Just think, the season ends in just over a month and five days time…
At least it won’t be too long now until you can finally enjoy your weekends again. Tomorrow against Cambridge promises to be a doozy.
In more ways than one.
Your editor is quite thankful he’ll be working elsewhere tomorrow (I’m at Colchester v Tranmere, so I’ll let you know what their new gaff is like for next season), as if we lose it could end up being a watershed.
And I say that off the back of the club’s public support of Mark Robinson this week.
Well, it’s more of a vote of confidence really by “the boards”, who are pretty much the same people on both of them.
A bit like if you buy car insurance from Quote Me Happy, and you find out it’s really Aviva.
My initial reaction to it was that it just re-confirmed my view they didn’t want to sack him.
There’s clearly a lot of personal attachment – and emotional investment – in him being our Head Coach from the decision makers.
It wouldn’t be the first time either. Terry Brown remained too long for this reason, and Neal Ardley was almost being kept on out of spite towards the end.
We’ve long had a weakness in splitting with managers, and this isn’t any different.
My following reaction was back to when Erik Samuelson backed NA before he was finally axed.
I linked to it in the Cheltenham report earlier this week, and then as now it mentioned that changing managers mid-stream doesn’t help at all.
It’s clearly taking a bullet for the guy in charge, but just as in 2018 it has the potential to make it look very stupid indeed.
After all, we’ve got games against Cambridge, Sheffield Weds and Charlton before the circus comes to SW17.
It’s not impossible that we won’t win any of them. Then how will that statement of support look?
As I’m writing this a couple of days after it was released, and while my initial views haven’t changed, there is some logic to making it.
If anything, it’s down to timing and the way the club is currently in a state of flux.
We don’t have a permanent CEO right now, and I don’t doubt that has affected major, potentially crucial decisions.
Though I would argue that there still needs to be a chain of command if and when things fuck up.
Rightly or wrongly, AFCW feels that with just over a month to go and eight games remaining, there’s no point in making a change when the squad is what it is.
There’s no obvious quick-fix replacement at the club. In previous seasons, it would have been Simon Bassey or even MR himself.
Our current head coach is lucky that there’s isn’t another figure like him who can come in at literally an hour’s notice.
And while they won’t admit it – perhaps the club simply can’t afford to sack Robbo right now?
I would expect – not hope – that the summer will force us to make some actual decisions that proper football clubs should be making.
If we stay up, then MR remains in charge. If we go down…
To the current hierarchy’s credit over this, it is admitting that it badly fucked up on a few things.
This is the main one, though it’s dressed up in management-speak:
The board has challenged itself as to whether more could have been done to support Mark and his team and has concluded that is the case.
Whilst the stadium build has resulted in an uncompetitive playing budget, the board believes that more support could have been provided in the area of the football panel.
In response to this, the board have signed off more senior resource for the football panel to ensure full alignment and to add further expertise to our efforts to identify the best players on an ongoing basis.
What does “ensure full alignment” mean?
Again, I know it’s the club trying to deflect blame, but it’s a pretty damning mea culpa to make.
We have *plenty* of sycophants at the club – way too many – but even they know AFCW fucked up selling Ollie Palmer in the manner we did.
But with too many sub-standard loanees, and no obvious discernable plan over our signings this season, the decision makers are shouldering at least some of it.
Wonder what the “more senior resource” is, and whether it gets implemented now or in the close season?
Because we’re going nowhere but down unless we get in some chronically-needed genuine EFL experience.
All in all, it’s a statement that as AFCW admits at the end, won’t be universally popular.
I’m in no doubt it’s deflated a lot of our supporters, and for the club to say that “some members” will think differently is probably just as startling an admission.
At least it’s not arrogantly dismissing those as a tiny minority, which is what’s happened in the past.
And in Official Site speak, “some” means “a lot”…
I’m certainly in the camp where the club’s statement should have been thanking MR for his time with us, but the need to stay up means it’s best to part ways.
By acknowledging dissent though, I do wonder if the club has given him the eight games to save us from the drop, and save his job.
The “football panel” will exist with or without him regardless, and relegation may mean AFCW sacrifices Robbo just to get supporters back onside.
It makes an interesting backdrop to tomorrow against Cambridge, and I just wish the club didn’t feel it had to speak out to begin with.
I suppose it’s to clear away any distractions and issue a call for unity, at a club where there’s definitely some big splits.
While there are some tempting things about relegation, not least the kick up the arse some badly need, I’d still rather not go down.
And the bottom line is this : if we start winning some games again, we stay up and maybe – just maybe – we learn some lessons for once.
Of course, “if” is a very, very big word…