You’d need to be one to enjoy our “defending” right now…
Yes, your editor was at the Valley yesterday. Yes, it’s a proper SW19 report.
And yes, if I had to sit through the whole of Back To The Valley 5 Back To Plough Lane 2, you have to sit through this writeup too.
The trouble is, what can anyone say?
You don’t need me to remind you that we went 2-1 ahead (with two decent goals, to be fair), then went behind in the space of two minutes.
We were kind-of in the game at 3-2, and in that situation – just one goal out of nowhere makes all the difference.
But watching it in the flesh, it was more likely that Charlton were going to make it 4-2 rather than us making it 3-3.
OK, 5-2 was maybe a little bit harsh, but given how brittle our defending continues to be, it probably wasn’t.
You’ll get all the post-match comments about the lack of experience, but I’m starting to believe it’s deeper than that now.
If inexperience is the main issue, then Heneghan would have made a considerable difference already.
And youngsters at the back either completely sink, or they start to improve.
It’s not like we’ve got first year pros at the back anyway. Our defence yesterday, and other recent games, are Heneghan, Terrell Thomas and Daniel Csoka, with the odd cameo from Will Nightingale.
Our Hungarian is 20 years old, granted. But both Thomas and Nightingale are 25 years old, and Heneghan himself is 27.
The only way you can call them “inexperienced” is if you think they literally turned up to the training ground in the summer and asked for a job.
All right, you could start going through the midfield, but Rudoni in particular isn’t doing much wrong.
So it’s something more than just games under the belts. And you have to assume now it’s coaching and tactics.
True, we haven’t had much time to get on the training ground in the last month, but even so there should be a basic minimum of organisation.
I know little about tactics (and care even less), but if we’re playing three at the back and shipping goals – it’s obviously not working.
The problem with yesterday was the same against Crawley and Brizzle Rovers, to name but two : when we let the lead slip again, we know we’ve lost the game.
That’s mental weakness, a feebleness that has apparently cost us 19 points this season.
And the January window can’t come quick enough, because we need to change something – anything – as we’re heading towards yet another relegation battle without realising it.
As for the whole going to games in the flesh experience? It was nice to be back, I have to admit, though we would have taken a lot yesterday.
Maybe that would have made a bit more of a positive difference? Although it might have made things worse…
Plus points: Going 2-1 ahead. Still knowing how to score goals.
Minus points: Usual feebleness where it really matters. Feeling of deja vu.
The referee’s a…: Some during the game were criticising him for being a bit of a home boy, but it’s never a good look when you’re pointing the blame away from your own failings.
Them: Bit more quality than us, and unfortunately it showed.
They only got relegated IMO because Lyle Taylor had a hissy fit, and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if they’re in the Championship next season again.
Even so, the way we seemed to just let them have all those goals sticks in the throat even this morning.
I’ll mention a little bit more about having a crowd back in a bit later, but before (and after) the game, they were giving rapturous applause to their new owner, Thomas Sandgaard.
He’s certainly saying and doing the right things, and I like the way he’s a Metallica fan (and got them to play Enter Sandman over the PA).
But let’s see how long that lasts. Charlton are a basket case at the best of times, and no club is perfectly run.
The 2000 in the ground were irate when Trueman was time wasting at 2-1 (oh, how that backfired on us), although to be fair, their “We can see you sneaking out” was pretty funny…
Three’s a crowd: OK, there won’t be any more crowds for now in London when we’re all put into this Tier 3 later this week, but it definitely makes a difference.
And in a good way too.
I’ve done enough games behind closed doors this year to know that even a fraction of the usual crowd in makes it more “real”.
It’s the spontaneity that is missing with the artificial crowd noise (see the chant above aimed at our non-existent support).
Did it help Charlton having their own people in, giving them a lift? Definitely, and I think clubs who can host fans will find their home form improving somewhat.
Once fans get barred again from games in London by next weekend, you’ll notice the difference. And it won’t be good…
Point to ponder: Is GH under more pressure than we think?
No, I don’t expect a managerial change any time soon, but his honeymoon/goodwill period is finally over.
Sticking with a failing setup at the back is certainly cooling things with an increasing amount of fans, and I suppose it’s lucky all round we haven’t had supporters in the ground.
Our lot are quite tolerant, perhaps a bit too much so, but I can well imagine the reaction from the traveling support yesterday.
Especially with a backdrop of letting it slip so many times this season already.
And GH’s post match interviews are starting to sound samey, which is never a good sign. He’s clearly frustrated with the defensive weakness, although blaming inexperience is starting to wear a bit thin.
But then, he’s in a position to do something about it.
He’ll hopefully be backed in January, but even before then he needs to find an answer why we continue to leak goals.
I thought this last night, whilst on the train back from Charlton station – in the past AFCW managers have always got more of a free pass than most other clubs would give them.
This is especially true for those with an ex-Wimbledon background, but as Walter’s demise showed, we might be a bit less sentimental.
And perhaps GH knows this himself? I don’t want us to become a Hiram Firam club, but a bit of intolerance of crap is never a bad thing…
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Watching my first game in the flesh since Ipswich in February. It’s been a while. 2) Speaking to a couple of our ensemble in the press area, the way we’re able to talk about our new home generates genuine pride sticks out. Even when mentioning that we’ve now got double the capacity in the press box. Little things…
Anything else? So, about this proposed groundsharing with London Broncos that broke last night…
To be honest, it’s one of those things which was going to be inevitable at some point, though like so many things at AFCW – it’s crept up on us quicker than we thought.
I would have expected this to occur a couple of years down the road. But then, I expected facing Franchise, EFL football and financial issues to have happened longer than they did.
So, what? Well, the rugby league Super League is meeting tomorrow to see who is best served to be the 12th team in the division.
If it is Broncos, then they will need somewhere to play, and they’ve earmarked PL.
It may not happen at all, but it demonstrates that we’re willing to consider other uses for our new gaff.
To be honest, my attitude is this : show me the money.
I have no issues with Broncos groundsharing next season if it happens, providing the terms and conditions are in our favour.
If we get some money from bar takings, after the likes of Leeds, Warrington, St Helens and other Northern type fans descend to SW17, then it will help.
There’s some unhappy with it though, and their reasons seem to be : DT doing this under the radar, loss of identity, pitch issues.
The first one seems to be a classic case of idealism clashing with reality – some (many?) don’t seem to like the phrase “commercial confidentiality”, but that’s often the case in business.
That the timeline for the Super League is pretty close explains why this “temperature test” is being done so quickly, but that’s nothing to do with us.
I do think some of our fans need to realise that their desire for “transparency” is often incompatible with running a business in an environment where more often than not, discretion is advised.
Loss of identity at the new place? To be honest, I wouldn’t really notice it. Just like I didn’t really notice it when London Irish were at Reading, or when Wasps were at Wycombe.
Yes, you might get the odd crest or two, and you might get some Broncos garb in the club shop.
But it’s not really a deal breaker, and our “identity” is strong enough to have somebody sharing with us at PL.
Or at least it should be.
The pitch issue is probably the one that would make me think a little bit less of it, though apparently it’s not so much of a problem these days as one might think.
Indeed, the only thing that would put me off is Broncos themselves – apparently, they’re well backed these days.
But they’ve gone through an awful lot of home venues in the last two decades, and that’s a few warning signs there.
I wouldn’t be happy if there wasn’t an advantageous (for us) severance clause if they once again move sticks.
If there is, and we benefit from the arrangement, it makes sense not to go ahead with it.
I’d rather them than somebody like Chelski ladies. And anyway, it would give us a reason to go to Plough Lane in the summer…
So, was it worth it? At least your editor got paid for going.
In a nutshell: One step backwards…