Ranting and raving post Fleetwood Town’s visit to the County Ground? Brendan Hobbs has a few words…
First off, this piece has been hastily written, therefore a warning needs to be issued as some poorly thought out theories lurk in the next few paragraphs. Contradictory points of view will be discovered roaming every stanza whilst some tired comparisons will litter this car crash of an article.
It was written on a seething high of boiling anger, acute frustration and general malaise at pretty much everything. I have no doubt then, like a disappointing drunken sexual encounter, I will probably look back at this in a few weeks with feelings of embarrassment and total shame.
The culprit responsible for my anger was Swindon 1 – 1 Fleetwood, a game that could’ve easily finished Swindon 1 – 4 Fleetwood such was our piss-poor defensive display.
The catalyst, the zenith if you will, was reached after watching the nth ball fly over our poorly positioned central defender, causing the remaining two to scramble around like lunatics to cover the immediate goal-bound threat And something inside me just snapped. I wasn’t even aware of this ‘thing’ until that moment, but it was deep inside me and it broke, spectacularly.
The problem I’m left with though, is that I don’t know who to direct my anger at. I mean, there are so many ‘anti’ brigades and factions to choose from these days. There’s the Anti-Power, the Anti-Williams, the Anti-Piss-Around-At-The-Back, Anti-Short-Corners, and the Anti-Rodgers-Society. And let’s not forget the ‘pro’ lobby groups, the Pro-Get-It-Forward, the Pro-Lump-It-In-The-Box, there is so much choice these days.
Opinions vary so wildly, so there will always be one group that will be massively offended by my choice. Although I definitely won’t be joining the Fans-Getting-Furious-With-Fans-Getting-Furious group. This is a growing movement though, with every passing game, more fans are getting into heated slanging matches with other fans who dare to show any displeasure at the total dog-shit they’ve just paid to watch.
Therefore, I’ve given the matter some serious thought (well, about twenty-five minutes) in an effort to understand my frustrations. I’ve resurfaced with some theories, and I suppose the root to all my issues, is the squad that we have. I tweeted after the Scunny game that we should expect a few hammerings as we have a paper-thin squad, the majority of which is made up of inexperienced first year pro’s.
These inexperienced players have had to learn on the job, not via fleeting half-hour cameos to build experience and confidence, but through a full ninety minutes, game after game.
Some have shown great ability to cope with this. Brad Barry has come on leaps and bounds but still shows some naivety and makes the wrong choice from time to time, but he is improving.
He was one of many brought into the club, with one eye on the future, to grow into a first-teamer rather than to be thrust into week-in, week-out action. But due to a bizarre summer purchasing strategy, he was the only right back at the club (and still is) so he needs to play.
I was never a member of the Players-Aren’t-Good-Enough-To-Play-This-Type-Of-Football group either, but I’m thinking of applying to receive their promotional pack and manifesto. The sight of Branco or whoever, delivering a panicking pass out of defence to a panicking Town player who has eighteen opposition players bearing down on him like a pack of rabid war boys on a certain escaping war rig is amazing to watch. And this doesn’t just happen once, it happens time and time again. It did against Fleetwood – with various players, pricking about at the back, delivering short, hard passes to a guy two feet away. You simply end up just thinking ‘Why?’
I’m definitely a member of the Playing-The-Ball-Out-From-The-Back crew, but at the right time – something our players seem incapable of understanding. I know there is this whole ‘risk and reward’ thing going on, Christ, Cooper used to mention it in every interview, but I hate to break it to the hipsters, Power and Williams, on watching the Classico last night, it appears that Barcelona hit it long on occasion and also, dare I say it, toss it in the mixer, something we seem unwilling to do at any point.
In fact, one bright point on Saturday came from an aimless punt from Belford, the Fleetwood defence were put under pressure for the first time, allowing Hylton in on goal. It was the most we had created in twenty minutes.
It was so out of place, it was a shock. I’m not saying that hitting it long is the way forward, but occasionally, instead of aimlessly dicking about at the back with no options, why not go long with purpose? Our reticence to do it is borderline madness – I once saw a documentary about a girl who couldn’t reach orgasm because she was convinced it would kill her, so she always illogically stopped short. Now not drawing parallels here, but.
After conceding at least three at Scunthorpe via messing about at the back, and almost shipping another three on Saturday you would think the penny would drop. It seems not.
I have been a season ticket holder since 1981 and some of our recent defensive displays have been the most frustrating I’ve ever seen. Although I’m not sure ‘frustrating’ is the right word, I think the word ‘comical’ might actually be better. Farcical, absurd, ridiculous even.
I’m still a fully paid-up member of the Williams fan club and his style of football, but maybe we need to rethink our defence somewhat. Turnball is a shadow of the player he was last year, Branco is still the player he was last year, but now is a first-team regular, so gets a lot more game time to showcase his defensive ability, which is patchy as best.
Unpopular opinion I know, which is so odd considering his hit and miss performances, dodgy defensive positioning, getting caught under the ball often and his lack of pace being constantly found out. We kept quite a few clean sheets when he wasn’t in the team, back in, ten goals in two games.
Perhaps this is a lesson to all those massively underperforming at work, if you’re one such person, simply bash your heart with your fist several times, then wave your arms up and down in an effort to inspire your colleagues, then submit your work very late and in some sort of ugly, last ditch way.
Because this sort of behaviour wins you admirers it seems. Harsh maybe, but it typifies my frustrations because I’m also convinced there is a really good player in there somewhere!
In his post-match interview, Williams said that the defence should take confidence from their performance. I take it he meant the fact that they only shipped one (instead of the four they should’ve conceded) and that this is good thing.
I simply don’t agree with that opinion and I’m sure he only meant it in a way to support his beleaguered troops. But I’m not bound by such a code, so if anything I think their performance should leave them with even less confidence.
If you are a high wire walker and you keep falling off, but at the last minute manage to grip the wire and haul yourself upright – you can be relieved. Great, you’ve avoided certain death on numerous occasions, but maybe you’re just not very good at high wire walking?
So, with that poor analogy, this draws this muddled, scathing article to a close. We move steadily towards the end of the season and look to begin the next, I’m already a member of the 2016/17 Season Ticket party, so I can hopefully look forward to some smart summer recruitment, maybe a local derby or two and some exciting football. If not, I’ll be breaking out my angry pen again.
I think this is a brilliant summary of what turned out to be a very entertaining game – albeit for many of the wrong reasons. I too am part of the Pro Williams Brigade but, with some of our poor decision making, we really don’t help ourselves at times.
Amazingly, Fleetwood could have ended up with no points if Louis hadn’t hit the woodwork. In any event, a rather fortunate point gained that helps explain Fleetwood’s current predicament, ironically, with Vardy grabbing the headlines. I think that Williams has been extremely candid about the why’s and wherefores. The fringe players haven’t replaced the injured. A change in goalkeeper, whoever it is, is going to unsettle the defence. Thompson’s rash red card has meant that the individual that can paper over some of the defensive cracks is not available. Worst of all, without Obika, there is no physical presence up front that can consistently provide an outlet. With Smith at Portsmouth, there is no replacement for Obika. Andy King would have put Branco in the opponent’s box and then would have directed firing “mortars” in his general direction from all angles. In the circumstances, the midfield has to dominate to control the game while avoiding box-to-box ping pong a la Fleetwood second half. I expect Traore and Landoloa to start at Oldham,. Louis doesn’t look 100% fit. A point there might be a bridge to far, but a positive might be a midfield, as it should, that keeps the pressure off a nervous defence.