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SW19 is back

Didn’t think the burghers of Vienna, Bratislava and Prague will miss my attempts at mangling their language, somehow…

Anyway, before I departed just under a fortnight ago, there was the expectation that we finally be seeing the tsumani of transfers coming in.

Or, if you prefer, a storm of signings. Or a raincloud of replacements. Or a fresh wind of fresh blood. Or, er, a cyclone of cheesy grins in those obligatory photos you get when we get a new player in.

Anyway, enough of that. Your editor is just about to check the amount of new signings we’ve made in the past two weeks. Be right back…

*crickets chirp*

Hmm, there must be some mistake. I can’t find any. Obviously must be the Newsnow website playing up. I’ll try somewhere else…

*crickets chirp*

You mean to tell me that we didn’t even get one new player in? Not even some 17-year old reserve from Carshalton who is “highly regarded” before he gets fucked off to Staines Town a year later?

To be fair, it doesn’t matter too much until pre-season training starts anyway. If you really want to push it, you don’t really need (technically speaking) signings until the first proper game kicks off in anger.

You don’t want to go down that route, obviously, and this morning NA pretty much said negotiations were at a critical stage. Which is pretty much what Hammam used to say about LBM for all of the 1990s, while trying to get Dublin Dons through the back door.

Earlier this week, he (NA, not the Lebanese camel fucker) said that the club had given him a good budget, though it’s unlikely that will stop the usual suspects droning on about how poverty-stricken we are.

It’s obvious he knows who he wants, and is willing to let no news continue to be good news. That has been one of his two major strengths as AFCW manager – he can at least get decent players in.

Whether he knows how to get them playing effectively is of course another matter…

That’s enough snark. Given that it’s been five weeks or so since the season ended, it does seem a long time not to have any new players around. Mind you, in the wider footballing world, there have been few transfer dealings full stop (at least, high profile ones).

So I guess we’ll have to be patient, take NA at his word, and await a glut of players who couldn’t get any better offers turned down interest from L1 sides to come to us.

Speaking of our manager, your editor had a thought whilst away. I can’t help but think Ardley is now under a lot of pressure this upcoming season, and I suspect he knows that as well.

Last season’s clear underachievement seems to have hit a nerve within the club – not just supporters – and the way various parties have talked about going for promotion suggests the bar has been raised.

This will be NA’s third proper pre-season, and we’ve spent a lot of money to go up by one place. True, he had to make the playing side look anything remotely like a professional outfit, and he does deserve immense credit for that.

But that is no longer an excuse. The club itself has started to look more like one that belongs in the Football League, and because of that expectations have risen.

And Ardley does need to perform. I’ve no idea if his contract is up at the end of 2015/16, but if we finish 15th again it becomes hard if not impossible to justify renewing it – we won’t go much further with him.

We’ve finally twigged that League Two is much of a muchness, and if you accept the more robust side of it and learn to deal with it, you can go a long way.

If our management team doesn’t finally learn that, with a “good budget” and presumably a better squad* this time round, they never will. And if we do find ourselves struggling, his tenure may not be particularly bombproof.

* – note the use of the word “squad” as opposed to “players”.

The annoying thing about NA’s reign thus far is that in his first season, when he had to clean up the absolute horseshit from the freefalling TB era, once we got into January our form was genuinely one spot away from the playoff positions.

Plus, that was the last time one sensed the squad were “together”. Have we ever heard stories since that horrible campaign ended about players staying behind in training to play darts?

If – if – NA can finally rediscover that for next season, then he will succeed. If he doesn’t…

Fortunately, we will have at least two players at the first pre-season training session. The big one was Akinfenwa (no pun intended), although Kennedy signing up yesterday may be just as important.

In the former’s case, it did seem like he was touting himself around MLS clubs before realising he wouldn’t have been much more high profile than he is right now.

From our point of view, if we can get a decent enough striker alongside him, it will be worthwhile. I got the impression that he, like most of us, was getting a bit pissed off with Tanner (and NA’s insistence that he was a striker, honest), so whether our manager has hinted at his strike partner remains to be seen.

As for Kennedy, what a difference a year makes. Have to say, if he was looking elsewhere this summer it would have been a massive slap in the chops for us, considering how fortuitous it was with him coming back.

Even now, I still can’t remember too many players getting released from a club only to come back with them literally a month or two later. And I bet well over half of those didn’t get a new deal.

I know that 99.9% of pro footballers are mercenaries, and you can’t really blame them for being so. After all, clubs are more than happy to release them at will. But in his case, it’s good he’s shown us at least a tad of loyalty.

Finally, Lawrie Sanchez proves that having a degree doesn’t make you intelligent. Seriously, where to start with this?

I think he’s always tried to burn the candles at both ends with us and Franchise, and he usually gets it wrong. True, if you’re not (emotionally) attached to AFCW, then you’re more likely to give Franchise kudos for Preston fucking it up on the last day of the season.

That’s something we have to accept, and anyway – if they get a bad start the Championship is a gloriously cruel division…

And he is actually half-right about the feud not being quite as “important” as it was. By that, I mean that most of us don’t think about them every waking hour these days – it’s not like 2002 to about 2007 when everything Franchise did was as important as everything we did.

Playing them three times has made it a bit more “normal”, or at least as normal as something so unique as this could ever be. But does he genuinely think that a younger fanbase is going to support both us and them?

If nothing else, 99% of proper fans anywhere don’t support another team. While some may like other sides, or have a soft spot for them, you have your first love and that’s it.

Otherwise, you’re just a clueless prick who would buy one of these.

But if AFCW-supporting youngsters are going to have a different view on Franchise, then it won’t be in the way that Sanchez thinks.

Let’s get one thing straight – those of us who experienced 28/5/02 will never forget it until the day we’re buried/cremated. But anyone born after that date won’t have any of the emotional attachment (that phrase again) associated with it.

They will not see us and Franchise in the same way as us old lags will, because they will have no comprehension about why AFCW came into being.

And why should they? I appreciate the FAC run in 1975, but because I was born in October that year it won’t mean the same to me as those who were at Turf Moor and Elland Road. Likewise 14/5/88 to those who are close to voting age.

That doesn’t mean it won’t be a rivalry* for them. It will just become more the way Bristol Rovers hate Bristol City, or Brum hate Villa. Although given how many treated actual games against them, it may not even be that.

* – I am aware that the use of the word “rivalry” is too mild for many if not most, and a few actively despise the very notion we’re competing with them. But as they say in Ireland, I wouldn’t start from here, and we’re now getting increasing support from those whose parents were shagging during the days of Dave Anderson’s reign.

If Sanchez actually understood football supporting, he wouldn’t have said that. But he doesn’t, and as such we can just file him under “idiotic ex-hero” – although I’m not sure he was ever widely beloved even when playing.

But then, plenty of Fulham fans would suggest he knows even less about football management…