We’re back. And we’re already out of the Carabao Cup…
Like unicorns, words that rhyme with “orange” and Franchise’s history before 2002, the second round of the League Cup becomes the beast of mystery that few ever see.
For seemingly the zillionth year in a row (though ironically the final NA season saw us break that hoodoo), we’ve failed to progress past the first round. And no, it doesn’t get any funnier each time.
At least it wasn’t losing on penalties to Franchise this year.
Admittedly, when we drew Oxford at the Kassam I don’t think anyone expected anything other than a gubbing.
But spot kicks aside, there’s some positive signs coming out of this and Charlton earlier in the week.
I’ll be honest – I wasn’t going to pay £10 to watch today, and I don’t really like listening to radio commentaries anyway for some reason.
So while I’m not going to sit here and pontificate on something I haven’t viewed (which doesn’t normally stop me) – we’ve come a long way from the toilet that lost 5-0 there last time out.
I haven’t seen the Oxford goal, although more than a few are blaming Trueman. I did get to look at our equaliser, and you can’t beat a good scramble.
Sadly, the positivity is neutered somewhat with our penalty taking. I wouldn’t have shed tears if Hartigan had gone in the summer, and today didn’t change my mind.
Once he missed that, our defeat looked inevitable.
Indeed, this Monday on the training field, we should spend at least until sunset practicing from twelve yards out.
Our strike force is better this season already (well, it couldn’t get any worse), but we’ll need to take our chances when we get them.
And penalties are going to be an important part of that.
Why some of the other players didn’t take the spot kick in normal time I don’t know – Piggy was on the field, IIRC, but so was O’Neil.
I don’t doubt there’s other issues GH and Nick Daws have learned about today either.
Many of our fans seem to be unsure about Trueman, to put it mildly. And a dodgy keeper could be fatal this campaign.
Granted, there’s going into competitive football after a six-month break, and I’m more annoyed about this afternoon than dismayed.
Which I think is a good thing.
We’ve come behind twice this week, which in one way isn’t a bad trait to have. Unfortunately, we still can’t stop conceding first to begin with.
We’re starting to find the net, and Roscrow scoring against the Addicks was promising.
And even today, it was only our inability from the penalty spot that prevented us from the promised land of the Carabao Cup second round.
On second thoughts, if we did progress in this tournament, we wouldn’t know what to do.
So with the league starting again this time next week, it does feel like we’re on the right track.
We may need another left back, and perhaps another striker (though we’ll likely wait for Palmer to become fit).
But if that’s all we now need, we’re in a good place. At least, in a better one than previous campaigns anyway.
I’m not expecting us to become champions by February, I’m not even expecting a top half finish.
I do think we’re capable of comfortably surviving in L1 though, just like I did last season.
This time round, we don’t have the obvious passengers swallowing up the wages and crippling us.
Nor do we have a manager who is fast approaching his sell-by date at a rate of knots either.
So, yeah – I’m pissed off that we didn’t win today, and we shot ourselves in the foot, but I now can’t wait for us to put it right at Northampton next Saturday.
Which is better than dreading the next game. Something we’ve got too used to in previous years.
A few other things : for obvious reasons, I’m very rarely at home on a Saturday so I don’t get to see/hear the iFollow issues at the coal face.
Today I did, and while it technically seemed to work well enough, you have to ask around to find out info that should be right in front of you.
I’m reasonably tech savvy, and I had to find the away commentary via trial-and-error, and it seems a lot of people did too.
I know the club posted something on the OS yesterday about what was available, when, and how you access the very thing people were trying to find.
But this kind of thing needs to be reposted a couple of times more – and certainly before the game, when most people will be searching for information – because it’s very easily forgotten by ordinary punters.
When people say AFCW’s comms are bad, they’re not wrong, but I think I worked out today what one of its biggest issues is.
It’s not that they don’t tell you things, although I think the club could be better on that score anyway, it’s that they mention it once and it gets buried.
There’s long been an assumption, perhaps unintentionally, that people spend their whole time on WUP and other social media outlets and know everything anyway.
But they don’t. And they miss half of what goes on when they shouldn’t need to.
What’s the point of telling people about listening to commentary over twenty-four hours beforehand, and not mentioning it again?
The day before, most of us are working or doing something else. Like having a life.
You might think that’s a minor thing, but it isn’t when you’re taking money from people for a service that will be relied on immensely for the next few months.
It was very telling the amount of people today who were asking how to get WDON instead of BBC Oxford.
And they weren’t all oldies either.
I accept that the club is in the middle of a highly taxing move anyway, in the middle of a once-in-a-generation health clusterfuck.
Once it does though, it will need to up its game in so many areas. We cannot escape being a professional football club any longer.
Still, at least complaining about AFCW’s approach to comms proves the season is back. Normality isn’t far below the surface after all.
One final thing – does anyone think that playing the Carabao Cup games the weekend before the new season starts is a goer?
It seems better to have it rather than some PSF against Woking where you’re waiting for the real thing to start.
And given our record in the League Cup, it’s not like the result matters anyway…