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A chink of light

It’s been raining outside SW19 Towers this morning, but something in the sky has cleared…

This weekend is turning out odd. The sun was out earlier. The leaves on the trees are looking an ever sharper shade of autumnalness (?). Birds are tweeting** just that bit louder this morning.

** – as in, the sound they make and not the usage of the social media outlet. Although if it was the latter, they’d write “Just unloaded my guts onto the moggy who tried swiping at me last week. Haha #gotcha #catsplat”.

Friends and drinking partners are staring at each other in disbelief. Strangers are asking other strangers on the bus what happened. And grandparents are about to tell their children of the seemingly unimaginable tale.

Yes, AFC Wimbledon has won a game.

What was the record? Eight straight losses, wasn’t it? I lost count and can’t be arsed to check. Would have been nine (or whatever) until the own goal right at the end of the first half, and by all accounts it changed things beyond recognition.

Dare I suggest there is a tinsy-winsy flicker of a team spirit coming back? There was an apparent good one in August, before the tentacles of the One Remaining Constant (Until Recently) started stifling things one final time.

Indeed, I don’t find it incidental that even with an interim change of manager giving the players more freedom to, well, enjoy themselves, we’ve ended a run of form that could have long lasting consequences.

Speaking of Bassey, and especially for those salivating over him this morning and suggesting he should get the job – just a quick reminder that it was him who started with Appiah up front on his own yesterday.

It was still a formation and first XI out of the Neal Ardley coaching manual, and with the same results to boot.

Things only changed when Appiah got injured, and Piggot came on instead alongside Pinnock. Our most effective combo gets the results when being allowed to play together for most of the game.

Funny, that.

OK, it’s not the fault of Mr Championship-Quality that he’s one bad injury away from possibly calling it quits. Nor has he been helped by being effectively left out to dry by being played up front on his own.

At the very least, play him and the Pig together along with Pinnock and/or Barcham, and see what happens.

But him going off went some way to us winning the game, and one wonders what his future will be in January…

Enough of the scapegoating. We won a game, and with a bit of Wimbledon-esque grit too. Possibly knowing they have to impress the new manager watching on? If so, who cares? I’ve forgotten the feeling of victory and I quite like it.

Maybe the squad themselves had a point to prove, especially after the reaction shown to them after Doncaster and before that. Hell hath no fury than the dented ego of a pro footballer, after all.

You don’t need me to remind you that the last time we got a point – let alone a win – was Oxford in September. And you certainly need no reminder that it was a nervy, horrible win that managed to make us feel worse.

By all accounts, yesterday wasn’t that. The feel-good factor this morning is genuine, because it sounded like a legitimately good win. And nobody has suggested that we were panicky towards the end, which is telling in itself.

I’d like to think that yesterday will be a turning point. We’ll see after Tuesday whether it’s just a false dawn, but it’s something for the new boss to think about.

As said on SW19 and other places recently, the first thing our new manager needs to do is get inside the heads of these players and make them think they can win these sort of fixtures.

Whoever the new boss turns out to be, the first thing they have to do is to actually manage. That might explain why there’s apparently a sports psychologist (Sylvester?) involved with the second interviews this week.

Stats and fancy diagrams on a whiteboard are all very well, but that approach has (partly) got us in the mess that we only yesterday started to make the first steps out of.

Bassey talked about getting the players to enjoy playing, and that’s half the battle. Yes, there’s issues with fitness (though that didn’t seem a problem yesterday – again, funny that). Yes, the goalscoring remains a problem.

But if fans get a kick from a more confident outlook, imagine what it does to the players.

And that’s why I don’t buy this notion that we’re already relegated with this squad. It needs improving, and there’s a few who need sacking off ASAP, but within the space of 24 hours we’ve gone from a seven point gap to just four points.

We have six games for the remainder of 2018, and that’s enough time to turn things around even before the transfer window opens.

I doubt if it will happen, but a quick glance at Tuesday’s fixtures suggest that if all goes well we could be just one point away from the drop zone. This after just two games of a change of ethos…

Yes, it will be a slog, if we do survive it won’t be until late on in the season – maybe even another last-day set of heroics? There’s plenty of twists and other turns to come.

But it’s still very tight down there, and there’s still a lot of games still to be played. And I mean, a lot.

I’m glad we made the managerial change when we did, as it’s given us a chance, and while I’d rather the new guy was in charge at Posh, at least we’ll likely have him in by the time we face Halifax.

No, I don’t know who it is, though the bookies favourite doesn’t appear to be smoke without fire. I’m in two minds about Wally Downes, because it would be another ex-Wimbledon connection and I do question how much he knows about English football in 2018/19.

That said, personality wise he does have that trait of what my old man would have called a “toe-rag”. That’s not a bad thing, especially with a team (and dare I say a club?) that is lacking in an identity right now.

And like the other candidates, it all depends on who his right hand man is. That’s almost as important as getting the correct manager in, as Terry Burton proved when OGEM’s ego got the better of him.

They won’t be taking over a great squad, by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t believe we’re a totally lost cause just yet.

That’s for this week. I note that NA is already back in management, and he’s about to take charge of Notts County. A job he got linked to in the summer, and one I bet in hindsight he may have wished he took after all.

It may be a bit “convenient” that the position became available at the same time he left AFCW. It’s also interesting (perhaps) that he’s gone straight back into a likely highly stressful role again.

He may still need to pay his mortgage off, or he felt that if he was too long without a job, he’d be forgotten like so many other “promising” managers.

Cox is beside him again, though he’ll definitely find less patience at Meadow Lane rather than KM. Especially as there will be more scrutiny on him from local media for starters.

One thing is clear though. Some managers like to raid their old clubs for players, and I’m sure we can put a good few up towards the fleshpots of Nottingham this January…