And to think we are now three months football free.
And try saying that when you have had a few…
A full set of thoughts and opinions of the season just gone will appear on here later in the week. It all finished somewhat meekly with a 1-1 draw against Cheltenham, of which Tudor offers his usual haiku:
Still can’t beat shit teams.
Although Jack Smith’s brave header
Salvages a draw.
And Oli Duffy gives something a bit more comprehensive…
If you were optimistic or perhaps naïve, like me, then you may have turned up at Kingsmeadow on the final day of the season hoping, perhaps expecting, that Wimbledon fans would be treated to a few good goals and a win against relegated opposition to add a bit of shine to the season’s close.
However, as this season has ultimately turned out, there was so much promise yet so little tangible gain in the 1-1 draw.
The game itself needs little coverage to be honest. There were plenty of plus points; I was impressed with our midfield – Beere, Potter, Reeves, and Rigg – who all worked hard and did not appear to make too many mistakes.
Our defense was only cracked by a fine finish, and we had many opportunities to score.
The problem is, given the final result, the promise shown is actually quite disconcerting. I do not think we have had a bad team this year but they have never really formed a solid run that threatened a playoff- place.
This is worrying because it raises many difficult questions about what has gone wrong this season. Some would say management, some the coaching, some the injuries and premature departure of key players, and some would accuse certain players of having a disproportionately negative impact.
I believe it is a great deal more complicated than one problem that would require a quick fix. A new manager and/or another squad clear-out are, in my view, unacceptable options.
The improvement has been marginal, but it is improvement nonetheless. Clubs spend entire generations scrabbling about in the same league, and I do not think impatience and dramatic action will yield what we want (whatever that is).
Yes, a new manager could get us promoted but then again it could just as likely get us relegated. Premature manager sackings are for desperate times, and our situation is not desperate.
Ardley is learning, I think that much is clear, and I really do think we’ll see much more improvement next season with him as our manager and many of the squad members we currently have.
Besides, such talk is academic, as Ardley is quite clearly going nowhere for now.
As for the players; in terms of the Cheltenham game I reckon we drew because we could not score as many as we should have done.
We did not deserve to win because we did not score again, but we should have.
I feel sorry for Tanner; he works hard, is clearly quite talented, but he never got that goal that could have given him the confidence to get more.
Akinfenwa is a good player but I do not think will be a 20 goal striker again, and once again we face a nervous pre-season of waiting for Ardley to sign promising strikers.
He got it so nearly right last time, so hopefully he’ll do one better. I think for midfield we’re OK besides perhaps another Bulman-esque character to replace the experience of Moore.
Our central defense is going to be gutted, with only two or three young players (Sweeney, Nightingale, and maybe Goodman) remaining once Oshi and Philips presumably bugger off.
So, we need some new strikers and some new central defenders? Déjà vu, anyone?
One last thought. Do our poor away form and dismal performances against bottom teams suggest the wrong attitude in the team? Perhaps Ardley needs to take a long hard look at who his captain is. Fuller is a good player, sure, but I have never been convinced by him as captain.
There’s something less than satisfactory about this game, especially given how few games we have won recently. We last had three points against Pompey and, er, that was about it.
Since then, it’s been pretty much meh. Occasionally, it’s been even less than meh. Whether this will mean the cull coming up will be more drastic than first thought is only known by NA.
But you sense, for the nth time in nth amount of pre-seasons, it’s going to be a lot out – and a lot coming in.
Is it going to be the usual case of wash, rinse, repeat? Especially with a loan striker who’s pretty good until we find out that he’s actually only available until January?
I haven’t read NA’s notes yet, but apparently there was a hint/admission that he might not have got his recruitment spot on – perhaps referring to Tanner (who reportedly looked completely drained of confidence yesterday).
It’s pretty clear that our manager lets himself down with blindspots over certain players who don’t contribute much – Tanner this season, Sheringham last season, and he can’t claim like last year that many of the players he inherited.
So this might actually end up being the most important close season since NA’s first one. Last year, he obviously had Akinfenwa and Tubbs in his crosshairs, and snared both of them for a while.
He has a lot to get right by the time we kick the first ball in L2 in August, and he can’t say he won’t have been given the opportunity…
Still, that’s the chapter closed on 2014/15, at least until your editor gets around to writing something this week. It’s the playoffs now, which are always exciting unless you’re actually in the thick of them.
First things first – yeah, Franchise are in the Championship. Deal with it. TBH, they’ve been threatening to do so for a good couple of seasons now, and there’s a degree of inevitability about them playing Derby next season.
It’s going to stick in the throat, especially when the wider footballing world is congratulating them, but that will quickly be forgotten in a day or two.
Remember they beat Yernited in the League Cup this season? No, and few other people remember either.
They can however teach us a lesson that some still are yet to heed – it’s only what we do on the pitch that matters. The same people saying “well done” to Franchise right now will be doing exactly the same to us if we get promoted from L2.
It’s how football outside the insular AFCW bubble works. Franchise are just AN Other team to the wider footballing world, just like we are.
People paid attention to us when we played Liverpool, and matched them for most of the game. We even got some new supporters through the KM turnstiles because of it.
As my old man would have said, success breeds success.
So yeah, they’re going to be like a dog with two dicks right now. But they can teach us a lot even if we don’t want to learn it from them. And besides, the Championship isn’t an easy league…
More importantly to ourselves, we know four more sides who we’ll be facing next season. We all knew about Yeovil, but we can now welcome Notts County, Crawley, and Leyton Orient.
The last one is of course the good one. Trips on the Central Line, a proper kebab from some of the local fast food outlets, and there’s a nice Polksi sklep on the corner off Leyton High Road your editor knows.
Actually, it’s a bit weird for SW19 – I might have mentioned this before, but the first game of this season just ended I covered was indeed at Brisbane Road where they had such high hopes for the season just ended.
Notts County is an interesting one, if only for the weather patterns that we experienced a few years ago. You know, the one with the fog where Dean Blackwell scored the 50 yard screamer (honest).
And then the one with the rain which didn’t even take place.
(Quick opportunity for bragging rights – who was at the one that eventually got played?)
Then, there’s Crawley, and probably the one everyone wants to win next campaign. Is it too much to hope that they’ll fall down to the Conference a la Tranmere? Their purple patch as a club is over, and maybe the unwinding of their whole structure is only just starting.
Oh, and we’ve got Yeovil as well. Don’t know much about them, but if you’re driving there’s a Morrisons at the Wincanton turnoff en route if you want a brekkie. Word of warning though – they’re a bit slow…
Which leaves the L2 playoff contenders. We can add Bury to the list of those who have definitely gone up, so who do we want from Wycombe, Stevenage, Southend or Plymouth?
Either going up or staying down.
Wycombe seem as popular as Franchise these days, but equally Westley is a cunt. Suppose for distance, we would want the Pilgrims to head back up the divisions, but there’s going to be somebody our fanbase doesn’t like who will go up.
All said and done, from our point of view that is indeed that. Plenty to happen in the close season, on and off the field, but at least we were safe around January.
As is traditional for SW19 after the last ball has been kicked, I always have to link to this song. Less poignant than in previous end-of-season clashes, but still relevant:
And no, I still don’t know who the lyric at 0.59 refers to. Though I have some good ideas…. 😉