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Musical Chairs

No, you haven’t already been on the Christmas sherry – we did win yesterday…

So, a turning point? Perhaps. But then, by the sound of it Wycombe might have been one of the classic away victories that you only tended to read in history books.

As a reminder of how wretched we’ve been, our last victory on the road was Gillingham. That was on the 8th of September, and you can do your own calculations about how long that was.

Actually, I think we haven’t even drawn a game away from KM since that time, so at least another horrible stat has finally been banished.

True, we’re still bottom, and yesterday must only be the start of our rise upwards. But this may turn out to be one of the most important results for some time, and that’s not hyperbolic to say that.

Firstly, it gives WD his first win as manager. The longer it went without him gaining that the more pressure would be building on him already.

Yesterday sounded like his approach was starting to pay off, and this morning the players themselves must be thinking “yeah, this may be working….”. Any new manager needs his squad to buy into his ideas sooner rather than later, after all.

Going ahead away from home, especially with our run of form – and against a team that’s won the last six on their patch – is always going to be difficult, especially as they’re known for the aerial bombardment approach.

That we held out on it until very late on, after we got that vital second goal, is testament to the developing of a spine we’ve so badly lacked. That comes with confidence, and hopefully everyone will be kicking themselves for not keeping a clean sheet.

Also, one wonders if King coming in again has contributed to that?

Secondly, note the goalscorers – Appiah and Jervis. Both much maligned, at times outright hated, but both showed what they can do in goal.

The Jervis effort might be too little, too late for him at AFCW (his celebrations suggested he might be looking forward to returning to Luton), but it was an undeniably good finish. It would be ironic if our turning point came down to him.

As for Mr Championship-Quality, maybe that particular nickname may not be used in negative terms after all?

Appiah’s issues are pretty much between the ears, and it was interesting to see Walter mention that in his post-match interview:

“I remember seeing Kwesi when he was a younger player and he was always very dynamic and that was exactly what I wanted from him today. He led the line really well.

If our new management team can get inside his head, then all well and good. Appiah does play like he’s expecting one final career-ending injury, so it was telling those there yesterday reckoned he wasn’t holding back.

We gave him extra training last weekend, and like the others – he knows that he’s expected to be a lot fitter nowadays.

Regardless of what you think of him, we will need him over both the next two weeks and the rest of the season. It will make our lives a lot easier if he can find the goalscoring trail again.

But then, he might be somebody who will benefit from the harder work ethic. One wonders how the players will cope now they’re training Xmas Day these days, although I hope they’ll embrace it.

Thirdly, and most importantly – we’re just three points off safety now. Which considering we were about seven points adrift when WD came in is not bad at all.

Don’t underestimate the psychological impact of that. We probably won’t be, but we could be outside the drop zone after we play Blackpool, and that would be a massive turnaround already.

But even if we’re still in those four bottom positions of doom – as long as we’re not too far adrift then anything can happen between January and early May.

There are a lot of games to be played between now and when the season ends. And if we’re starting to find our backbone and ability to gain points again…

We’ll know more after Boxing Day, where we should be going all out to win. Beat Plymouth and we could do ourselves a lot of good.

Even so, this is only the start of it, and I don’t think it changes too much what we need to do in January. Perhaps the current players know that themselves, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

We can speculate what types of players will come in, but just as importantly who will be leaving us. Jervis seems the obvious one to go back, despite his impressive strike, and I doubt he or us will miss each other.

Other loanees may go or stay, but it’s the likes of Trotter that are intriguing.

It’s more than noteworthy that he was subbed in WD’s first (half) game at Chelski, and has only played a bit-part since. Even Soares has played more minutes than he has.

Could he be one of the first to go after (or even before) Pompey? You can’t say we’re worse without him, and IIRC he’s out of contract at the end of the season anyway.

That depends on who will want somebody like him, of course. Notts County? I did notice that result yesterday (and NA’s post match interview has a sense of deja vu, even down to the soul-sucking vibe it gives out).

That is of course if they want to go to Meadow Lane. If they think they can still make a fist of it at KM, they don’t have to agree to leave. Although I suspect a couple of them probably see the writing on the wall.

We’ll see next month. But for now, you can go into Xmas knowing even this lot can do something. Since WD has got here, our form is W1 D1 L1 – on average, that will keep you up virtually every season.

And by just winning one game and closing the points gap, you feel a lot more confident this morning. Funny, that…