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Normal service is resumed

As your editor is off until just before the FAC game against Lincoln, a few thoughts before I go…

Firstly, Jampot was at the game, and his views will strike a chord with the majority right now:

Well we all saw that coming, didn’t we?

Organised tosser that I am, I have saved the reports I have done for SW19 this season and as I opened this document to start it I saw saved: ‘ v Shrewsbury home.’ Déjà ‘fucking’ vu!

In many respects the game was very similar; competitive between two sides with little between them, both struggling to get their season’s going. Leopard’s cubs 0 Tiger Cubs 1 in the end saw Carey, their talisman, produce a good run at GF that resulted in a pass come-shot that found a team mate 5 yards out with a suspicion of offside.

But it was given and they have a bit of Playoff revenge!

Thereafter for all the effort – and that could not be faulted – no matter how we shot, headed, flicked, blocked or threw our bodies in the way the ball would just not go it; I lost count of the deflections etc that turned a good chance into a half chance.

But in some ways that was what we expected; it’s the AFCW way.

We lacked the guile to unlock a resilient Argyle defence who came for one point and left with three.

Plus points: Kept going. Will Nightingale maturing into his role. The roving Forrester. Fans proven right.

Minus points: We lost. Unrequired change of personnel and formation. Neal Ardley’s fucking intransigence.

The referee’s a…: better one that we normally get and overall had a good game. Got the Fuller booking totally wrong, playing to the crowd. Their player wasn’t even injured. Actually could have booked a couple for simulation (Carey on 2 occasions) but then would have had to do LTB towards the end.

Them: As you would expect from a side at the bottom, with recent draws at Shrewsbury and Blackburn they came here as no mugs; well organised with what sort of looked like zonal defending inasmuch not a player at the back moved out of position or if possible his area of the pitch.

If they, like us, can move away from the bottom, remove the pressure, they might do reasonably well. Liked their No 4 N’Sogo who harassed our midfield all day.

Point to ponder: We’ve seen the importance of the shrink this year on a number of occasions. But what happens to each individual player when he’s not around? I guess the players formulate or internalise what is happening around them to themselves.

So, I wonder when replacing Kaja with Abdou the players internalised that – perhaps unconsciously – as a more defensive formation, irrespective of what NA said?

It was commented to me within the first 10 minutes that there was not the intensity or tempo from Tuesday night. It may have been fatigue, or I think it’s more this psychological slap down brought about by NA.

The fans can’t have been the only ones to think – unchanged team. Kaja was not injured as he played pretty well when he came on (as it almost forced Forrester into the middle and we probably created more chances in the last 20 than the rest of the match!).

And to insult us more he replaced Abdou! QED.

But why bring him on at the end of the game when we needed him at the beginning, particularly as we knew weather conditions would influence this game and needed the energetic start. we never made that first half advantage tell, did we?

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The ref overtly checking and counting our players on the pitch at the beginning of the second half; maybe he’d heard we were trying to slip an extra on. 2) So what happened to Storm Brian then? Maybe he got a better offer from Hurricane Ophelia now she calmed down. It was windy but nothing spectacular but I hate wind at games as I feel it always spoils them. 3) The collective sigh outside the ground of fans realising NA had changed the team before the game.

Anything else? Yep – so why change the formation and the positions people play? if it ain’t broke don’t fix it Ardley. Forrester spent most of the match on the right of a loose front 3 (was it a 4-3-3 because I rarely saw Forrester supporting Lyle during the first 70 mins), totally wasted.

Abdou – perhaps for his height – is drafted into midfield with Trotter allowed to roam forward. Not what I expected and pretty sure not what I would have done.

Of course, some suggested George Francomb to be restored to the right wing back role and bring in the better equipped and better going forward Kennedy or Deji at left back. After their goal, and the performance of Carey against a makeshift full back, was this one game too many for GF at LB?

I came yesterday with little expectation of a win to make it 3 in a row; I know this club too well.

I applaud the players efforts but it was not to be: a bit Shrewsbury with a bit of Rochdale too. I knew 2 wins were not going to be the start of our Indian summer, as that rarely happens.

But I also say that I am not surprised that NA did fiddle with the team, the formation, and not set the team up for the first half with some gusto.

Players have to deliver the performance but they really do look to be shackled by a man who just cannot leave things alone. Perhaps his post match review may contain contrition but in the end that does not matter.

He has done it again and he will continue to do it again.

I think at present all we can hope for is that sometimes he will get it right; and other times circumstances will force him to change to encompass the more logical way we should play with the players we have available.

So, was it worth it? Disappointing but we got 6pts out of the 9pts we hoped for

In a nutshell: We’re still trying to change the leopard’s spots.

I think yesterday was summed up when a well-known SW19 contributor texted your editor, and said these simple words:

Just can’t help himself…

We all know who the “himself” refers to, and the reaction to everything since the full time whistle has been very telling.

See, even before Northampton, there were still plenty who were willing to give NA just that extra bit of time, that it would turn around and all that. And for a brief couple of days, that’s exactly what happened.

And then there was yesterday.

This was the most predictable result and performance of the day, wasn’t it? And I think this is what has pissed people off in a manner that we didn’t even see a mere week or two ago.

Many will want NA gone anyway, for reasons we’ve gone through in the past few weeks, but I think you can add quite a few more to that list now. And there’s now a lot of waverers (at best) from the previously loyal too.

To change a winning team is one thing, if there’s injuries or if the opposition would cause problems. To do it against a side that is bottom, and with a record even worse than ours – you can look it up yourself – is just unforgivable.

And that is what I think has sent the mood and patience right down this morning.

Those who have defended our current manager against places like this, like WUP and other social media outlets may be forgiven for feeling their loyalty has been rewarded with a slap in the face this morning.

Which in many ways, they have. They do the stick-behind-the-manager stuff like any “true fan” is supposed to, and what do they get in return? Well, they get to be made look foolish in front of the more jaundiced of us.

See, people can excuse us being shit, at least up to a point. But they don’t like their support taken for granted, especially as the club itself does that too often.

And it’s especially unforgivable when we play Rotherham and play like we should be playing. That was a nice four days after that contest, wasn’t it? Shame it was such a short time to enjoy the football again.

Should I mention more that others have pointed out so many times themselves? Probably not, but I’ll put this one out for discussion – I wonder what the players are thinking this morning.

Professional footballers can be egotists at the best of times, but they’re not going to appreciate being made to look bad then get blamed for it in public by their manager. Especially one who can’t back it up himself where it matters.

So it might not matter if NA has raised their voice to them, if they’re stopping listening. They’re not the best in the world, but it’s not their fault they’ve been crippled by consistently awful tactics.

Which is why I think they’re starting to make a point whenever the sports shrink turns up to stop the self-harming. What message are they conveying when they suddenly (cough) start busting a gut when he’s there?

They want to be left alone to get on with it, to play in their proper positions, to play without getting berated because they dared to have an individual thought during play. To think about attacking the goal rather than defending “the shape” that has been imposed upon them.

In other words, they’ve been stating that the way they have to play just doesn’t work. And they’re trying to find somebody – anyone – who will listen.

I expect there’s going to be a lot of soul searching, the usual “heart to heart” which seems less like getting it in the open and more like a Harvey Weinstein job interview now.

Yes, we got the six points out of nine, but that’s probably as good as it gets for a little while, especially now we’ve taken two steps backwards again. And the worst thing of all, it’s for no reason whatsoever.

See you before we play Lincoln. If we haven’t all killed each other by then…