It’s almost like we’ve never been away after all.
Weary legs, even wearier minds. Profuse sweating five minutes after starting, far too many breaks too often, and an all-round inability to get going.
And that’s just SW19…
Anyway, with the return of this place – and the players at the training ground tomorrow – close season is finally over.
It’s now the weird purgatory called “pre season”, where it matters and doesn’t matter at the same time.
It’s not solely about fitness, and you can tell if we’ve got underlying issues (even if previous managers ignore it), but losing 1-0 to Woking isn’t usually the end of the world.
Those who stare too much at their calendars know it’s been seven weeks since we shat the bed one final time over Accrington.
Sometimes, it feels like we could do with another seven weeks ohne Wimbledon, and that’s been the case in recent years.
Yet I have to admit that I’m glad things are starting up again tomorrow.
I suppose I’m looking forward to the new season after all, as it can’t quite be as bad as 2021/22 turned out to be.
Your editor read a few of the things written on SW19 for the first game back at Plough Lane, and there were a couple of things I definitely regret writing.
It seems like I’m not the only one thinking that, which I’ll come onto later, but with a new manager, an experienced assistant and the axing of most of the on-field crap – you’re entitled to feel a little bit optimistic right now.
Just as you’re allowed to feel pissed off when it’s October and we’re shit after all.
So, with the squad returning tomorrow, let’s list all the new players we’ve got in since your editor went and came back from Albania/Slovenia:
- Alex Pearce.
Don’t think the queue to register new players tomorrow is going be that long, somehow.
On the surface it might look disconcerting that with pre-season training starting again, we’ve only got one new face in.
Then again, if you look around all the divisions (Premier League too), there’s not a flood of new signings either.
Some clubs are splashing the cash earlier than others, of course, but it’s still pretty quiet.
At this stage though, it doesn’t matter that much. The transfer window closes on the 1st September after all.
In our case, just one signing thus far might not be a bad thing either.
How so? Well, if JJ is focusing on more experienced players, they’re the ones who take longer to sign up.
Contracts are ending on the 1st July, there’s always agents trying to get the extra money for their latest Porsche, and now we’re back in L2 again we might have to wait further still.
Younger players are easier to snap up, and if we were after some we’d likely announced them by now.
To be honest, we’ve got enough of our own ones without piling more in. This isn’t AFCW under Mark Robinson.
As long as most of the new squad is in place by the time the first competitive game starts, that’s really all that matters.
We did snap up Woodyard for an extra two years while I was away, although I refuse to list him as being “just like a new signing”.
Until we formally sign some new players, our entertainment will have to come from the rumour mill.
The SLP has, as usual, been the best for AFCW related coverage, and clearly they’ve been talking to an agent or two.
I doubt if we’ll see either in a Hummel-branded AFCW shirt next season, if truth be told.
Jameson is likely to stay up north, and with our former striker** if he’s got more options elsewhere, he’s not that likely returning to where it wasn’t the happiest time for him.
I didn’t know he was 33 years old though.
** – and yes, usual SW19 comment applies about re-signing former players.
Regardless of likelyhood, at least we’re being linked to players who have actually played in the EFL for more than a week.
We may even get a couple of new signings announced in the next couple of days – we’ll no doubt get a few A Trialist types too.
Nobody else has officially left, although it sounds like NGW has refused a new deal. I’m sure we’ll cope.
The first PSF is three weeks away, and I note that we haven’t added any more to the ones we announced before the last SW19 update.
Four doesn’t seem enough, unless we’re going to have some behind-closed-doors ones against Plymouth or somebody.
While you can have too many PSFs (think Walter’s one and only time in charge at this stage of the season), I’m glad we’ve already arranged one more than what MR wanted.
And let’s face it – plenty will be heading down to Eastbourne because it’s nice to be back at it again.
We might even win the game. Stop laughing.
Perhaps the biggest news this past few days is what your editor hinted at above, about people looking forward to the new campaign.
That we’ve sold over 4000 season tickets already is very good to hear, what with the cost of living and the bad taste in the mouth from the last campaign.
And it might be one massive irony that we could feasibly sell more than the 4175 we had last season.
But should we be surprised? We’ve always been reasonably well supported, relatively speaking, and people don’t just walk away en masse at well-supported clubs.
Granted, if we’re finishing 16th in the next couple of years, our home attendances will drop – and we’re definitely not immune to that.
But even so, we have a woodworm support now. By that, I mean we’ll get plenty who will suddenly remember they follow us if we’re second from top.
On a bigger scale, look at how Sunderland were almost filling up the SoL once they were heading upwards.
Support doesn’t disappear overnight, if you have proper support to begin with.
Most importantly, there is a sense of renewal again, that we’ll actually win one game for the first time since 1973.
And when we do get that first victory, preferably at home on the 30th July, just imagine the post-game reaction.
Plough Lane might come into its own next season in a way it didn’t last time out.
I know bums on seats, hospitality and whatnot will help, but last year the on-field product was so bad it neutralised any home advantage.
I would even go so far as to suggest it badly tainted the homecoming season that should have been perfect.
Start getting it right on the field, and SW17 will start being a place that opposition teams will be wary of going to next season.
Think Oxford at Plough Lane last season, but throughout the year if we learn how not to crap ourselves weekly.
Sure, we mostly go to football to see our mates, have a drink and occasionally even see some decent stuff on the field.
But there’s an all-round desire to right the wrong of last season now. That we blew it and must now make amends.
People are (literally) buying into the notion that it’s going to be a helluva lot better next campaign, and they’d probably be correct.
Although what they’ll think if we finish 15th…