Blimey, it’s all happened since Monday, hasn’t it?
The big(ish) news this morning is that NA has won the Manager of the Month for December. Yes, I know that the only award we would have given him post-Mansfield would have been doused in acid, but in many ways it’s not a surprise.
Beating Wycombe (FAC), York, Pompey and Exeter in a month that could have seen us get 0 points from any of them is a good return, and it would be hard to justify giving it to anyone else.
We know that the Liverpool game pushed us to the next level, but maybe that draw helped us through last month – players playing for the right to be patronised by Gary Lineker on national (and international) telly.
By the way, apparently over six million watched us on Monday night. Imagine if we’d drawn or even won…
The problem with this award is that in the unwritten rules of football, we will now struggle to get so much of a point at St. Evenage tomorrow.
There’s always the danger of the post FAC comedown, not just at Broadhall Way but for the rest of the month as well. It will be the first proper test this season of how good we really are.
Overcome January like we did December, and people will start getting giddy. Repeat our November form though, where we won one league game, and you’ll have to hide the cutlery again.
Oddly, we’ve always done well in the first month of the year, which certainly means 2015 will start off shit. Then again, half-season reviews have taken place, and the transfer window is well and truly open…
And transfers we must talk about, because there’s been a lot of them since Steven Gerrard’s free kick. The biggest one, and probably the least surprising of the lot, is Tubbs going to Pompey.
You kind of expected it, although I didn’t expect it to be all done by Thursday. If truth be told, it’s been on the cards for a while, and we didn’t really see a drop-off in form.
A couple will say that if his head was turned, we shouldn’t have played him against Liverpool. While I thought he was a bit disappointing against them, you don’t drop one of your best players out of spite.
After all, that’s what many were claiming NA was doing last season with Midson.
There’s been a couple of grumbles that Tubbs wasn’t saying things like how he had a good time with us. Well, so what if he didn’t? Ultimately, Tubbs is a professional footballer who will go where he gets the best deal, and like it or not, Pompey is a better destination for him.
You know, like we were a better destination for him than Crawley were in the summer.
It’s a better destination off the field, anyway. Your editor is heading to Bournemouth v Naarwich tomorrow for the nationals, and as Tubbs lives nearby, if a local club with deeper pockets offers me one decent pay day without dealing with the M3, I’d go there.
And you would too.
Pompey are obviously paying him shitloads, and I’m not sure if they can really afford it – even with their five figure crowds. But they “need” to be heading up the divisions again, just like we “needed” to be out of the Ryman Prem and the Conference South.
How well he’ll do there I don’t know. He’ll score goals for them, but will their supporters give him as much of a break during his inevitable lean spell?
Mind you, Tubbs never seemed “loved” at AFCW. Respectful, yes, and more than grateful for his goals. But people love BMO and Tubbs was always playing a distant second fiddle to him. Maybe that’s why he seemed less than upset to go…
Still, we need to replace him. One player who won’t be coming is perennial favourite Danny Kedwell, who genuinely managed to shock everyone by signing for Ebbsfleet.
If NA was getting pissed off with Midson, I shudder to think how he would have dealt with DK’s arrangements. I guess we can finally put his return to bed, and not before time either. He would have been a disappointment, and to be blunt, we need to move on.
The player we could miss most of all will be Barrett. His loan is up, and according to December’s Manager of the Month we would have to wait until the end of January to even hear whether we could get him.
That’s a long time to a) wait on a 35 year old’s status, and b) rely on Benno. Which is probably no surprise that not only have we managed to extend Goodman’s loan until the end of the season, but we’ve got Adedeji Oshilaja from Cardiff on loan too.
So in the space of a day the average age of our back line has gone down to 45.
Our defence has creaked a bit too much this season, probably literally, especially as Framps is out until the end of the season (and more or less for good). So at least we’ve got two youngsters who are genuinely considered gooduns.
It will take a couple of games to bed in, but then we’ve only replaced one CB with one who wasn’t here already. In fact, it’s surprising how little we’ve done in the transfer market thus far.
Jake Reeves also came in this week, pretty much under the radar, and I’m surprised he’s only 21. If you assume that NA will be here next season, he’s obviously starting to build for the future.
Oshilaja and Goodman may not be ours, but they’re both 21 as well. That’s a definite change from the thirtysomethings we get from the retirement home in defence.
One can assume that in the summer, when we have to properly look at the back line, we may go for a similar player who is out of contract. Framps unfortunately will likely have to retire, Benno isn’t getting any younger, so we might as well go down a different route.
With all this going on, we lost our two impact subs as well. Chris Arthur was pretty much nailed on to go to Woking, and it’s not really a surprise that KSL is out as well.
He was a strange one, KSL. Lest we forget he was signed on a bit of a whim during NA’s first season, and it was always more of a gamble than a carefully planned transfer.
Back then, due to the fuckup of the previous summer, we were desperate to get in any player who could make a difference, and his pace was certainly different.
Like Arthur though, and like Andy Clarke for the older heads, he ran around a lot to scare defences for a few minutes before fizzling out. It never really quite happened, and that’s probably why he’s on his bike.
Granted, while we don’t know what is going on during training sessions, although right now NA can point to the recent win/loss record and feel vindicated, but his style of playing obviously is at odds with what is wanted.
Finally, and you’ll be getting many more reminders of this for the next week or so – if you still haven’t done so, sign the #bringthedonshome thing.
If you still haven’t done it, a little pointer – try and personalise it a bit. If you live near the decrepit dog track, say you’re a local resident and it will do wonders for your locality.
If you live in other parts of Merton (like your editor), mention things like how few leisure facilities there are in the borough, our community work, and also that you won’t take your car to the games.
Hell, if you live a distance away, say you’ll be spending money in the locality that otherwise wouldn’t be coming in while you’re at it.
Just minor little things. It won’t take you too long to do, and numbers do help in this kind of thing. You really have no excuse…