Right, lets have a bit of blog update. It’s been a little while, I’ve written before about the frustration of not being able to write regularly – it seems at Christmas I had plenty of excuses not to write, visiting family, rushing to buy or receive presents, general laziness… all that guff. I suppose the overwhelming reason would have been sitting down in front of the laptop and thinking ‘Oh god, this feels too much like actual work…’. The Dons form of late has been dire, so in the same way I don’t really want to sit down and write emails to people telling them how to fix their showers, neither do I want to dissect the Dons defensive failings over and over again – the difference being I get paid for the former, why should I subject myself to the latter in what is supposed to be my leisure time
It’s a little ironic, as for the last nine years I found myself yearning for the days when victories were celebrated rather than expected. The Anonymous Don was born amidst a blip in our BSS promotion year and my desire to have my say… I’ve waited years for an actual crisis to come along, and a twelve game winless streak probably counts. Is this an actual bona fide crisis though? In terms of averages, your typical Football League club probably suffers a double digit winless run every five years or so, we’ve struck it lucky in a way that not only did we have a great start, keeping our head above water, but as veterans of the last such run of form (the one that ended in relegation…) will attest, at least this one is from October to January, not February to May – giving us time to remedy the slump. The only problem is our form hasn’t yet turned… I mention it lasting from October to January, but there’s no guarantee we will pick up a win before the month is out. When will it come? February? March???
The fact remains, despite what has happened of late, we still don’t find ourselves in a relegation fight (yet). Putting our neutral hats on and looking at the table, seventeenth place and eight points clear of the drop zone looks pretty comfortable… in fact its pretty much where I and probably most of you thought we would be at this stage. We have time to address the situation, a side that needs to remember how to win and certainly knows where the goal is should turn things around soon. You look at how predictable we’ve been of late, wonder where the change is going to come from, then remember how the pace of Jolley and Djilali so terrified defences in this division – getting those two back on a regular basis might be enough on its own. Considering those two, and the introduction to the line up of the impressive looking Mat Mitchel-King (quite literally like having a new signing…), we aren’t going to be in trouble this season, surely?
Yet looking at things in a positive light only works if you don’t simultaneously have your head stuck in the sand. We have real and immediate problems that we cannot wait until the summer to resolve. Terry Brown has admirably stuck by those players who won us promotion last term, probably fully aware that one or two might not make the grade at this level but willing to give them a chance to prove themselves. The problem is you look all over the field and find players struggling… supporters not normally known for doom-mongering are looking around and wondering where the leadership is going to come from, who is going to stand up and say ‘this run ends now’. In short people are panicking because there is reason to panic – the prize we fought so hard for in May could easily still be surrendered tamely between now and the end of the season.
We’ve probably overused phrases along the lines of ‘This is the most important x months in our history’ during the last nine years but there’s no point in denying this transfer window is massive for the club. Brown is aware he needs to bring in experienced reinforcements, and if there’s one area of management that I even mildly doubt TB it’s his mid-season acquisitions – especially in the all important loan market.
We should be encouraged that Brown is not prepared to sit around and watch us slide into trouble without putting up a fight, his previous comments relating to new arrivals reinforced yesterday by the news not only are signings expected next week, he has already named the five players who could leave the club to make room for them.
Of the five I think the only shocker is James Mulley. His injury in pre-season didn’t help, neither did inconsistent performances when he did get game time, but to be fair he has been shuffled around a bit and played out of position. The problem was Mulley was originally brought to the club as he was something of a utility man… Brown cannot justify keeping him on knowing he’s only really effective at this level in certain midfield roles, especially if he is planning on bringing in someone who can. Still Mulley remains a personal favourite of mine, he never stopped trying – still nipping around the pitch in injury time when we’re getting stuffed, trying to make something happen and at least take something from the game.
I’m also a little disappointed Charlie Ademeno is on his way, but his fitness issues were always going to be an issue… presumably Brown has his eye on someone who will hold the ball up and take the pressure off Midson. Mishull and Porter always put a great deal of effort in but were hugely inconsistent. I’m not sure we’ve seen the best of Porter, and Minshull always had the air of a particularly talented Ryman midfielder who had somehow risen above his level but found his fitness and technical ability wasn’t quite up to scratch. Ryan Jackson has the pace to hurt League Two defences but lacks the end product vital at this level.
Which leaves us eagerly awaiting news of replacements next week. We can count ourselves very lucky we have a free weekend to sort ourselves out. With three games away from home I don’t think many rational supporters will expect overnight miracles, but a couple of points here and there will go a long way to settling the nerves.