A nice way to return back to writing duties, I don’t think…
Yes, SW19 is back. Yes, I was going to Newport. And yes, I had hit the M4 by the time they decided to call it off.
Just what is it with Casnewydd and weather? I’ve ended up having to turn around on the motorway before with a called off game in south Wales.
Not to mention the 4-0 there in our Conference South promotion season, with some distinctly unAugust-like deluge in our collective faces.
And of course, not forgetting the joy of the video above. If you don’t know why, watch from the second half onwards, it’s not like you get our game to follow today…
Judging by the weather forecast, they could have done the pitch inspection last night and – in all likelyhood – would have come to the same conclusion as they did at 10h30 this morning.
There were some of our fans in Newport itself around lunchtime, and that’s not including those on the train who couldn’t exactly turn around.
At least we got about five hours warning. Salford got to Barrow just as they called that off…
We appear to be lucky insofar as we don’t have too many midweekers ahead for once, so I don’t doubt we’ll be playing this game before March.
We pre-sold over 400 tickets today, and we won’t get half of that for the rearranged fixture though.
Anyway, we’re going again Tuesday against Walsall. Well, at the moment we are – the weather doesn’t look like it’ll get any warmer until Wednesday.
All this gives us time to sort out a couple more transfers in, and to actually have some players available.
The big news right now is the player who hasn’t left yet, but is likely to be gone by the time we face Stockport.
When I was away, the AFCW lines were buzzing with news Assal is on his way to Qatar, and not for a family holiday either.
We have a release clause, apparently, and this being the Middle East they can reach it easiliy.
So, it’s the probable end of an era that we should be pleased to have had in the first place. And of all the players you would predict to go, he was the obvious choice.
For him, it’s a very good move and I can’t blame him one bit for having his head turned.
He’s young, he can always return to England (at a higher level than L2) if it doesn’t work out, and I think he would struggle a bit right now at another English club without some more experience.
For us, the most important thing is the money.
It’s the sad reality of life in L2 – especially at a club that is too dogmatic over funding for its own good – that as soon as an Assal hits the radar, he’ll be off within a year or two.
Given the history of both AFCW and WFC, developing then selling the youth is part of the club’s DNA.
It does come at a price though, probably more so than ever, because it’s arguable we can over-rely on that strategy.
Not only are you in danger of being caught short when there’s a lean spell (which there will be), but also if it comes at the expense of getting more experienced players in too.
As last year should have taught us, you do have to field a team with more than just promising youngsters. For every Assal, you also need a Davison.
For every Rudoni, you need a Pell. And for the likes of Biler and Currie, we also need a Gunter or a Pearce.
They cost money, and we have to be prepared to spend it – even if some think we should use it to focus on the debt.
Assal isn’t the only one off. A couple of days ago, Brentford recalled NYC, and to be honest I’m not as fussed as I would have been in October.
Why? Well, since he got injured and since returned, he looked a pale shadow of what he was turning into.
Him and Davison were striking up a good partnership, to the point where they were probably recommending hair care products to each other.
Seeing him at Slutton though, I was genuinely shocked at how out of sorts he was. And he wasn’t getting much better.
It’s a shame, but he’s not the first player who comes back worse after an injury. And he won’t be the last.
All this makes the need to add more players ever more important. JJ probably welcomes the postponement today, if his pre-game comments are an indication.
If nothing else, it gives him an extra afternoon to find a few coins down his sofa, to boost his transfer budget to £1.74.
Enough snark, even though it’s probably quite close to the truth. I’m trying to catch up who we’ve signed since my last game.
Ali Al-Hamadi and the fantastically named Armani Little joined when I was out of the country, and initial reports on them sounded promising.
We probably need one or two more anyway, regardless of whether we’re mentally writing off the playoffs or not.
I don’t think we should, by the way, especially if the decision makers gave pushing for them a priority for this campaign.
But with about eleven days left to make some signings, I just hope the club itself does give JJ a bit of help if he can successfully identify players.
He did turn around a side – and club – that could have very easily freefallen again this season.
And after all – there was no guarantee we would have avoided what Gillingham have done…