you don’t include Antwi, which your editor doesn’t.

And besides, we were playing a side who were bang out of form. So I suppose if anything we should be happy with the point 😉

We should be doing better though, and one senses that we really are looking forward to making a couple of moves (in and out of KM) in the January transfer window. We only have three more games before we can start opening the warchest and giving maps to the new homes of certain players.

And given that Smith and a couple of the other loanees are due back at their parent clubs on the 4th January, one suspects we might need to initially move quickly, at least up front.

If Smith doesn’t remain with us (and given Charlton’s predicament right now, especially with their takeover and Chris Powell’s job possibly being on the line, that’s as clear as the Rochdale PA system), then it’s basically Teddy’s kid and not a lot else.

Midson is obviously on his way out, though that’s nothing that hasn’t been obvious for a good while, and will we miss Kaid Mohammed? His one big contribution seemed to be against Pompey and hasn’t had rave reviews since.

Midfield? Dunno, it seems to be a bit of a weak spot too. Not quite so urgent as sorting out our forward line, but one would hope there’s one or two in the pipeline.

After so many seasons where our back line has looked like Belgium in 1940, that’s ironically the less problematic – it’s quite decent, especially when it’s Benno and Framps together, although whether Antwi will find himself getting loaned out to the local glue factory for the season “to get game time” remains to be seen.

And anyway, Fuller played at CB and we kept a clean sheet on Saturday.

None of this will help the mood of those who got to witness the Mansfield game, though. A lot of our performances have been awful to watch, although the stats will show we’re a lot nearer the playoffs than the drop zone.

Even writing on this game from afar, it seems our problems are lacking that extra bit of spark to score goals and push on to win games. We’re not the only side in this division to say that, in fact that’s usually the difference between playoff contenders and those in the middle of the pack.

That said, you do have to wonder why we were apparently so shit on Saturday when we had a 14 day break from competitive action. Perhaps it’s nothing more than simply needing to move to the second stage of the massive rebuilding job we started in the close season?

When you look at it in that way, it makes sense. Think about what we had to do in the close season – practically a new squad, a more formulaic way of playing (rather than constantly having to bail out water), NA properly being able to put sports science in, and an absolute necessity to make sure we were comfortable in the division.

That’s a lot of upheaval, and it has worked well enough thus far – it’s lasted us until two weeks before the transfer window, not limping towards it from October (or even September) onwards.

True, we might have to do a bit more rebuilding in certain areas than perhaps we would want at this stage, we still let in the first goal all too easily, and our continued inability to beat teams whose form is shit is a big problem.

But they’re not insurmountable.

We do need a win or two before the Xmas period is out, if only to keep us mentally ticking over. The points help as well, and we’re practically half way towards the guaranteed safety target already.

One other observation from reading about Saturday : there were a few boos at the end of the game, and I wouldn’t particularly blame people for doing so if it was as bad as it sounds.

If anything, I think our fanbase has been a bit too tolerant of horseshit performances in recent years, and a jab to the collective ego doesn’t hurt once in a while.

Obviously, it can be counter-productive when it’s not needed, and just makes you look like a spoilt bastard, but it won’t do too much damage for the players/manager to know they won’t get a free pass every week any more.

Expectations have undoubtedly risen, the happy-to-have-a-club-to-support mantra is long gone (and not before time too), and tolerance levels have been tested a lot in recent seasons.

Perhaps too much, in truth.

As a fanbase, I think we’re actually quite level headed for the most part, a few giddy types/kneejerkists notwithstanding. It might start happening more often now, although given the way that much of the club has moved on, should anyone be surprised if the fans follow suit…..?