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Imp Bizkit

Yes, an update. And not just for the chance to use that headline before I forget it…

I see that absolutely nothing much has changed since I last properly updated. I’m sure you can draw your own conclusions on that.

As expected, Charlton became just another sorry statistic in this increasingly wretched campaign. I don’t need to do any sort of writeup or analysis, as the Sun did a pretty devastating job on that particular front.

I know the views of places like this and WUP get treated with a bit of disdain, but when a national newspaper starts making exactly the same points, and in quite mocking terms as well, that’s when the club’s dirty little secret isn’t so secret any longer.

It’s clearly well researched, by people who obviously know what they’re looking at, although I don’t know whether they’re AFCW affiliated or not. If they aren’t, then word about how shit we are is seeping out…

True, one newspaper article won’t make all the difference. That said, and this will send the Guardianista types into frothing dismay, I would guess a significant percentage of the rank-and-file read the Currant Bun and may have had their views reinforced.

Or changed.

Which makes quite a backdrop to tomorrow against Lincoln. It might have been one of the worst draws we could have had in the current situation, because it’s practically no-win.

If we get victory tomorrow and a good one at that, it’s be job done but won’t change much. We’re a L1 side (yes, really), and we’d have beaten somebody in the division below us. Our name is in the hat, and that’s more or less the bare minimum.

But even a scraped 1-0 win off the arse of Darius won’t really change the current mood. I think Plymouth might have done it for a lot of people, as that was a tactical kick in the bollocks once too often.

A draw? Again, name in the hat but little else. I can predict the post-game comments if it’s 0-0 already – “set up not to lose”, “dire”, “we’re doing this against a L2 side?”. And let’s face it, they wouldn’t be wrong.

And as for a loss…

What’s clear is how much the expectation levels have slumped. We shouldn’t even be thinking about draws or losses against a side in a lower division, but that’s what the majority seem to be predicting right now.

Lincoln aren’t mugs, and they’ll be sniffing blood tomorrow. Plus, they’ll probably have a large percentage of the crowd, which again highlights our current predicament.

By the sounds of it, many are voting with their feet for this game. Prices aren’t helping – £14 for OAPs to sit down is a bit steep to watch something that is likely to be pretty awful, not to mention what it is for working adults.

But even those who can afford it more, there’s a distinct lack of enthusiasm. We all know why, but while waiting at Newark airport on Wednesday, something struck your editor about AFCW at this moment.

Right now, this club feels, well, odd.

The vibe is quietly mutinous, there’s a lot of deep dis-satisfaction and yes, disillusionment. That’s to be expected when you’re as bad as we are. But on a more fundamental level, something at this club doesn’t feel right at the moment.

And it’s hard to put a finger on why, or indeed what it is. The remedy for it though could be quite straightforward – the club itself needs a change in direction, to clean out the stables.

Not just on the field, where the need to halt our downward spiral is beyond urgent, but off it as well. I won’t go into details, but there’s been a couple of incidents this season alone where the club and individuals within it have acted strangely (and not in a good way either).

When regimes run their natural course, things get picked up on more. Unforced errors get made much more frequently. The cracks, or faultlines start appearing. People don’t hold their tongue in as much, and that contributes to the all round negative vibe.

AFCW itself certainly fits that description right now, and everything is catching up with us this season. We got it in 2012/13 and we’re getting it again this time around too.

The club knew back then it had to be much more professional than it was, although it’s up to you whether you think they’ve entirely learned their lesson from that. For an “ambitious” club, we can be very slow to change.

The constant Waiting-For-Godot over the s106s for NPL don’t help the mood at all, needless to say. What should be the catalyst for AFCW making the next step seems as far away as ever, especially as there’s no tangible news beyond the usual glib platitudes.

Except we’re not even getting them right now. The radio silence over it is starting to get disconcerting, and it’s hard not to think that there are problems we’re not being told about.

Which would be typical of the way things have gone this season. I expect it will get sorted eventually, the club simply can’t afford not to, but it’s directly affecting operations right now**

** – this is a large reason why I think NA is still in his job – the club simply doesn’t want to pay out the severance, and would rather wait until the end of the season. L1 to L2 isn’t nearly as bad as L2 to the Conference, after all. Though that’s still five more months of justifying the same negative shit…

The club has based the next couple of years on simply ticking over, but the real world of football punishes such reactionary complacency. Just like it did in 12/13 too, where AFCW badly miscalculated what it needed and just about escaped by the skin of its teeth.

Tomorrow might be a watershed moment if we lose, not for anything to actually happen but for what the collective expectations are for the rest of 17/18. If there’s no obvious sign of improvement, then more people will simply pick and choose games – at KM as well.

Familiarity breeds contempt, as somebody said while I was out of the country, and there’s an increasing amount of the latter right now.

Of course, we might win 4-0 tomorrow. And that might be the biggest cup upset of the lot…