Yes, it’s a rare midweek update. And yes, it really is the middle of the night.
As I write this with an Erdinger next to me, having driven back from darkest Nottinghamshire in pissing down weather, I’m really not sure what to make of tonight.
To lose 5-2 away from home is bad enough at any time. To do it when you’re 2-0 up after twenty minutes just makes it ten times worse.
And this evening, a painful reality check was dished out upon us.
Before that, a very quick precis of the game. We started off brightly, Manbun Davison netted after about three minutes and they couldn’t handle NYC’s pace.
They composed themselves, and started to look a little bit threatening. I said to somebody behind me we needed a second goal…
Which we did.
There was both genuine glee and that nagging sense in the back of my mind that 2-0 up is the worst possible scoreline AFCW can have right now.
For some reason, we just sat back and allowed Mansfield onto us. Like Doncaster on Saturday, it felt like it was like last season again.
Once they got their penalty, it was almost game over. We just offered nothing after that.
Of course, it got worse with it not only going 2-2 but Gunter getting sent off for basically having the ref conned.
I’m not quite sure why NYC was pulled at half time, and Isaac Ogundere came on. But it didn’t do much, and there was a sense of inevitability even before they went ahead.
And really, they could have ended the game there and then.
I left when it went 5-2, I didn’t want to stay in Mansfield any longer than necessary. Indeed, I was half-surprised that was the end of the scoring.
JJ’s interview is already up on the OS, but it’s a bit too late now for me to listen to it. Like all manager interviews, how he appears on the screen will be different to what he says in the dressing room.
The truth is, tonight we capitulated. Badly.
It’s down to two things. The first is that we’re still way too thin in the squad. Even before Gunter’s red card, we were crying out for somebody (particularly in the midfield) who had the nous and experience to take the sting out of the game.
Tonight, we replaced NYC with Ogundere and David Fisher for Jack Currie. Two youngsters for two youngsters.
They didn’t do much wrong, no more than anyone else, but we’re again relying on lads who should really be on loan gaining experience.
On the way back this evening, and hopefully by the time you get up and muster up the bravery to read this place, I hope JJ, Skiverton et al are finalising packing off McCormick.
Then, we take his wages and whatever fee we can get, and snare somebody who has played more than five minutes of league football.
We’ve long cried out for a Danny Bulman ever since the original one left, and Woodyard remains injured.
We still have time in the transfer window, and it’s a good job we’ve found this out now rather than in September.
The other reason is that too much of this squad is here from last season. And by that, I mean they remain mentally broken.
This is the third game in a row where we’ve defensively collapsed.
The Carabao Cup didn’t matter. But Doncaster did. And Mansfield was the kick in the bollocks in hindsight was coming.
We are in L2 partly because we kept collapsing, and in truth nothing much has changed despite some very good signings.
Too many players are still mentally weak when they need to be strong, and JJ isn’t a psychologist.
When you’re 2-0 up after 86 minutes, or even 26 minutes, you see the game out if you’ve got anything about you.
Tonight showed we haven’t. This was back to Mark Robinson being in charge.
We’ve got PTSD from too much of 21/22 hanging over us, and tonight was a horrible flashback to that.
This is definitely the first major task of JJ’s tenure. He might have thought he made real strides after Hartlepool, but we’ve gone backwards again.
There were just under 300 of us there tonight, and just about every one of us knew what was coming when it went to 2-1.
We’ve seen this movie far too many times before. And we need to break that cycle sooner rather than later.
There’s other questions too. Like – where the fuck is Kyle Hudlin?
Is he injured? Has he got Covid? Has he become homesick and wants to go back to Huddersfield? Something else entirely?
There’s no point asking AFCW for any info, because this club is culturally hostile to telling anyone anything.
There will be the usual conspiracy theories, but as the club operates a wall of silence for, well, just about anything that isn’t after your money you can’t blame the rumour brigade.
Is McCormick persona non grata now? I don’t expect to officially be told his attitude stinks of shit, but I’ve got to the stage I’d sack him off for anything remotely decent.
And indeed, where do we go from here?
At least we’re capable of scoring goals, and Davison getting off the mark is a good thing. Him and NYC could be a handful this campaign.
But we cannot keep them out the other end, and we all know what happens when you don’t deal with that.
Still tonight did give us a couple of decent chants. “Could be worse, we could live in Mansfield”, and “We get to go home, you have to live here” became the best part of the night.
And on the way back, inbetween listening to Derek and Clive on the smartphone/bluetooth speaker combo, I had this particular bit of genius still in my head:
“Looking back on when we first met.
I cannot escape, and I cannot forget.
We were 2-0 up.
And we fucked it up.
Same old Wimbledon again”
Never has an Atomic Kitten song been so apt…