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View From The Dolan: Nothing Left To Lose

Ben’s thoughts as defeat to Portsmouth pushes the Royals to the bottom of the table.

PA Images via Getty Images

There is nothing left to lose, as the Foo Fighters once said.

The focus leading up to the game, of course, was centred off the pitch, but I’m sure I can’t be the only one who hoped that it might trigger a reaction on the field from the abject and dismal display we saw on Tuesday. Would the passion from the crowd and the fight shown by thousands of supporters spur on the players?

You will have seen the photos and videos of the march by now, but it really was a decent turnout. For my part, I’d spent the morning visiting all the local pharmacies and chemists in search of medicated eye drops for my son who had had some weird allergic reaction to something. This meant I missed the bulk of the march, but did catch the end.

I drove to Smyths Toy Superstores, sprinted across the car park like a really fast runner, joined the march at the back at the bottom of the hill, marched up the hill (like the grand old Duke of York) towards the fan zone, then bolted down the other side of the hill past some very boisterous Pompey fans, got back in the car, drove out of the car park and back up the hill towards my parking space. And by that point, I needed a lager. I was sweaty and tired and flustered.

As I strolled towards the hotel, I checked the team news which revealed a 4-3-3. Did I think that was good? I thought it was better, but not perfect. No one expected us to win the game, so why not go for it? I guess, in Rubén’s head, he was doing that. After my lager, a crash of breath and a toilet break (I love the hotel toilets, I have to say), it was off to the seated bowl.

Almost immediately, it was clear the game would be a bit spicier than usual, with Pompey bringing a number of fans down for the top vs bottom clash. They were in good, sarcastic, gloating voice. Well done all, you should be proud.

We actually started OK. There was disruption in the shape of the tennis balls returning once again. The game was stopped twice, with the tannoy announcement, in my opinion, choosing the wrong words that even people in the Dolan were reacting to. Using the words “illegal” and “disrespectful” are, at best, slightly naive and at worst, counter-productive and inflammatory.

I get everyone is under immense pressure but the wording is key in these situations and I don’t think it helped. The game was even threatened with abandonment at one point, which again was completely OTT.

It didn’t seem to affect the players on the pitch at that point with Lewis Wing and then Charlie Savage knocking two goals in. Club 1871 resembled that scene in World War Z where the zombies are clambering over the wall. Replace the wall with blue netting and you get an idea of the reaction to going ahead at this point.

Like many others though, I couldn’t enjoy it or get excited: you just knew we’d get zero points from the game. The visitors responded with a fine goal and then a second which, quite honestly, was a result of appalling defending. Bishop was left alone inside the six-yard box like a child lost in Tesco to tap in the equaliser. Portsmouth fans sprung up all around the ground and sent the stewards into overtime to remove them from home areas of the stands. Nightmare scenario.

I popped down to the concourse at half-time to grab a lager. I do have to say the service, particularly at the tills by B13, B14 and B15 is much better now than in recent times: quick, organised, smiley people. Nice job.

We all know what happened in the second half. We know that we basically chucked the game away from being 2-0 up. We know that we are now bottom of the table. We know that we are eight points from safety. And we know that we’ve lost 10 (ten) games out of the last 14.

As the game wore on, you could see the enthusiasm that was once prevalent in so many of our loyal fans evaporate into anxiety, despair and fear. We have literally reached the bottom now, in league positions anyway. This is currently the lowest we can physically go this season. So two questions remain:

1. Can we get out of the relegation zone and stay up?

2. Are we likely to receive any more points deductions and/or slip into administration?

I guess with admin, we’d know we were relegated and therefore it might take the shackles off a bit. In real terms, it wouldn’t matter by then who was playing, what formation we had and who was in the dugout. We could just crack on with getting a team ready for League Two. That said, it’s still administration, right?! You know, given the choice, you’d rather support a team that wasn’t in danger of this rubber stamp of approval of horrendous mismanagement off the field.

Either way, in our current form and without any more deductions, we aren’t staying up. The players are shot of confidence, the fans are miserable and no one seems to be able to steer this ship away from the rocks, despite the lighthouse blinking away.

As I said at the start, there is nothing left to lose. We are currently at the bottom, at least for this season anyway.

Until next time.