Speechless. Utterly speechless. It’s a bad way to start writing a piece that’s usually about a thousand words long and it’s a struggle to put into words what this game encapsulated. There are so many adjectives that could be used: Poor, sloppy, crushed, exasperated, pressured, empty, clueless; the list could just go on and on in honesty.
But we started ever so well. For a quarter of the game we looked to be in complete control, in as much as we had scored twice and Sam Smith could have put a third away to kill the game off, but we’ve heard that one before, haven’t we? It wasn’t control in the sense that we dominated possession and looked like Brazil; we just scored twice and looked capable of scoring more.
Then Harvey Knibbs has his “Baba Rahman moment” and does something that only he could explain and the game starts to slip away. Not immediately, but the slow slide into tragedy was sure to happen and it did.
As often has been said in these articles, the problem is much more mental than it is with the feet. When faced with a match-winning situation, away from home especially, their fortitude is akin to a wet paper bag. Pour enough onto it and the opposition will find a way through. The pathway to defeat is laid clear, like a lighthouse in the distance. The opposition just need to follow the path, the goals will come and sure enough, they do, time after time.
The cumulative effect of the horrendous ownership of the club continues to haunt the team and this result, yet another capitulation in the dying embers of the game, could stamp “relegated” onto their curricula vitae. Currently, there’s nothing to suggest the outcome will be anything other than League Two football next season.
Everything we desire to see from our football club is missing, but it all stems from the mismanagement from above. This is the fruit of Dai’s gambling obsession and greed. It could never be anything but a disaster. Rock bottom could still be yet to come, bewilderingly.
To repeat myself for what seems to be the billionth time, the on-field decision making is poor, the lack of composure and calmness is just devoid. We never seem to be able to actively control a situation and make it look like there’s been some training involved that made it happen.
It’s all too rushed and immediate, like watching under-8s follow the ball instinctively like it’s a Golden Snitch, then, when the ball is in view, it bounces around like a balloon at a birthday party. Nobody can get hold of it, tame it, just keep the damn thing away from our goal!
But, like a never-ending nightmare, we keep giving it away, keep giving away set-pieces, keep losing men in the box, keep leaking goals habitually at the end of games. There’s so little responsibility or control. Nobody is capable of taking a breath and taking the sting out of the game.
Of course, none of this is helped by a manager who does not learn from his mistakes. By the 60th minute, Jeriel Dorsett was done. Which is fine, he’s stepping up to the first team, we can allow him some adjustment time, begrudingly. What we then shouldn’t do is to change two positions when one would do.
Selles brings on Harlee Dean and moves Nelson Abbey into left-back. WHY?! Just bring on Nesta Guinness-Walker and be done with it! As such, Harlee Dean slows down the entire back line (where Nelson Abbey had previously been great in his recoveries and alleviating pressure). In a situation where we need to retain some sort of composure and shape, half the defence is changed and confusion reigns again.
It’s this kind of action from the manager that heaps pressure on the players every time. They’re not capable of holding it together at the best of times, so why make it harder for them by complicating matters?
And all of this is against a side that had previously only scored seven goals this season. Shrewsbury were there for the taking: they are not a good side in this division, nowhere near the likes of Portsmouth, but the result remained the same. Another 3-2 loss.
At the final whistle, Selles had a case of the thousand-yard stare, just looking into the distance, trying to take in what had just happened (again). He looked like a beaten man that’s out of his depth and drowning.
Mentally, the players, the manager and the whole club itself is on its knees and fighting for survival. There’s too much noise, too much distraction, too much uncertainty. This is all the culmination of the six years of shocking decision making and rudderless ownership. We don’t deserve this, no team should.
All we can hope for is that soon this mismanaged mess will soon be over. Another couple of months and a new beginning can arrive. Something needs to stabilise and crystalise this club, otherwise we’re going to experience more of this nonsense interminably.
We’ve often said that we’ve hit rock bottom but the truth is that we’ve still got a way to go yet. Relegation is a very likely prospect unless some sort of divine magic happens (and we catch that Golden Snitch) and get things under control again. It can’t come a minute too soon.
Right now, we’re in freefall, unable to get a grip or able to do anything that will arrest our descent into another division. It doesn’t feel real, but reality is a horrible place to be.
Change always leads to further change. We just need a change that benefits us instead of punishing us for once. Only new ownership and new management (in every sense of the word) can pour concrete into the foundations that are currently sitting in quicksand. Us fans are mentally drained of watching their team dissolve into dust game after game.
This can’t go on for much longer. Can it. Can it?