What I’m going to try and do here is not give you some massive hyperbole or fluff or be over-reactionary. What I’m going to attempt to do is give my opinion, straight up.
Firstly, I’m grateful to be able to do this, to get my opinion down on paper (not paper, but you know what I mean). Plenty of people don’t get this opportunity and if this resonates with you, great. If it doesn’t, great.
Myself and Ross have always tried to be balanced. We’ve tried to focus on the pitch successes/negatives this season. Indeed, we had an email earlier this month sent to us at The Tilehurst End giving, what I’d call, a reasonably balanced view on Dai Yongge. Now, that word “balance” is key and I’ll come back to it. As a result, for the first time this season on the pod, we decided to give real focus to the off-field issues.
Now it’s important to remind everyone reading this that I do not sit on any fan groups, except for TTE, which isn’t really a fan group as such. I’m not doing this to distance myself from those groups particularly, I’m doing it to remind you reading this that I’m just a fan who loves his team, like you.
Within that pod we again tried to give balance and, in some cases, the “benefit of the doubt”. Let me tell you very clearly that that doubt is now gone. It’s not the final straw for me; I haven’t turned into some angry lad demanding heads on platters. I’ve also not suddenly realised that Dai is “bad” for this club - I’ve known that for ages. Most of us have.
Whether he’s doing this on purpose is now irrelevant. He is continually costing us points that we’ve earned by winning and drawing games of association football. Effectively, his inability to do the basics is costing and has cost us league positions and success. That cannot be denied. The punishments handed down to us by the EFL, as a direct result of Dai’s errors, have cost this football club a total of 16 points (five wins and a draw, or 16 draws, or four wins and four draws….you get the idea).
In my role I work hard (or try to). I have to write policies which take time and actions plans which focus on a number of different threads. I do this because it’s my role and I’m paid to do it. It’s no different with football players, regardless of their inflated pay packets. They do the best they can (in most cases) to get games won or at least drawn. Our players, over the last few seasons, have seen these results wiped. I’d be pretty pissed off if, having done the best I can on a document, someone above me then deleted it without trace.
But ultimately, this isn’t about the players anymore. Not really. That old cliche about “it’s the fans that suffer the most” is true. A quick scroll through Twitter shows how much the fans are hurting, upset and genuinely bemused. F’ck it, even the staff are bemused by this.
I know that there are investors interested. How close these are to being realised, I have no idea. But it’s clear, given both the initial update on potential investment via the club statement in early August and also the reminder about said investment in Wednesday’s communication, it’s clear Dai knows we are into the end game.
As for the EFL, my opinion is that we are being made an example of. How long they let this farce continue is anyone’s guess, but my view is that the next time something (literally anything) isn’t paid on time, it may well be administration or worse us being expelled from the league (like Bury).
In terms of what happens next, I don’t have the answers. With regards to Saturday, it isn’t going to be a great vibe and football won’t be the focus. Ironically, despite the relatively indifferent start to the season, I have been looking forward to each game to spot improvements, processes etc. I can’t say I’m hugely buzzing for what will probably transpire against the Trotters now.
I still think this team can compete in this league and has the potential and excitement we’ve been craving, but it’s basically irrelevant if we keep getting points taken from us. There is a lot to be negative, frustrated, sad and pissed-off about right now.
Without being cheesy, I’m grateful for the fans of this club. Everyone will react in different ways and experience different emotions - that’s ok. But one thing that has cheered me up slightly is the comments people have been making, both sincere and flippant. Whatever happens in the coming weeks, we’ll have each other (again, not supposed to be cheesy) and we’ll hopefully face it together.
A new start is on the horizon, but how much of the club remains by the time it comes into view is open to speculation.
Look after yourselves and see you soon.