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Cod Wars

Twelve hours driving for this?

I suppose if there’s anything to grasp from Fisherman’s Friend 2 Football’s Enemy 0, it’s that at least it’s still only August – and we do have time in the next couple of weeks to do something.

And right now, we’ve got to do exactly that, and quick.

Your editor was reliably informed that yesterday was better than the Shrewsbury game, though it was quickly followed up with the predictable qualifier. It was just one kick in the gonads rather than two, after all.

But what happened to the positivity after Scunny? Or indeed, Brentford? How has it become so shit in just two games? This was your editor’s first league game of the season, and one thing struck me about AFCW.

Something feels wrong

We’re so disjointed it’s untrue. The system, whatever it is, just doesn’t seem to work – the players can’t seem to settle into it, and I hate to bring out the PSFs again, but they’re looking more and more badly planned now the proper games are in full swing.

Writing that has given your editor a horrible thought. What if the players we signed were intended to fit into this new system which isn’t working? Which may mean if we try and change it, they may not fit into that either..?

Yeah, it’s only three games in, but the obvious problem still remains – and it’s not an elephant in the room any longer. Two goals in the last nine league games, isn’t it? I genuinely cannot be arsed to look it up properly, but it’s a stat that’s gone beyond annoying.

Something is fundamentally wrong with putting it into the net right now. Taylor, McDonald and Appiah are certainly not bad players, but this has gone on since last season, when it became a running joke.

Trouble is, it’s no longer funny.

We only have one striker still at the club from the Oldham game in April, and the impotency is still the same even after three months off. So whatever hasn’t changed is causing some of it. Plus, it hasn’t gone un-noticed that those who do leave don’t have trouble finding the net for their new clubs.

Maybe we could ask Nathan Elder to come in a couple of times a week to show our forwards how it’s done? He’ll be cheap, anyway.

A lot of that is down to confidence, of course, and yesterday we did have a few semi-half chances. If only Taylor hadn’t fallen over himself in the first half when swinging to put it in the net. Or if he put his second half shot a foot to the left. Or if only McDonald had aimed about eight inches below the crossbar.

And if only Francomb could fucking cross properly.

Actually, that’s something else that struck me yesterday. Our ball control at times is woeful, though it got even worse when we went 2-0 down. Yes, it’s L1 rather than the Champions League, and it was a bit gusty, but it was poor for even this level.

I’m no football coach, nor do I claim to be one (unlike some supporters 😉 ) but I refuse to accept a professional footballer cannot work on that. Maybe it’s mental, and the block up front has spread to the rest of the team?

Maybe one goal will set it all in motion? It might have done the trick yesterday, which I think might explain NA’s comments about taking the positives. To be fair to him, he didn’t say anything we didn’t know already, and I’m fully aware that – like all managers – what he says to the media is different to what he says in the dressing room.

He was seen having an, ahem, pointed discussion just after the half-time whistle with the rest of the management team by the dugout, though I’m told this is normal practice.

I can’t imagine he’ll be happy with the two goals conceded either, and if you can’t score at one end at least keep them out at the other, then you’re fucked. But he’s got a job on, and I think NA the pragmatist is called for again…

Plus points: Nice chips from the chippy outside the away end. Decent gravy, too.

Minus points: 3pm to 5pm. M25 closing between junctions 11 and 10 at 9pm, and with an accident to boot.

The referee’s a…: Can’t remember anything he did to annoy me, really. Perhaps giving five minutes injury time at the end was a bit cruel, given the circumstances.

Them: Got their first ever win against us, and proved the difference between taking your chances and not.

Were they significantly better than us? Not really, and you suspect we could have ground out a 0-0 (see below for why). Trouble is, once they went ahead they knew what they had to do.

That all said, I don’t mind Fleetwood. Yeah, they’re bankrolled, and I wonder what happens to them if/when the money dries up, but they’re not nearly as dislikable as Crawley are.

Some of their matchday suits were pointing our fans in the direction of their club bar, though perhaps they should have allowed them to remain in there during the game.

Also, they had an “amnesty bin” outside the away end, to put your knives/flares/guns/terrorist material/animal porn/Blackpool scarves in, no questions asked. Although I wonder whether they do DNA swabs when they empty it.

Not sure about two of their supporters flags up the home end, mind you. “Ultras de Cod” does sound a bit try-hard, but the one that got me was “One Way In, One Way Out”. Yes, I’ve watched Gangland as well – I know Fleetwood is a docks area, and they can be rougharse places, but still…

Point to ponder: Are we already seeing the first signs of the Season Too Far for both Robbo and Barry Fuller? Neither did themselves any favours for the two goals, and I suspect with Darius in there yesterday we might be talking about a well-earned point on the road.

To be fair to Fuller in particular, I seem to remember he started off slowly last season as well, but got into it more. But he got injured towards the end of the last campaign, and he didn’t seem quite so powering.

Robbo too might find his place under threat, especially as you can’t drop Deji at the moment. And if they do find themselves getting less gametime, I think both will know that they’ve played a major part in recent seasons.

Needless to say, that won’t help us in the upcoming games, especially if other teams suss out that we have weaknesses at the back. At least we have Nightingale as an option for the next game at CB, but Fuller?

We’ve talked almost ad nauseum about the blanks up front, but yet again we conceded a first half goal. And for the second time in a week, we failed to recover from it. George Long is probably the best AFCW era keeper already, but he’s let down by too much sloppyness in front of him.

Perhaps we should swap our defenders and attackers around? Might improve things…

Song sung blue: This occasional section bought out of the SW19 closet for one very good reason – as the Fleetwood keeper kept kicking the ball out of play, a new chant was born.

“Do Do Do, awful distribution”.

Sung to the “Conga” song that we used for Luis Cumbers (remember him?), it somehow makes the “you’re fucking shit” chant sound a bit, well, fucking shit. I beg the terraced elite masses to learn this one, and sing it whenever the opposition balls up, because it may turn out to be a classic.

Just don’t do it whenever we do likewise…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) “London Calling” by the Clash over the PA before the game. Almost mandatory to play this song at grounds within the M25 (except us), but in Lancashire? 2) They played this after they scored. Insert jokes here.

Anything else? Yeah. This Harry Forrester rumour won’t go away, and I would guess the Daily Record and Scottish Sun would be well briefed with goings on at Sevco.

Whether it’s true or not, and I guess we’ll have to wait and see, it also sounds like NA is looking to bring in a fourth striker. Which is not only good news, but also going to raise questions about the budget.

Are we really down to the £8.50 quip he made during the summer? Though given the club I would not be surprised to find out that is the exact figure. It might mean that if one/both join up, there’ll be another one on the “out” list.

Parrett? He’s not one of NA’s favourites, and Hartigan started in front of him (and Trotter too, although he has been injured). The trouble with that is some reckon we played better when he was on the field.

Taylor? I expect we won’t let him go unless we got a stonking offer for him, and right now you wouldn’t even offer a fiver for any of our forward line.

Anyone else I haven’t thought of right now? Possibly, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jim White getting excited on transfer deadline day with the happenings at KM. After all, there was a sense even during the summer that we might be waiting for a player or to lower their wage demands when the crunch comes…

So, was it worth it? Piss off.

In a nutshell: A better squad. But a better team?


  1. alexandra_don alexandra_don

    Sounds pretty much like a repetition of last week. So, nothing learnt?
    Not sure about the Harry Forrester deal – how will he fit in:

    A Reeves replacement who scores goals from midfield

    A Francombe replacement who can consistently put in telling crosses

    A Parrett replacement, who sits on the bench most of the time.

    He is not the answer to our biggest problem – scoring, or being a focus for others to play off and score.

    One thing for sure the current system does not work and needs to be changed in time for next Saturday.

    • Ben Ben

      Hi Alexandra,

      HF appears to be a good prospect based on the ratings. I do not mind him joining the team to bolster the midfield. Based on the past four games, the problem for the team is its ability to score goals. I foresee that this is due to the mindset of the players (the belief of winning games and scoring goals freely). I am not sure how the players will have to overcome such obstacles. I think that the “Never Say Die” attitude should be instilled in the mind of the players. Keep trying with the belief of scoring goals and winning games.


  2. Secret Agent Secret Agent

    Of all the signings made this summer by NA the Ines that I thought were a bit strange were Robbo getting another year and Callum coming back. Sure, NA wasn’t expecting Darius to get injured in training and be out for two months or for Meades to have a Kjetil Waehler type injury, but it seems that Barry is not at his best either, although he did start slowly as mentioned last season too.
    I’m not sure if the problem is worse up front or at the back. If we took as high a percentage of our chances as our opponents, we might have seven points now instead of a solitary one, so where is the work needed? Sure, we need a fourth striker as Antwi seems to not yet be ready to try out in a L1 game, so who will it be? And will it be a Kedwell impact type striker or a Barnett impact type striker? Obviously it depends on how much we have to spend, whether it is a loan, who is available and whether the player wants to come, but whoever it is will need to make a difference pretty much straight away as Donny are not afraid to score goals and we may need to get two of our own to get a point.
    NA will earn his corn if he can pull the Club out of this torpor which seems to be a hangover from last season in a number of ways and is looking so familiar.

  3. Stephen Ward Stephen Ward

    This malaise in the goal scoring department is a big problem. When we went behind yesterday I just thought that was it, game over. We’ve got to get scoring goals again somehow.

    Ardley wants to change the style yet we’ve been most successful under him with hoofball 101. Since he’s been manager we don’t get goals from midfield as the midfield as been all about defensive aggression. If Neal wants to change to a more fluid style, he’s going to have to do it slowly over a couple of seasons with some hoofball mixed in.

    In the short term we need goals & wins. We are in a bit of trouble but it’s still very early in the season. One signing could change everything.

    Also, Ardley must be ruthless if Fuller & Robbo are no longer good enough. There’s no room for sentiment in our position.

    • Ben Ben

      Hi Stephen,

      I totally agree with your view. NA must be brave to ditch Fuller and Robbo if they are not longer good enough for the first team. No offences to both players. The players must be good enough to warrant places in the first team squad.


  4. Paul V Paul V

    One Way In, One Way Out”. Is based on the town only has to its south as an exit, Sea to the West, Morecambe Bay to North and River Ribble to East. In fact just two roads out, so bad place to blag a bank.

    • Didn’t know that, although it does limit the ability of the locals to escape

  5. JP JP

    Michael smith was left out of the Pompey team photo…?666

    • Ben Ben

      HI JP,

      I opine that MS is a good prospect for the fourth striker. The problem is whether Pompey will release him. I am very much doubtful that the deal will go through. Furthermore, Pompey is in the same league as us. They will not want to allow him to join the club due to the competition interest.

      Apart from the above circumstance, I am not sure whether we have the fund to secure his services. Despite all these restrictions, I do not rule the possibility of such deal made through. Football is unpredictable.

      Let’s hope for positive news in the next few days. It will get more interesting come 31 Aug 2017.


      • Notts womble Notts womble

        We want Smith. Smith wants to join us. Pompey want rid of Smith. The problem is to do with how much money we are prepared to stump up for him at the moment.

        Not sure whether the Forrester move would kill a Smith deal anyway or whether we are trying for both.

        • Ben Ben

          In my opinion, I think that it will be fastastic to secure the services of both players. The problem is whether we have the fund to do so. This remains to be seen.


  6. Ben Ben


    I note that NA played 4-3-3 formation in the last four game. Could this be the reason why we were unable to secure the wins? I also understand that NA has ditched the long ball tactic in favour of the passing style of football. This could be one of the possible reasons why we are unable to win the games. We are now in the relegation zone after three games. It’s a saving grace that it’s still August and the manager can do something about it though I believe that the club does not have much quid left in the balance for tje manager to do some wheelings and dealings. The second L1 sympton appesrs to kick in at this juncture. I believe that this is a big test for the club to overcome the hurtles.

    No doubt, there will be call for NA sacking if the results do not improve in the next few games. One will wonder on the available replacement which the club can opt in place of NA. Furthermore, we are a small fan-owned club which is very unlikely to attract the managerial candidates of creditable calibre.

    My personal take is that we should stick with NA regardless of the outcome of this season. It will be fair to NA as he guided us into L1 last year.

    I personally feel that he will eventually guide the club out of the current woes.

    My two cents worth of opinion.


  7. Danny Danny

    From memory throughout Neals tenure we have been really inconsistent (Except for the run we had to the playoffs) It’s always been up and down. I trust Neal to turn this round as he has never let us down in the pAst.

    • Ben Ben

      Hi Danny,

      Well said. It’s true that the run in the lead-up to the playoffs is the only consistent form of results which secured the L1 promotion in 2016. That’s why the support for the club will be full of ups and downs due to the inconsistent run of the results over the last few years in the league football since 2011. I suppose that this is the type of feeling which we have to bear in the next few years. Hopefully, it will be joys of another promotion in the next couple of years’ time.


  8. Slow Train Slow Train

    We have 3 very good strikers but from what i’ve seen not enough creativity to supply them, rumours in the press suggest that problem is in hand.

    Second problem is injuries, we’re missing key players with Charles, Meades, Soares and Trotter all sidelined, when they return results will improve.

    Writing off systems or forecasting where we’ll finish 3 games in is foolish, particularly when we’re yet to field our first XI. Give it some time and our excellent summer transfer business will start to bear fruit.

    • JamPot JamPot

      I think this is the problem… they (up front) just get so limited service. If you put 10 crosses in a game instead of 2 then your chances improve. That was always the way from the CCL to now. The acid test as Repd said is conversion rate. At CCL we could accept 1 in 5 with 25 chances; in League 1 we need to convert 1 chance in 3

    • Ben Ben

      It’s true that NA is unable to field his strongest 11. It is premature to judge him after three games this season. Time will tell whether the team which he assembled this season, is able to prove that his decision is a correct one.

      The current situation is a stern test for his managerial ability to turn things around with the available players which he can use at his disposal. There is no excuse if he has failed to guide the team out of the current woes. NA will need to make his best possible selection based on the current circumstance and plot his strategy accordingly.


  9. Ben Ben

    In football, there are bound to be ups and downs. Managers are seldom given the time whenever the team undergoes a bad patch of results. This is seldom for the club. I think that the club’s approach in giving the manager time to develop and handle the squad is applausing. Such approach will reap dividend in the long run especially for the fan-owned club.

    We have been punching our weight above the budget and I think that this should be the way the club should be run. The current crisis is one of such circumstance in which I strongly believe that NA can overcome and the team will become stronger and resilient after this patch which started from the last season in which the team failed to score since the win in March.


  10. 2 banks of 4, keep in narrow. Big man and sniffer. One goal in 11, work that out over a season.

  11. Malman Malman

    Not beyond the realms…that we are sat bottom of the league still on 1 point on 9 September: 3 very tough fixtures on the bounce.

    No issue with Ardley trying to change our style, it was no longer working/getting the ball in the net for last 3 months of the season (the issue is, is he capable of doing it?)

    But playing 4-3-3 without any pace at full back? There are no wide midfielders to drop back/double up and too much is expected of the full back to get forward quickly to offer width.

    Constant worry that Ardley has sod all tactical nous and where the creativity should be coming from, Ardley likes his midfield bots to be highly conservative.

    Mcdonald and Taylor are 2 decent forwards (Appiah will never be fit/strong enough to press/play high octane as Ardley wants – odd signing) at this level but I am struggling to see how the team will feed them to get us out of our goal slump.

    Ardley will look a right tit if we go back to lumping it and a beanpole arrives next week. He may well lose the confidence of some of those he bought in with a mandate to play rather than boot it.

    I can’t put my finger on what is not right with the squad/set up but if we are going to”play” someone needs to tell Ardley he doesn’t have the personal to play 4-3-3 with a geriatric fullback next to a hoof ball fouling centre half (yep-harsh on both of them: they were superb for us, no doubt), a conference level fullback on the left deputising for a constantly injured player and having Taylor sodding about on the flank.

    If he wants to persist with it, he needs 4 players in the next 10 days but I’m sure we don’t have either the money or means of identification to do this.
    It’s 4/4/2, 4/5/1 or 4/1/4/1 with Abdou sat holding.

    This next 10 days may make/break our season and lets hope our recruitment isn’t another fucking trip down memory lane!!

  12. Slow Train Slow Train

    3-5-2 is another option with what we have. Means he’s got to bench the skipper but Deji & Will to support Robbo in a back 3 may help (until Darius is fit) with Francomb and Kennedy wing backs (removing Fuller and utilising Callums strengths). Abdou and Parrett in midfield with Hartigan (until Trotter or Soares are fit) and a front 2 from Kwessi, Cody and LTB.

  13. Malman Malman

    3-5-2 with this squad is possible Slow Train, no doubt. But as you know, the G’vnor is not very flexible.
    You can play football in this league and despite all my misgivings about Ardleys tactical nous and ability to process what is happening in game time and adjust accordingly, I do think he is right to come away from the permanent lump it routine. So perhaps I haven’t given him enough credit.

  14. Stephen Ward Stephen Ward

    He may be right Malman to move away from hoofball but he’s got to keep us in this league & do it at the right speed for the players we’ve got now which means mixing things up and changing gradually.

    Was thinking about this today, we really miss Elliott a lot and it’s been a blow to lose him. Also think we will improve a bit when Charles & Soares are fit & if we are signing Forrester then hope that’s another step in the right direction

    • Ben Ben

      It is inevitable that we lost Elliot in the summer. We simply has no financial means to increase his wage. Furthermore, we are unable to offer him Championship football.

      We have to look forward and make do with the shoestring budget. Make the best use of the budget and aim to punch our weight above the expected league finish.

      We are currently very low in confidence. It is such challenge which will make us stronger if we overcome it. I have full confidence that the team will pull through the crisis and emerge as a better contender.


  15. Slow Train Slow Train

    So it’s between us and the franchise for Harry.

    Home town club, knows their manager from his time in Scotland and I’m sure they can also afford better wages.

    All we can offer is the chance to play for a legitimate club who have earnt their league place, wonder which way he’ll go….

    • Malman Malman

      Stan, perhaps we should let the Yorkshire Wanker see if he can seal the deal, our all seeing football oracle who gets a free tracksuit and a free U16 ticket at York City. To quote the Yorkshire bot “Jesus wept”.

      Back on point, Forrester is an arshole and after last season, lets hope he goes to the Wankerdome.

  16. Slow Train Slow Train

    Ah yes that unfortunate combination of continually claiming to be a football person while consistently being wrong about pretty much everything.

    Could assess games better if his head wasn’t stuck up his arse.

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