I dunno, maybe I’m the minority. I didn’t throw my toys out of the pram when the team news was published on Tuesday night. I didn’t really see the huge issue with playing one striker which is what we’ve done all season. I just saw it as another game where Pauno was trusting the players to do the job. And, honestly, how many times could we have said that over the last few years? Answer: not very many.
Again, perhaps I’m in the minority. I thought we were alright in the first half. Not amazing, but alright. I’m not sure where this perception game from pre-game of “well, we’ve got to beat bloody Wycombe because they are Wycombe and everyone else has”. Not sure if most people have realised but you I have to work in this league to beat teams and you need to convert chances in order to win games. Yeah, we didn’t do that in the first 45.
And then of course, they scored early in the second period. You could hear the knives sharpening/keyboards being primed/knuckles being cracked to slap some words into a smartphone to express outrage. Personally, had it been me on the touchline at that point, I probably would have gone and stuck some more attack-minded players on. We got a penalty - there’s always a 50:50 chance of that being scored (books have been written on the subject - I’ve read a few of them). We didn’t score it. Again, Pauno clearly trusted the players at that point to get something from the game.
But we didn’t and we lost and then Twitter in the Berkshire area caved in on itself like an unstable igloo. This is not me defending Pauno here, by the way. I think he should have changed things more quickly. But everyone reading this should know that once a team goes ahead in a game, like Wycombe did, it becomes more difficult to score against them and break down their shape.
It was a bad result in isolation, but it’s not “season over” time. Again, people reading this would have seen us play worse. Like, given up worse. As in not running worse. Last one that sticks in my mind is the Swansea game at the very end of last season (in July, no less). That was dreadful. Before that, probably Wigan at home where I saw no effort or desire or shape or quality at all (Feb 2020).
This team has given us more excitement, more honesty, more desire than most of the teams we’ve had put together in the last few seasons. That’s my view anyway. The reaction from some of the fans was a complete and utter joke. And I like options. I love them, actually, because it breeds discussion and ideas and challenges. But to suggest all of the players were crap and that they didn’t try and that the season is done is absurd.
We’ve all seen our team play when the season is over. Last year, we got lucky and had that privilege pretty early when we knew we weren’t going to relegated. But I don’t see that right now. I see some tired legs. I see the need to change it up a bit (not wholesale, just a bit). I see the need for a new 12-yard death-kick taker (sorry Lucas, but you need a break from those). And I see the need to celebrate the fact that we are three (maybe 3.5) times the team we were last year.
I know it’s been hard being away from the Berkshire Arena and I know we can’t vent or celebrate in person, but I was hoping and praying that the players and management weren’t able to see some of the nonsense spouted on Tuesday. Because if I was a player, I’d be telling some of our fanbase to shove it.
We’ve got some winnable games coming up. This group of players and management don’t need us telling them they need to do better in the next few weeks.
And let’s just remember that we are a million miles away from where we were this time last year, in every possible way.