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Posh Spice

Two games before you can plan what to do over your weekends…

Another 0-0, another point, and another feeling that ending this season now might not be the worst thing. We’re safe, even if we’ll finish below Franchise, and it’s not as though we can consider the campaign a failure.

STTA was at KM yesterday. It’s his last SW19 of the season as well…

That was mind numbingly dull wasn’t it. When Ivor is struggling for something enthusiastic to say afterwards you know it’s been a drab day.

Like a few others I’d backed the draw so was quite happy sitting there in the sunshine waiting for the inevitable improvement in my bank balance. From early on it was clear neither side could be bothered to score a goal and only that late header from Robbo gave us gamblers cause to twitch.

Macca did what he needed to do adequately, Toby Sibbick got through his debut without any major clangers and Tyrone Barnett got 80 minutes in the shop window (stop laughing at the back please).

Seemed a few of the others didn’t want to be there any more than the crowd did, I suppose football without consequence just isn’t worth doing. Anyway, the good news is we are now within 180 minutes of the final curtain.

Plus points: football only lasts 90 minutes, the sun was out.

Minus points: we’ll get battered at Bradford and we’re going to finish below the Buckinghamshire window-lickers.

The referee a: flat footed podgy twat, one of those annoying ones who’s absolutely sure of himself when he gives yet another goal kick that was clearly a corner.

Anything else? I heard the Tom Elliot to Bolton rumour but I understand there are no firm offers for any of our players at the moment. Tom’s not a Championship player so I can’t see him heading to the Macron if they go up, but should they slip in to the play-offs then fail……

They’re a decent size club so understandable that a transfer would be attractive to Tom, particularly when it’s back home.

That would put a little more pressure on Season II given that he’ll depart for free and we look seriously toothless up front without him. For now I think we should all wish Bolton well in their promotion bid.

So with or without big Tom how are we likely to fair in the 2017/2018 campaign?

I read that it’s going to be much tougher next season but I don’t really see why. The clubs coming up are Doncaster, Portsmouth, Plymouth and maybe Luton. They will need time to find their feet and we didn’t fair too badly against them in the league below.

If the 3 clubs coming down remain as Blackburn, Wigan and Rotherham I don’t see much to fear there either. In fact I’d rather play them than Sheff Utd or Bolton.

Then there will be plenty of teams that have struggled this season, Shrewsbury, Oldham, Gillingham, Bury and Northampton. I expect a fair amount of rebuilding to go on at these clubs in the summer, which may give us a small advantage as we don’t require these wholesale changes.

In fact I think we’ll benefit from maintaining most of our squad and strengthening in one or two key areas. There’s no hiding from the fact we made 2 or 3 duff signings last summer, let’s hope we’ve learnt from that and that we’ve properly scouted our targets for 2017.

The most important lesson is that if we can’t scout them because they’re not playing let’s look elsewhere.

The money we have won’t go far. Not because we’re that poor, it’s more that even decent money doesn’t go very far at this level. Example we had a budget of £2k a week for a striker and we ended up with Ty.

I agree with REPD that we should look to utilise the loan market, definitely if we get stuck with one of our duffs but even if we don’t there’s no harm in bringing in a Champ or Prem youngster on a season long deal.

We’ll need replacements for Robertson and Bully. I’d love to see Deji come back if Cardiff plan to loan him out again next season. The reality is he’ll probably stay with a weaker Gills side becaue they pay more than we do.

Another name that’s cropped up from the past (and a good example what we’re up against) is Brennan Dickerson, the young winger we had on loan from Brighton. We offered him a deal and he’s currently earning more plying his trade at Colchester in League 2.

Whatever money we do have I’d like to see us strengthen in two key areas. We desperately need some pace in the team, ideally out wide. Such players with end product will be in high demand at this level so we may have to go for an Azeez type or this maybe where the loan market is our best option.

Secondly I’d like to see our option of a double switch up front on 60 – 70 minutes return. That was a fundamental part of our success in the promotion season as we asked questions of tiring defences. We’ve had to do without it this campaign (for reasons I won’t labour) and have finished games on the back foot.

I wish Neal good luck in the transfer market, to bring in all the quality we need to move forward he’ll first have to offload the mistakes from last Summer. If he’s successful I think we’ll have a similar season to this one.

With fewer games played at Kingsmeadow we will benefit from a better playing surface and have a season’s experience under our belts. We’re likely to sit around 20th in the budget table and I’d expect Neal to outperform that by 4 or 5 places.

I’m not travelling to Bradford and REPD should be doing Oldham so this will be my last update for SW19’s Army this season. On the whole it’s been an enjoyable campaign to report on with some excellent games. If I had to pick one home and one on the road I’d go for the franchise game at KM and the away performance at Posh as my highlights.

Thanks to Rob for publishing my contributions and I hope you enjoy the Summer break.

What is this “summer break” of which I have heard of?

The game yesterday was pretty much forgotten about 10 seconds after the final whistle, if that, and you’re not going to get much more analysis on it here.

What has become clear is that we’ve entered into one of the “joys” of close season, namely the transfer window rumour mill – albeit two weeks early than usual.

I suppose it’s inevitable that Tom Elliott is being linked with a move away from KM, even if it’s only Chinese whispers. He’s out of contract in the summer, there’s no news on him signing another one, and he’s leaving it very late if he is.

He’s our most effective striker as well, and in that particular position they’ll always be in demand. Right now, it will be considered a minor shock if he starts 2017/18 in an AFCW shirt.

Not that I blame him for hedging his bets this summer. He’s 26, probably at his most “marketable” employment wise, maybe realising that injuries will eventually scupper his career, and be honest – if Bolton came calling, like you wouldn’t be tempted in that situation.

Like others have said in the last 24 hours or so, he’s not really a Championship level player. If you consider that Sheffield United were a second tier side in all bar league placing this season, he wouldn’t get in their side.

Come to think of it, how many other of our players could perform in the next division up? Perhaps Lyle Taylor, another one likely to be linked away from KM this summer – Les Ferdinand was at our game again, and he’s clearly looking at somebody for QPR.

Either that or he really likes the tea in our boardroom.

Ian Holloway is a mate of Ardley, that goes without saying, and again – it would be very tempting for our #33 to go to Loftus Road, especially as he probably wouldn’t get many more chances to move up a level like this close season…

That’s all from the point of view of the players, but what about from the perspective of AFCW? Undoubtedly it would be a blow, especially losing TE for nowt. This past month alone has proven just how much we miss his ability to find the net.

But then, losing one or even both might end up doing us a big favour.

How so? Well, I’m going to try and avoid mentioning again that we failed to score between late October and the end of February away from home. Not that it’s a stat that continues to piss me off, you understand. Honest.

That in itself suggests there was something fundamentally wrong with the way we approached scoring goals. Especially as two players who were starters for those games were the two just been mentioned.

If we’re forced to replace strikers, then it’s going to force us to properly look at exactly how we need to improve.

Especially as we can’t afford to waste money on duffers, to fit into a style of play that may not even work full stop next season. Even the goal drought this month, with just one player missing, demonstrates something a bit deeper with us.

I know it’s the end of the season, etc etc. But right now, we don’t even look close to scoring off somebody’s arse in the 94th minute.

Does that mean looking beyond the strikers? As in, having to look for a certain type of midfield addition to complement a certain type of replacement striker? If that’s what needs to be done, so be it.

One might argue that we might be better off cashing in on Taylor (and accept the departure of TE) to move onto that next step of adapting in L1. While I’m with STTA that this division may not be much tougher next season after all, we do need to keep evolving.

Plus of course, replacing any player is standard practice for any football club. Even if a few of our supporters seem to think otherwise 😉 If either/both of Taylor and/or Elliott leave, nobody will begrudge them. They’ve both helped us up and stabilise in L1.

But we’ll move on, and we’ll get new heroes at some point. Maybe even next season…