Are we back into it again? It seems so…
So, in the phoney war that are pre-season friendlies, we actually managed to win a game. And even managed not to fuck up right at the end.
Against a team in the Championship last season, no less. So it wasn’t just those who went to Benidorm who partied hard afterwards.
It sounds like everyone had a good time out there, although I would have gone if it was somewhere interesting like Germany.
Instead, I listened to the impromptu WDON commentary on Twatter Spaces for the game, as I wasn’t going to shell out a fiver for the stream.
And I have to say, we sounded…. all right.
One thing about the first PSF is that you get to see at least some of the newbies take the field. They seemed to do well enough, and Ninetown has already set a marker.
A couple of those in the proper games wouldn’t go amiss. Hell, we would take a toe-poke from a yard out these days.
It’s only the first game, but I suspect the week down in Spain has had its desired effect.
Those who went to the pre-game reunión a couple of days ago say how the all-round vibe seemed better than it was last season already.
Granted, it couldn’t get much lower, but maybe we just needed the month or two away from each other after all?
If you remember last season’s pre-season campaign, we beat Bedford and Farnborough, but lost to Eastbourne Borough, Ipswich and yesterday’s opponents.
Even the 0-0 against Oxford we ended up with right at the end of them felt like winning promotion by that stage.
Already there’s a sense of better preparation. JJ (and Cope and Thorn) have managed to get eight in already (and more on our latest addition in a bit), which helps a lot.
Granted, there’s a couple of questions. Like why isn’t Pell playing, or why did Brown and Woodyard feature?
It would be nice to get some absentee news from AFCW, but it’s part of the club’s consitution to not give out information the punters might actually want to know.
As for the latter, this assumes the two of them are the supposed bad apples in the group.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that whoever fans believe are disruptive can be wrong.
As an example, Gunter was considered one of the most professional people at the club last season, though you wouldn’t believe that from the supporters.
I don’t know if Brown (who did make a dick of himself at the end-of-season do) and Woodyard (who may simply need a good pre-season) are in that category.
I guess what’s happened is that as reality has bitten** an olive branch has been offered to the apparently disruptive ones.
Promise to knuckle down, don’t spread shit and don’t be a penis, and we’ll try and arrange something that suits all parties.
** – perhaps Cope’s biggest error thus far was making the “ruthless cull” comment at the now notorious fans forum.
In hindsight he would probably have been more nuanced, and said that it wouldn’t just happen this summer.
Although even if he did say that – how many supporters would have ignored it anyway?
Don’t get me wrong, I won’t shed a tear if either of them – or indeed, anyone from last year bar Al-Hamadi – were sent to Hartlepool.
Hell, there’ll be a long queue offering to drive them up there at a moment’s notice.
But in the real world, especially in the lower divisions, ostracising players comes with a lot of risk and should only be used as a last resort.
Seeing certain players still in the fold will stick in the throat of many, but if we’re lumbered with them we should try and make it work.
And no, that certainly doesn’t make JJ a weak coach for doing it. His job is “manager”, which means you have to manage players.
Even – or especially – the ones you don’t want around.
Getting new players in might improve the squad dynamics, and as said earlier we added yet another one in Spain.
Well, if you count Armani Little as a “new” player.
When Jackson let it slip about him being a few months away from fitness last season, I did wonder if that was the intention.
Out of the loanees last campaign, he was one of the better ones – especially when he was playing with Pell.
To be honest, I’m not totally convinced with this particular (re)signing, if only because he was part of the dreadful run.
Like all the others though, he gets a cleanish slate again. And winning against a L1 side in your first game back doesn’t hurt.
We also had a trialist as well, apparently a local who trained with us in the week.
This time of year always brings out the frenzied Google searches for any bit of info, though at time of writing there’s been no identity of him.
Whether we’ll take him on full time I don’t know, I expect we wouldn’t need an extra space on the plane home though.
We’ll see whether this new found optimism lasts when we go to Imber Court on Wednesday, then down to Woking on Saturday at mid-day.
I’ve got a one-man Mandela effect over the last time we played at the Kingsfield Stadium – we weren’t there last season but I’m still convinced we were.
It was when MR took over full time, we lost and we barely looked capable of scoring. Which was a sign of things to come.
This time round, if we could just get even one strike on target it would be a huge step forward…