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Tyne and Weary

Is it safe to come back out yet?

As the August Bank Holiday disappears quicker than an AFCW lead, we spend the time licking our wounds after Sunderland.

It didn’t sound good. Especially the second half.

The thing is though, Saturday didn’t tell us anything unexpected. This was always on the cards, both the performance and the result, and I don’t think anyone was that surprised.

While we shouldn’t make excuses for the latest defeat (p5 w0 d1 l4), one wonders if the heroic failure at Portman Road proved to be a hangover too many.

But there’s no escaping this – we have problems.

Much of those issues are inbetween the ears. If we’d had done our job against Rotherham, t’Stanley and Ipswich, we would have been OK right now. Individual errors have crippled us, and for that reason alone, I’m not going to freak out over a bad day at Sunderland. Shit happens.

The problem with ever deflating confidence is that the much needed win becomes harder the longer we don’t get it.

This August has been like January, where we lost to Pompey, Barnsley and that horror show against Fleetwood, and a draw at Coventry where by all accounts some are still taking Prozac because of it.

True, that month also saw the WHU FAC game that ultimately kick-started our season, but even then it took us until March to eventually get going.

Inbetween that time we beat Walsall and Rochdale, so you have to wonder when (if?) we get our next similar victory.

One thing is clear, we need that sooner rather than later. Which is why this week is already one of the most important for some time.

Firstly, we simply have to get something against Wycombe. Especially considering the circus the following weekend, where we’ll inevitably let ourselves down again.

A draw may soothe things a little bit, though not as much as a win will. A loss will set the alarm bells ringing though, especially a bad one.

The mood right now isn’t great as it is, so you can imagine what yet another defeat will do.

Secondly, the transfer window shuts less than a week from today. You’ve heard all the stories about not having any more money, reduced spending power etc etc. All not untrue.

It’s pretty obvious now that we need at least one more player with a bit of experience. While it’s good Nightingale is back, and Wordsworth is getting there again, we’ve been left too exposed by their absence.

I’m all for blooding youngsters, but they need more help than they’re currently getting.

As is Walter. The majority of fans seem to accept that his hands have been tied, even if his recent substitutions haven’t exactly whelmed people.

But I don’t doubt he knows where we need to still strengthen, and I hope he’s badgering the decision makers all this week, and being a right pain in the arse with them.

So the question is – if we’re really that skint, how do we get the funds?

The obvious answer is selling a player, and the rumour mill is suggesting Piggy might be on his way. Which would be…. interesting.

We’d certainly get a fair wedge for him, and it’s telling that he’s been on the bench post-Franchise and our ability to score hasn’t got worse.

One suspects any new addition will either be this mythical target man** and we keep Piggy, or he goes and we boost ourselves in other areas.

** – and is it me, or do we always seem to be after one every season?

And Walter must have the vast majority of any Pigott (or whoever) transfer fee to spend. That would be a cash-grab by AFCW too far if he’s not.

Should we sell, then the club will have run out of excuses not to put any more in the kitty. Especially if it’s true we’ve finally stopped paying our former manager and his sidekick recently. I refuse to believe we couldn’t get at least one experienced player in with that.

So there’s much pressure on AFCW itself right now. It continues to give the impression it hasn’t fully come to terms with what you need to spend in L1.

Yes, this division has a lot of ordinary players who are paid much more than they’re worth. Yes, developing your own is worth its weight in gold. And yes, you need to know when to sell high, which is why there may be something in the Pigott rumours.

But it is sobering to think that the increased budget Ardley got is likely to be the minimum you need to be a regular L1 club.

Player wages aren’t going down any time soon, selling Sibbick and seeing we only got two replacements at most should demonstrate that.

Financial prudence is all very well, but it’s already clear correcting last season’s overspend hasn’t worked. It’s left us vulnerable, and over-reliant on both our youngsters and our few senior players remaining injury free and on form.

So it may still be summer, but it’s already looking like this season is yet another long slog coming up. And that wasn’t supposed to happen this time around.

If that’s the case, one wonders what the fallout will end up being.

In 2018/19, the manager, his assistant, the CEO and every incumbent DTB member who was standing for re-election all went. That was a clear-out, and then some, yet already it doesn’t feel it went far enough.

While I don’t expect either WD or Joe Palmer to depart, could we see more well-known faces leave the scene?

The mood for change is still there, and that only increases when it’s promised (expected?) but you see no difference after all.

Whatever happens, it’s an interesting time ahead. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve had to change tack in August (remember the L2 promotion season?), and besides – when it comes down to it, necessity trumps all…