Something I’m sure many of us have been feeling since 5pm yesterday…
Your editor is thankful I had some weekend work for a change, as spending money in the Open Golf Tribute Stand (in Kent) didn’t appeal.
Especially when you end up being completely unsurprised by the result.
I’ll be honest here – I’m not sure what angle to take on proceedings yesterday, and how it affects the rest of this season.
I haven’t bothered to look at the goals, as I’ve got better ways to spend my Sunday.
I’ve also only glanced at JJ’s post-match comments, and I’ll leave whether he’s right to those who were there.
That said, I did see that Pearce in particular was “touch and go” for Tuesday against St. Evenage.
Some will argue that the minute he went off against Hartlepool was the minute our playoff aims evaporated.
They might be right in that, although if he and PK can return by Mansfield next weekend…
Pierre got dropped, and one wonders if his card has already been marked. I don’t know if JJ mentioned him in any post-match interviews, but I won’t be surprised if he wasn’t.
Speaking of our manager, I don’t buy any of the knee-jerkism about his position that a few were spouting last night.
I’ll just put that down to frustration that we lost, and it was a bit cringeworthy to read after just one defeat.
JJ might leave on his own accord for a club that gives him a bit more help in the transfer market, and I believe the rumours he offered to quit after Sutton at PL.
As a club, we’ve made too many managerial sackings in the last few years, and we now need some stability.
Granted, all those axings needed to be done, but that merely highlighted the poor decision making in the boardroom as much as anything.
Jackson will make mistakes, some of them will prove costly, but there’s not a manager on the planet who doesn’t do likewise.
The irony is that the same people have often complained that we’ve not employed an outsider with at least a grizzled veteran beside him.
That’s exactly who we’ve got with JJ and Skiverton. They’re not perfect, but we could do a lot, lot worse than those two…
My big takeaway from this weekend is what do we do for the rest of the season, if the playoff positions are now unobtainable.
I think we should still stick with the mentality that a ten-point gap might be bridge-able, even if realistically it isn’t.
Why? Because it gives us something to aim for in the rest of the campaign.
My thinking is that while we’re more than safe** we could easily drop like a stone if we effectively give up on the season.
** – not mathematically, and I do think if we ever came close to it we’d suddenly knuckle down. The fallout if we did would be interesting though.
We should know what happens when you just can’t buy a win – just look at last season.
Should we go all-out for a top ten finish now? If the playoffs are really unobtainable, yes we should.
It will generate momentum, some end-of-season interest and makes planning in the next summer a bit easier.
Every close season is important, and this upcoming one will be no different.
On the other hand – would it be considered “failure” if we fall short of that top-ten finish? Perhaps.
But it depends what our aims were this campaign, and we’ve already achieved one of them.
Arguably the most important one was to stop us freefalling like our opponents yesterday have done.
They got a cash injection in January, and we’ll likely be going to Priestfield again next season.
We’ve done that. It wasn’t easy, and it took things to finally explode in mid-October, but we’re looking upwards again.
If you think our aim was to push for the playoffs, then we’ve probably already failed on that score.
Maybe because of the more important first aim, that was always a possibility rather than a likelyhood.
Very recent history tells you clubs relegated from League One don’t often find it easy.
Northampton are the only ones who have really looked to bounce back quickly, and the likes of Bradford, Swindon and Tranmere have done what we’re doing.
But I was long convinced they were achievable with a bit of luck and skill in the transfer market, and a bit of backing from the club itself.
It’s only been this weekend that I’ve accepted to myself they probably won’t happen this season now, and we should get a pressure-free run-in.
Whether we’ll spend this time next year thinking we blew a good opportunity in 2022/23 to go straight back up remains to be seen.
Finally, I note that the Iraqi Scouser scored again yesterday, and perhaps he just needed to get off the mark.
He’s our player next season, and with Davison (who needs a break ATM) we won’t need a total rebuild up front.
Don’t underestimate how important that could be.
Maybe one or two of our current loanees are try-to-buy? If so, we might spend the next couple of months getting a glimpse of 23/24 already…