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Don’t Bring Me Down


No, I wasn’t going to do a “Mr Blue Sky” reference. Hell, you were lucky you were spared a “Sent to…” quip as well.

Sleeping on Highfield Road 2 Plough Lane 2 was the best thing all round, as I wouldn’t have wanted to wake up to what I’d written otherwise.

But even so, this result has managed to piss me (and judging by post-game reaction, everyone else) off more than just about every game this season.

Yes, you could argue that maybe their equaliser was offside, but that’s irrelevant. What matters is that we threw last night away – and we threw it away big time.

We dropped two valuable points because our game management was very poor.

When we went 2-1 up, we were bossing it. And that’s no hyperbole either, we were well on top and full of confidence. But when the clock reached 88 minutes or so, something very weird happened.

We had our foot on their throat and were ready to give them one final kicking. Instead, we took it off them, stood legs apart and offered them to give us a kick in the bollocks.

Needless to say, the invitation was gratefully received.

Why? Because we lack a killer instinct, that’s why. Yes, we knew there was going to be a LOT of injury time, but you start trying to take a knee when there’s two minutes of injury left, not two minutes of the 90.

You could see them equalising a mile off, because they suddenly had the bit between their teeth. With a lot of help from us, needless to say…

Actually, we were a little bit lucky not to have lost that full stop. And in a macabre way, it might have been better if we had, because then it would have properly done us for our negativity.

Last night proved we have a League Two mentality. You could have more or less got away with it in the last four seasons, but you can’t any more.

And we never learn from that. We did the same at Rochdale, by all accounts, though people were more interested in slagging off Ryan Clarke then, rather than our timewasting.

Which, coincidentally, is what did for us last night. Shea was dawdling when we were 2-2, and he was getting serious shit from our fans because of it.

But then, that lack of ambition goes throughout the whole setup, doesn’t it? NA in particular seems to think that shutting up shop and trying to win by one goal is sufficient.

Well, we’re not good enough to do that. In fact, I’ll go a step further – we vastly over-estimate how clever we are in doing so.

If you want to kill time with so much injury time remaining, pass the ball amongst yourselves, don’t let the opposition get any foothold.

On second thoughts, scrub that – some of our passing last night was dire. Perhaps we should have tried to trap it for their goal? It would have gone further than Robbo’s clearance, anyway.

We are much better when we attack teams, because their defences aren’t significantly better than ours. Which suggests that our issues remain firmly rooted between the ears.

That’s down to character, as Brendan Rodgers would say, and we seem lacking that in the wrong areas.

The game itself? I suppose conceding after less than two minute constitutes a bad start. I watched the goals after writing all the above, and the first goal was a bit of a sucker punch.

To be fair to us, we did eventually start getting it together, and we did deserve to equalise. Mind you, we nearly let it slip again soon afterwards…

There then followed a poor game by two poor teams in poor L1 positions. But we went ahead late on, and full marks to Taylor for showing the proverbial goalscorer’s instinct.

And we should have killed the game off there and then. Which makes watching their equaliser even more aggravating to watch – when your two central defenders cannot do even a basic bit of clearing, you deserve to drop points.

It’s all very well for Robbo to punch the floor (which he did again on the full time whistle), but he should be punching himself instead.

And his CB partner, while he’s at it.

For Saturday, even if it’s just for that one game, I’d like to see either one of Charles or Robinson dropped. Do it under the guise of “squad rotation” if need be, but just put Robertson in instead.

If nothing else, it will remind our CB pairing of how their mistakes have cost us points. Clarke’s gone, so they’ve lost one of their main scapegoats, and now the pressure should be put on them.

Should it not work against Gillingham, we’ll have problems, but at least it will show the players they’re not undroppable.

It’s not just at the back, though. Barnett was awful last night, him and Taylor just don’t seem to work. Come to think of it, only Poleon has been the decent signing of an otherwise underwhelming transfer window.

And he didn’t get to do much when he came on, thanks to the straitjacket called our tactics.

I suppose you could say we got a point and we’re out of the drop zone again. But it could be so much better – and should…

Plus points: We didn’t lose. Coming back. Both goals.

Minus points: We didn’t win. Two points dropped. Negative tactics at 2-1 up. Barnett. Defending. Inescapable feeling of shooting ourselves in foot again.

The referee’s a…: Ignore whether he should have given their goal as offside, Coventry would have probably equalised at some point. He correctly punished us for our timewasting, and even gave us a fair few free kicks during the game. Which is more than some manage.

Them: As I was writing this, Tony Mowbray has left them. Obviously paid for his job by failing to beat us.

Which isn’t really a surprise. They were, and are, a poor team who we managed to make look good. They’re bottom for a reason, although that didn’t seem to register with us.

As for Coventry themselves, that is one seriously fucked up club. True, the Ricoh is either an impressive stadium or a soul-less bowl, depending on who you ask, although the toilets were a bit Ryman League-esque.

Their ownership issues are well documented, and they won’t be solved until somebody puts in some hard cash to get SISU out of the club.

You sense it will get even worse for them before it gets better.  There were about 8000 there (with 484 of us), but if you remember evening games at Selhurst, in front of about 4000, you get the idea of the atmosphere.

I would guess if the Ricoh is full, with something riding on it, then it could be a bit of an intimidating arena. But those days look behind them, at least for now.

Put it this way – I’d rather be us than them at this moment.

This was a bit of a step back in time, really. Going through Coventry itself felt like the top-flight days when fixtures against WFC were the pinnacle of the footballing calendar.

Stop laughing.

Come to think of it, there was something reassuringly familiar about how shit the game was (Keith Curle’s last minute OG, anyone?). Although as somebody put it, they went to all games at Highfield Road and couldn’t remember any of them…

Point to ponder: Does NA need the psychologist back? Our promotion in the first place was partly down to him, and we seem to be heading back to the bad old days of our manager’s time with us.

Ardley is getting a few jibes this morning about how his, ahem, over-cautious approach is costing us, and there is some truth in that.

We do have a collective mental issue right now – squad wise, I think we’re good enough to stay up, but our lack of that something will keep us far too close to the drop zone.

Last night just reaffirmed many views that we only seem to start playing when we go behind. If I was to be more damning, I’d say we only start to focus when that happens.

We failed to concentrate in the first two minutes at the Ricoh. We did likewise after the break against Shrewsbury. The less said about the last minute at Rochdale the better.

Yes, we show enough character to keep coming back, but that’s because we keep giving the opposition head starts. They obviously twig we can’t fully concentrate for ninety minutes, and that’s been exploited far too often.

We got away with that at Charlton and against Chesterfield. We almost did the same against Scunny, but you just know that if we’ll get anything out of Gills – they’ll take the lead first.

It feels a bit like reading something from SW19 a couple of years ago, and most worryingly of all – I can’t see how it’s going to change without external help.

For our defence, maybe a change in personnel will help break that circle of failure? If Robertson is doing so well in training, then there’s no mileage in keeping him out of the starting XI.

The good thing is that right now, so many teams are equally as middling as us. We’re out of the drop zone, one thumping win away from being above 12th, and this with a yellow streak inside us.

The bad thing is, we won’t get away with it forever…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The corner kicks were sponsored. Seriously. By G&R Scaffolding, no less. At least we now know where to go if we find ourselves in the Midlands and need some. 2) The steward safety messages over the PA beforehand. Announcement of nuclear war would have sounded less apocalyptic.

Anything else? Yes. Don’t let last night’s result overshadow the week’s big result for us.

I have to admit, when I heard “We’re going home” sung, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Perhaps literally. For the first time, it felt like it was actually going to happen rather than just the usual wishful thinking.

And I also have to confess, I looked at things like the executive boxes at the Ricoh and thought “that will look all right at NPL”.

Obviously, there’s still the s106s to sign, and the judicial review period to wait upon. It was telling that the WPRA have been sending emails saying that all “realistic” avenues have been exhausted.

I’m sure you can find out how much the Hooray Henries at LBW are hurting yourself. Ditto the doggers and stockies, although it seems that Diane McLean is trying to push the residents into paying a potential five (or even six) figure sum.

Well, it’s not like her and Taggart are going to pay for any of it themselves.

But it’s articles like the SLP interview with Erik that makes it all feel more tangible right now. And I highlight this one because it starts giving timetables.

OK, July 2018 was always going to be a tough ask, and with all the best will in the world – that’ll be very unlikely to happen. I’d say nearer November of that year, with a fair wind.

Toby Porter has done some stock car and greyhound reporting for the SLP, and I would guess he’s pretty versed over when he says that the doggers/stockies can be evicted come December.

[SW19 note, 30/9/16 : if you’ve seen the updated previous article about the SoS, this is the correct information after all. Which makes it sound even better than first thought…]

It sounds like the main delay will be getting the s106s properly signed up. Which, by the way, are only dealt with by LBM, AFCW and Galliard – nobody else is involved with them, so LBW can do one after all.

Once they’re signed, that’s when things will start finally happening. And I would guess we’ll end up moving quickly, regardless of whether we need to wait for a judicial review.

An SW19 reader pointed out to me last night that the Sky greyhounds are now listing the doggie St Leger (held at WGS each November) as “TBC” rather than “Wimbledon”.

Maybe they’ve got wind of what the timescales are going to be? From the point of view of Galliard, once the s106s are done there’s no real reason to keep the current tenants there.

At the moment, it still makes sense because they’re earning money while they can’t do anything yet, but it’s well known that like the rest of us, they just want to get on with it.

I’m sure we’ll get a full update from our CEO at some point, as there does seem a bit of confusion (OK, guesswork) as to what can happen and when.

But it’s almost surreal to think that it will actually start happening in months, not years. Although more accurately, it’s something to think that it’s happening at all…

So, was it worth it? Piss off.

In a nutshell: It only took nine minutes.