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This Is It

This time, we’ll know it’s the real thing…

So, welcome to what we will term for the next nine months as “this season”. Where all games matter, and where many a weekend will get ruined.

Despite the last competitive fixture being Lincoln on the 8th May – a mere three months ago – it always seems to come around too quickly.

Although as the last eighteen months have taught us, time can be a deceptive thing.

We go into tomorrow at Donny with a hint of trepidation, considering our lousy pre-season form.

One only hopes that we were properly preparing this week on the training ground, and that the last month has really been a phoney war.

We need a reasonable start this time around, otherwise the nerves will definitely be jangling by the time we go to Portman Road this month.

We have made another signing though, and it’s welcome to AFCW Dapo Mebude. Another promising youngster from a Premier League side on loan, though you shouldn’t really expect much different now.

Typically, he’s not yet up to speed, so those going to the Keepmoat won’t be able to give a scouting report on him.

But everyone else is raring to go, according to MR. Who practically said the same thing at last night’s Meet The Head Coach Manager.

I’m not going to write anything other than very brief thoughts on last night, those who want to see the full thing can go elsewhere.

Robbo seems confident, yet appreciative of the position he now finds himself in. He certainly has a plan, or “process” as he often called it.

I suppose because he’s spent life outside of football running his own business, he’s not totally immersed in the whole culture, as managers often are.

That’s maybe why he doesn’t seem to panic or let things get to him – worse things happen at sea, after all.

There wasn’t actually much we didn’t really know (or could guess) from what he said.

There was some interesting stuff about how the presentations to Premier League clubs go, and it sounds like patience is a key as much as anything.

He also emphasised a lot about looking further ahead than just short term, so he expects to be here this time next season.

That’s always a hostage to fortune, as Robbo isn’t immune from the sack if we have a run like we did between last December and January.

If things do go pear shaped this season, the club may have the most difficult decision it faces for some years.

I know some will talk about sticking with him for a number of years, even (or especially) if we go down, but in modern professional football it doesn’t work like that.

To be fair, I think Robbo knows that too. As do most people who take the reins as a football manager.

The only comment our Head Coach made that sticks in your editor’s mind this morning was about pre season friendlies generally.

Basically, some of the games we’ve played were contractual obligation ones, and a lot he felt were a waste of time.

To paraphrase, we could have spent most of it on the traning ground then play three PSFs in the space of a week before the season starts, and be in the same position come the new season.

And yes, somebody did ask him whether those three games would take place in Germany…

Other bits and bobs from last night : the new red kit looks nice, as it goes. Jack Rudoni and Ben Henegan made a cameo beforehand in them, and both looked thrilled to have a microphone shoved in front of them.

Alex Woodyard joined in the second half, and I think we’ll need the likes of him to step up as much as anyone else.

The biggest takeaway was this being the first MTM at Plough Lane.

I hated going to KM towards the end, especially the bar areas, so you can imagine what I thought of previous shindigs there.

The upgrade is beyond immeasurable. Even just walking to the main entrance, with automatic doors and somebody suited and booted pointing you to reception, makes you realise we’re in a totally different place now.

In both senses of the word.

Your editor has been in the big conference room twice before, getting his anti-Rona jabs, so it wasn’t new to me, but I was still looking around the place like I did the first time.

But when you think of the rabbit hutch that was KM, and how the bars were one step up from an old Working Man’s Club, you can’t help be in awe.

Utilise it properly, and it’ll be a damn good moneyspinner. The infrastructure is there, even down to the catering and bar areas.

You’d want to have a conference there, if you had the opportunity to arrange one. Even if a small bottle of Diet Coke costs £2.50.

I’d like that to be the only moan before 2021/22 kicks off, but predictably the ticket system has become a clusterfuck.

People not being able to log in, Stadium Card and/or DT membership not linked to tickets (meaning discounts not applied), and the club having to suspend ST sales because the whole system can’t cope.

We’re back at Plough Lane, but our bread-and-butter operations are still at Kingsmeadow.

I know it’s teething troubles etc, and I expect it will be sorted eventually, but does nobody bother to test the whole thing beforehand?

No, I don’t accept that we’ve had to rush it through, because in the worst case scenario we’ve had three months to see it all functions properly.

Your editor does web testing as a sideline (available for hire, reasonable rates…) and people like me would pick up on the issues straight away.

We no longer have the luxury (?) of having limited capacity – we need to make buying tickets as easy as possible for casual supporters.

Plough Lane is a lovely venue, and it would be a tragic waste of an opportunity if the club’s lingering non-league mentality holds it back.

It would be even worse if we didn’t have poor Mandy at the office being a one-woman firefighter.

But then, as somebody said to your editor many moons ago – if you’re at AFCW and you’re good at what you do, you’ll be doing the work of three other people…

Finally, your editor isn’t in south Yorkshire tomorrow. I’m back on it, and irony of ironies – I’m at Selhurst Park.

Palace v Watford in a PSF if you must know (and yes, I’m getting paid to be there).

While I expect very few have ventured back to SE25 since 2002, it never hurts revisiting the place where WFC started its death march.

Tomorrow week will complete the whole circle, but I do wonder if we need to draw Palace away in a cup just to bring that particular episode to a close.

It’s not like the place will have changed much since WFC played its last game there…

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