Is it safe to come back yet?
I think it’s fair to say that the almost-forgotten-but-certainly-not-forgiven Cambridge debacle has thoroughly managed to piss people off this week. And in a way that I don’t think I’ve experienced for some time.
Maybe it’s because of the way we went ahead then seemed to hold on for the remaining 89 minutes and 40 seconds, or the sheer predictability of it all? Whatever it was, when you get universal condemnation like there was after the game, and for well beyond the weekend, it must have been a bad one.
Unsurprisingly, NA got a lot of brickbats aimed against him, and won’t help him to make it in a make-or-break season for him. But Neil Cox came under a lot of fire as well, especially when people saw their second goal again, and once again the patience has been tested.
That was last week, and this is now, although it doesn’t make for a good buildup for Sunday. Things have been very low key this week – some of it has been spent licking a few wounds, but you would hope that most of that is down to acute embarrassment from last Saturday, and it’s a determination to put it right.
When you get results/performances like this, it does ramp up the scrutiny. For example, there’s been more than a few chinwags about KSL and why he isn’t playing. So much so that NA had to address this directly.
Look, I don’t think KSL has improved enough to be anything more than an impact sub, and I doubt if he’ll be here in January, let alone June, but he’s one of the handful of players who actually offers something a bit different from the norm.
Which is probably why Ardley doesn’t really know what to do with him.
To further fuel this, I found the comments by Reevsie this week intriguing about our man who should avoid Cardiff nightclubs:
“Kevin Sainte-Luce has been disappointed not to be in the first-team and that’s understandable, but he’s still been coming in with smile on his face. He’s been getting his head down and getting on with it and last week he was asking me if this game would definitely be on. They’re all keen to play and want to get minutes under their belts.”
Hmm. Coming in with a smile on his face? Getting his head down? Asking if the game is on? Doesn’t sound like somebody with a bad attitude. Perhaps he’s the yang to the ying that was Charlie Sheringham?
(OK, quick explanation about that last comment – Teddy’s kid was often praised by NA for doing exactly what he wanted to in training, and played games for that reason – forgetting he was pretty shit in proper matches. KSL seems to be the opposite).
It’s not a good sign when people are already semi-joking about swapping KM for the training ground to see good play. It’s also not helpful to NA’s cause when he makes these insinuations, because it makes him look every inch the robotic UEFA coaching manual zealot.
We’ve lost Chris Arthur, presumably for good, because of this “attitude” away from the ground, and while we’re obviously not privy to what goes on between staff and players, it’s curious that two similarly styled players are frozen out.
Whatever is going on, the sense of underachievement for this season is already starting to take hold – especially with a forward line that just about every other L2 side would kill for.
Indeed, one wonders if NA is starting to feel jumpy because of that, if his “judge us at the end of the season” comment is anything to go by.
Of course, getting an u21 setup and an Academy that has any remote resemblance to a youth policy is great. But we had the “look at what I’ve done in the last three years” stuff in the last twelve months of the TB era, and look how that ended up.
Make no mistake, this is a very, very important six months for NA. After the Cambridge game, there were many who were saying that should Ardley leave at the end of the season, they wouldn’t be disappointed.
In a way, or even in many ways, we may not need our current manager beyond this campaign. He was brought in to sort out the utterly dreadful youth system, which to his immense credit he has done to a large degree.
The trouble is that if he’s only going to take us to 16th each season, we might as well get a Conference South manager in for half his wages.
One could argue that we lost out on established managers in October 2012 because the setup was so horribly amateur. The next boss won’t have that absolute mess to sort out (a mess that the more you hear about two years down the line actually sounds even worse than it did at the time – again, give NA full credit for even attempting to salvage it).
If our manager was to quit on Monday morning, he would have done his job with us. A compliment, certainly, but also doesn’t say a lot about how much he’s progressed beyond that.
There is still time. If I was NA right now, apart from vowing never to read this place, I would be digging out Shaun North’s phone number this instant and asking him to join the first team coaching staff.
And then get onto the blower to the powers-that-be and demand extra funds to pay him.
The phrase “no brainer” is as apt as it will ever be. North is willing to work at any level, he lives within a reasonable distance, and somebody needs to give NA different advice during games, which we need more than ever.
In the meantime, we head to Adams Park. It could be a good kick-up-the-anal-passage for us, because a) it’s the FAC and therefore anything can happen, and b) we need to demonstrate we’ve shown a little bit of improvement.
At least there is some excitement building – the club this morning announced there were 500 tickets remaining, so if you assume we’re getting behind the goal that’s going to be some turnout.
Unless they shove us in the side where they put Burton, that is.
AFCW fans are no different to any other set of supporters, and never underestimate how much of a lift victory will give us. Hell, even a replay keeps the interest up – especially if the third round gives us a great tie.
The rather muted buildup has been rather notable this week, though, and sometimes we downplay things for no reason. A bit of get-up-and-go will be needed for a win at Buckinghamshire’s legitimate FL club, and we’re certainly capable of it.
Playing on Sunday is a bit of an odd one, especially as it’s not on the telly, although from your editor’s point of view we should have more of them. If ever there was a time to have one of those sort of games, now is the time.
And by “those sort”, I mean the other “those sort” and not the one we had last Saturday.
Need your appetite whetted? Try this for size.
Mind you, it was so long ago even our boss hadn’t made the first team by that stage…