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Crawl to a halt

A headline that is going to be so apt from now until May.

Looking forward to Crawley tomorrow? No, nobody is, and you really can’t blame them.

You certainly can’t blame the Iraqi Scouser if he decides to head to Russia with his national team early, given how he’s single-handedly kept us on the scoresheets.

Not to mention they’re fighting for their lives and we’re, well, not.

Before I go on, your editor went to Newport in the week, and I resisted the temptation to write words until this Friday morning.

Now as then, my thoughts still remain the same – the arse has gone out of this bunch of players.

It’s as though they have got no confidence left whatsoever, and they know they’ve got nothing to play for any more.

Granted, that last assumption is a dangerous one, but given we drew despite being far too much on the back foot (against a team not better than us on paper) then you suspect we’ll grind out enough points to be lower mid-table.

On Tuesday, we stopped the losing run, and never dismiss what a big deal that is.

Whether we’ve lost the ability to win games remains to be seen, though in truth we probably have.

We could have won in Cymru if we were braver and more confident, but for various reasons we don’t seem capable of doing so these days.

Tomorrow against Crawley isn’t likely to be much different, which is why I’m glad I’m at Watford v Wigan instead.

I do wonder if this particular game may end up being a watershed, especially if we go ahead through Al-Hamadi and surrender it again PDQ.

Patience is wearing thinner and thinner now, and don’t be surprised if it’s Sutton at home all over again.

Which leads us onto the focus of this weeks chatter on various cyber saloon bars.

I’ve no doubt there will be some wanting JJ out looking enviously across south London this morning.

Some will compare Palace’s run without wins to ours, but Vieira didn’t have some of his squad turfed out then given £1.50 for replacements.

For that reason alone, I don’t think axing Jackson is the answer.

Most other managers in that situation would be dealing with the same problems our current manager is.

We’ve lost Pell for a while, probably because we’ve had to run him into the ground, ditto Biler, and possibly Pearce again. Their absence has made a notable difference.

Granted, JJ hasn’t helped himself sometimes with lack of subs at times. Newport on Tuesday was a great example of that.

Though as many others have pointed out recently – perhaps our lack of depth is being deliberately highlighted by our manager?

I’m never convinced when things like “he can’t use subs properly”, or “he’s playing that player in the wrong position” are used to justify a sacking.

Every manager makes mistakes, especially outside the top flight, and any replacement will be doing exactly that.

This won’t go down well with some, but we can only see how well/badly JJ is doing this time next year.

If we start badly next season under him, then by all means get the P45 out. Ditto if we’re in the same position this time next year as we are now.

Looking at it objectively though, there’s no real reason to sack Johnnie Jackson at this moment.

We should be in the EFL again this campaign, and in truth we’re 99.99% there already.

He took over a team that was freefalling, managed to turn it around to the point where we only lost to Sutton between late October and early February.

It’s slumped since Hartlepool at home, but as said earlier most managers would have struggled with what happened in January.

And if we’re being honest here – we need stability more than anything right now.

In recent years, we’ve sacked too many managers and it’s becoming difficult to build anything on-field beyond short-term thinking.

Five bosses in as many years isn’t a sign of cohesion, though it’s not like Ardley, Walter, Hodges and Mark Robinson should have stayed on any longer than they did.

Though I still wonder what this season would have been like if Bowen and Eddy Neddy had stayed on last summer.

Probably not much different though. And maybe, just maybe, the problems aren’t on the manager bench but in the boardrooms…?

JJ himself might walk though, and if it’s true the club did some kind of bait-and-switch over the transfer budget in January then he’ll bail when he gets a better offer.

Then we start getting a reputation of being a poisoned chalice to manage, and that will make our life harder than it needs to be.

I doubt AFCW can actually afford to sack JJ (and presumably Skiverton too), and Jackson himself is smart enough not to dip out on any severance.

So we might be in the middle of what somebody elsewhere recently described as a loveless marriage. Though how often do you see “beloved” managers eventually become figures of hate?

Funny the difference a month makes in football, although I’m sure we were in a similar spot around October.

A win – any win – will help moods right now, and the lack of confidence is in the stands too.

Victory tomorrow wouldn’t be a bad time to start remembering how to hold onto leads, and it’s always satisfying to beat Crawley.

Maybe it would be best if we went behind to them though, and go ahead right on full time…

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