Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Humble pie eaten - the Mighty vs Wigan Athletic

I'm dragging my feet. I'm just not feeling this. I've not seen a goal in anger since forever and the football has been like a lead weight. It's an obligation. It shouldn't feel like that. 

The radio tells me that there's a couple of changes but that CJ and Callum Connolly continue in their respective roles. I tell no one (I'm on my own in the car) to fuck off. My mind wanders. I imagine Critchley over complicating normal life like he seems to over complicate picking wing backs. 

N: "This breakfast will be a masterclass Janine. An elite breakfast... I've been thinking of new ways to cook traditional favourites" 
J: "Have you put the egg in the toaster and the bread in the kettle again Neil? That didn't work last time and it's not going to work this time. Cut it out. Just stop doing innovations for the sake of it and cook breakfast like a normal person." 
N: (under his breath) "Mike never talks to me like this... " 
J: "What was that?" 
N: "Nothing" 

I'm a bit late, so when I get there I buy and neck a pint I don't really have time for. I need to stiffen my resolve to survive another 90 minutes of death by coaching manual. I've decided on balance, after careful deliberation, we're not very good. I know, because I'm a self appointed expert with a blog. I have declared my dissatisfaction. Critchley might have worked his entire life in football, but I've got 311 posts on a shit blog. Therefore it is I, not him, who is the real football genius out of us two. 


It's the strangest of things. As soon as I'm up the stairs and into my row, everything changes. There's a sea of Wigan fans and an ocean of tangerine. There's a pitch of lush green and players streaming out of the tunnel. There's the noise, lifting me out of the doldrums and pitching me forward onto a wave of sound. The bluest of skies a backdrop to the steep rake of the North Stand. The air is warm and pulses with an expectation I didn't feel until moments before.

This is more like it. 

What's not more like it is the moment it looks very much like we concede an early penalty. The referee isn't having it though. It's at the other end, so I've no idea if it's just my nerves reading the worst into a moment or it actually was a lucky escape. Whatever, it was or wasn't, we'll take it because we've not been exactly overrun with luck of late. 

On the topic of running, Jensen Weir is striding forward. He slides it out wide to CJ. CJ pushes it out of his feet and then he's into overdrive, his body strangely still and his legs going at impossible speeds, he's cutting inside, go on CJ, he's glancing up, c'mon CJ he's going to skew it or put it behind everyone, I know he is, but he hasn't that's a good ball and FUCKING YESSSS! YES!!! THAT'S A FUCKING GOAL!!!! YES!!! CJ!!!! YES!!! 

Rhodes applies the most gloriously deft of finishes, darting into space and glancing it perfectly home, changing the angle of the ball in a lethal manner, falling away to clip it just perfectly. The ball fairly kisses the net, spins and drops to rest. As it nestles in the goal it looks beautiful. That was an absolutely gorgeous moment. Maybe Rhodes isn't old and slow and pointless after all. Maybe, just maybe, I'm wrong sometimes. Maybe CJ can do this role. Maybe this is one of those times when Critchley gives something long enough to work, where other people would have binned it off because people moaned about it. 

We've been prone in the last year to good starts that fade. This was a really good start, but early goals always first settle the nerves, but then make you nervous if you don't add to them. Don't sit back Pool. For fucks sake, don't sit back... 

We don't. Weir who is really bright in the first half has a shot that rises and draws a nice save. Weir sets up Rhodes from wide, but he cant quite control his header. Jimmy Husband nearly scores an immense and truly random goal as he fizzes an exquisite cross that dips, spins and curls so much that it almost goes in. Callum Connolly stuns in a clever little swerving free kick that both nearly gets a touch from Morgan and goes in of it's own right. 

We're dogged, we're fighting for everything. Beesley is winning stuff. Norburn is looking twice, maybe thrice the player he did last week - he's getting higher and cutting off their moves. We're pressing and we're out from the back quickly. Pennington is fantastic. I missed his debut and Wolves was a bit of a general mess so it was impossible to tell if he's shit or not but today, the answer is absolutely not. His use of the ball is tremendous and it's the way him, Casey and Husband can all play and play quickly that starts us off in a totally different tempo than we've played before. 

Wigan aren't very good this half. When they get the ball, they quite often kick it out of play. They look flustered by us. They keep chucking themselves on the ground. They pull our shirts. The ref isn't especially observant. In fact, he's really bad but we're we've scored a goal and we're winning so it's all pretty enjoyable, even the berating of the ropy officials. 


That was good. I've no complaints at all. More please. 


We have been known to reappear after half time and not be the same side. If anything though, today, we come out even better, at least at first. CJ who is having the best game he's had in what seems like forever is marauding is being serenaded by the whole ground. Be honest, did you have 'CJ's name ringing round the whole ground in celebration of the fact he's in unplayable form' on your Blackpool vs Wigan bingo card? I didn't. 

There's shot from Morgan that's well saved. There's a run and a cut inside by CJ that ends with a shot that is also well saved. Everyone wanted that to go in so much. He'd have deserved it. There's Rhodes, throwing himself at stuff that comes across the box, or lashing a shot from all angles like he's a young kid trying to make his name and not some knackered old pro whose already proved everything twice over. 

I'm really enjoying this. It's so, so, so much better. All I want is a team that has a go and we're having a go. Gone is the hesitant, cautious, over complex football and here is confident, aggressive football that looks, well, fun, to play and therefore is great to watch. Ok, we're not Puskas' Real Madrid, but it's all relative and anyway, white is a shit kit compared to tangerine so Real can fuck off. Boring Club. 

The minutes tick on though and we've not added a second. Things go a bit quiet. Wigan start to knock it about and stop making silly mistakes. Perhaps our intensity drops a little bit and they've got the time to play. 

It feels like we need to do something to regain our dominance. I don't know what, but I start to get itchy for something to change things. 

Wigan assert more control. They start to load the pitch up with attacking players. I think of the away game last year where things fell apart after a good performance. They just put more and more players on until eventually the weight of numbers forced the ball home. They overload us, there attackers are good when they get the chance. They switch the ball quickly with purpose, they move at pace... they're switching and the ball is eluding us and it's suddenly a clear site of goal and there's Grimmy, flinging himself, his guesswork and reflexes perfect. He's very good at doing nothing, but then coming to life. 

The ground are singing Grimmy's name. He gives a little thumbs up. He tips another one over the bar. He wellies his kicks right up into the blue sky. He flexes his gloves and hitches his shorts. He prowls, he watches. Nothing for show. He's too sleepy to ever bother showing off. I love Grimmy. I wonder if he's my favourite ever keeper. 

Virtue is on. It's the right sub. He's physical and helps us move the ball away. He makes the right choices and the new protein powder powered Matty Virtue (the body of Madine and the game of Phil Clarkson) doesn't get pushed off the ball as easily as the old, nice lad from next door Matty Virtue. 

Dougall comes on. I'm really not sure about Dougall any more. It feels as if he might have been permanently spoiled by the recent past. I can't really see the point in him these days. He's got more steel and thus suits the moment more than the fading Morgan (who did well, but is now looking a little spooked by Wigan's physical and footballing revival) 

We're stuggling to get out. We're under pressure. I'm starting to really feel this now. I kind of enjoyed the Wolves game because it was so obvious, so quickly that there was no point in feeling anything towards the game. It's nice sometimes to actually watch the game as opposed to care about the game. This is making me feel sick. Pennington does some ridiculously skillfull defending, levering a Wigan player out from under the bar and then, sensationally getting to the ball. He does some more, a ridiculous deft touch, that not only kills the danger but sets us away. I could get used to having a set of defenders that could actually function as a rudimentary set of midfielders. 

Owen Dale, he of mysterious abilities comes on. No one actually knows if he's really any good. I don't think Critch even knows. Possibly Dale himself has no idea. We're really sitting back now. Either that or we're forced back. Wigan's tricky no 11 runs right across our goal. At some point (possibly earlier,) Hubby makes the most sensational diving block that's as good as a top save by a top keeper. If it was literally anyone else, we'd sing his name. Why we don't is even more mysterious than the matter of Owen Dale's actual talent level. 

The time ticks. Wigan have it on the right. Dale is drifting across like it's an afterthought. There's a little exchange of passes. Dale observes the play without getting involved. There's a cross, it's deep and it's eluding everyone and there's two Wigan players and one of them is going to get it and Grimmy is nowhere and for fucks sake Blackpool, for fucks sake, why are you such a fucking drain on my life and my energy because the fucking ball is in the fucking net and we're not coming back from this and Wigan are on the pitch and one lad is running right across the pitch and I'm not even in the mood for this in the slightest because I was enjoying this and now look at fucking state of it. Why can't we just win for once? 

A long delay. Kick off. What's the point though? Fuck off. 

The point is Jordan Rhodes is a complete revelation. Despite being obviously knackered he's still going and this time he's provider. First there's a glorious ball on the turn, that is perfectly spun, it's like a gloriously weighted crown green bowling ball using the camber of the green to curve into position. Dale is away, the ball is in and... no, not quite. 

Rhodes again. A flick with his head. It's perfect again. Dale again, taking it, running, seeing the right ball and playing, Virtue is charging on as he likes to do, he's meeting that ball from Dale, he's looking up, he's fired it across and OH. I can't breathe. There's a little moment where I can't believe either. I'd forgotten football feels like this sometimes. It must be a split second but it's a moment where time is frozen and then I'm screaming my self hoarse and the white, white, white noise is like the roar of so many oceans all at once and I'm clenching my fists and roaring incoherent delight in a way that nothing else in life would ever let me do. I could actually cry. There's a moment. A breath and another clenched fist, punching wildly. Grimmy is knee sliding, celebrating in front of the Wigan fans. If Grimmy's awake and roaring, this must be a moment. Fucking hell. Fucking hell. Fucking hell. That was good. 

Who scored? I haven't a clue. 

Kenny Dougall! I told you he was important to us. Class player. Never said anything to the contrary. 

There's time to bait the Wigan fans. There's too much time to beg the ref to stop. There's some headers. There's some wild hopeful balls forward. There's time for us to attack again. There's time for the horror of what seems like it might be a break and there's time for it to break down. There's so much time... 

Then there isn't and the whistle is there and the game is done. 

Ole Ole, CJ CJ! God love you CJ. You deserve that. For putting up with us fucking knobheads. I love us again. I'm sorry I doubted. 


Lets not get carried away. It wasn't perfect. But fuck that, lets enjoy it like it was, because, in comparison to so many games in the last however long, it was just about perfect. To win a game you thought you'd thrown away is magic. For a team to turn up and play with everything you thought they didn't have about them is magic. No one played badly, everyone contributed. Rhodes was a joy to watch, kind of like Gary and Jerry combined into one super striker. I was really surprised by how good his all round game is and by the level of running and desire he had. CJ was genuinely tremendous. The ball zipped about much quicker and we got back to front frequently and quickly. 

Wigan were decent when they got going. They had some very impressive players. We were the better team. We deserved the win. 

What more is there to say? We could bang on about this, that or the other, but one thing I hate is know it all blogger cunts that think they understand shit about football when actually, it's just a load of hot air. 



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The curious case of Rob Apter (What are we? )

Last night I joked with someone that 'we'd probably let Apter go out on loan just to piss me off' Lol. Banter. What are we like eh? 

Then we actually did that.

I'm still fuming about it. It might seem a bit weird to pick a kid who hasn't actually done anything yet to lose your shit over, but I've thought it through and I'm still hopping mad. 

Apter is literally the embodiment of the vision we stated we had when Sadler took the club over. I've seen 4 games this year and we haven't scored any goals. (It was my luck to be on holiday for the week we scored 5) We've looked timid, cautious, lacking in technique in certain positions when receiving and moving with the ball and we've also played games where we've been crying out for a different threat to break down teams late in the game.

We can rage back and forth about notions of 'ambition' and that can get very binary and very murky and everyone falls out but risking a player like Apter costs us absolutely nothing. It's a free hit. He doesn't even count towards the squad numbers. Pretty much everyone wants to see him have a go. I wasn't the only one who waited to see him come on when we were 5-0 down and it was late and I had a 3 hour drive home and had to get up at 6 in the morning. That's a sign that the fan base rate him. Football fans can be unreasonable but they're also, by definition, into football and one of the glories of football is, it's actually quite accessible. It's not 4d chess. It's not Brian Cox banging on about particle physics. Most fans can spot a half decent player and most of us have seen something in Apter. 

It's a good move for Rob, I get that, but how he hasn't had more minutes and a chance to stake his claim, is, in my humble opinion, bizarre (and that's me carefully choosing an adjective), at a club where the owners stated vision is to develop youth talent and the manager's stated goal is 'front foot football' and who is also on the record as not wanting to put too much faith in loans and to prefer having 'our own players'

How does that then square with the fact our two best young players are not here (Moore and Apter) and our other talented one (Holmes) can't even get a gig on the bench when there's no one else to play his position? Why? 

I've seen Rob play maybe about 11 or 12 times, maybe a bit more. I'm adding up preseason, youth games that were streamed and his odd appearances for the first team. He's clearly got some ability. At Wolves, he gave us, for 15 minutes, a bit of tempo. The other players perked up, we held the ball better, because he wasn't frightened to receive it and hold/turn. He wasn't frightened to make direct runs at them either. He gave us, relative to other players who've played this year, an outlet. There was a sense that he made us a better team for that brief period because he constantly showed for it and was good enough to at very least give and go and make another pass. In some of our attacking play, that basic element has not been present. Apter looked to have some confidence. A bit of self belief. His attitude was 'fuck it, I'm going to score or make a goal' and in a game that isn't actually as complex as sometimes we make it out, it's quite handy to have that kind of intent and instinct, especially when you've not seen much sign of it all for ages... 

Granted, my impressions of Rob are fleeting ones. I actually have no idea if he's going to make a long term impact because technique alone isn't always enough but part of what makes football worth watching is seeing narratives like young players testing their mettle and I've not been as interested to see one get a chance for ages.

I'm excited to see Dembele, don't get me wrong... but I'm absolutely shocked that his incoming means Apter's outgoing - as if we can't have more than one creative player at any one time. It's also true to say that he's not our player and if the model is develop and cash in and incrementally improve then Dembele doesn't really add anything to that long term vision. 

In this league, we're not a little plucky success story. We're actually a relatively medium to big fish. There are teams who we need to get at, teams we need to blow away with quick, skilful attacking football, dogged defences we need to unlock with movement and interchanging and angles. We need pace, verve, energy and invention. Apter possesses that.

I feel like I don't know what we're trying to do. We've got a load of fairly middle aged players (by football standards) and a couple of slightly younger ones and one or two older ones. We've played boring and not particularly effective football in all the games I've seen so far.

I look at other squads and I see them embracing young players. I see fan bases who are enjoying that but meanwhile we're playing a cautious brand of football with some honest, but not particularly thrilling players. I can see us improving, but I don't see the thrilling football team lurking inside what I've seen so far. 

Apter made his debut 3 seasons ago. He then played in the Championship. We won the game he started and he set up a goal when he came on. I'm looking at players who, to be honest, I'd have to go and look up to find the last time they actually did anything for us. 

It's far too reductive simply to say 'fans just want signings' and 'fans are entitled' 

I'm not at all into the idea of buying the league. It actually doesn't interest me. I like seeing players grow and develop. I like seeing players who didn't fit elsewhere coming good. I like the feeling of winning because of tactical nous and bravery. I like the feeling of winning because we try harder or are more together than the other team. I like the notion that sometimes, the other team can have better players but the best team wins. I honestly don't mind losing when we've done our best and it just didn't happen. I don't mind losing when we played well last week because 'you can't win them all' or you think 'an off day' and you look forward to the next game. 

I like the idea that when the game kicks off, you don't know. I'd actually hate to support Man City. Genuinely.

I look at us right now though, and I don't understand what it is we're trying to do. Critchley keeps saying things like 'I want us to be us' and I actually don't know what he means. I know Lavs is waspish, Grimmy has a beard and mostly sleeps and Matty Virtue often doesn't quite score the goal his bustling intent nearly creates but it feels slim pickings in terms of definable character.

'Us' - what is that? Anyone? shapethegrouponandofftheballinandoutofpossessiononthegrassmomentsofqualitygoodpositions etc. Rinse. Repeat. What are we actually aiming for? For what it's worth, I understood the Appleton idea. It just didn't work often enough. I'm struggling to follow the logic of playing a defensive midfielder/utility right sided centre back on the left wing and so on and so forth. 

I actually think we've got a decent enough squad in some respects. It feels as if we're short of maybe 3 pieces of quality and that that quality would in turn, bring out a lot of the quality in the players we already have. Players with reasonable all round quality need players whose attributes are skewed in one particular direction. For every Connolly you need a Bowler so to speak. For every Turton, you need a Madine is a another way of looking at it. 

What is frustrating is that Apter looks to me like at least half of one of those pieces of quality. He has something a bit different to offer. Letting him go out seems fearful. It seems risk averse. It seems to smack of 'we've got too many senior pros and we don't want to upset them by giving Rob a bench place or a game ahead of them' - it seems like the easy way to go, the way you'd go if you wanted a quiet life... 

I've been baffled by some of the tactical choices we've made and I've been baffled by our reluctance to use some of the squad and I'm baffled when I look at players like Apter (and to an extent Dale and the way we use Carey as anything but what he is good at and a different thing every other week) and I then look at other teams and see them doing those things and enjoying themselves.

I know Apter doesn't fit a conservative 532 particularly, but again, if it was up to me, (granted, I'm neither a holder of an Elite Pro Licence nor in the employ of any professional football club,) I'd want my substitutes and fringe players to have the ability to give us options. Flexibility was, after all one of the key elements in our previous successes under Crithley. Apter, Carey, Dale and Dembele all strike me as players who could make, say, 4231 work in certain circumstances and whose youthful zest and/or technical ability could be helpful in feeding a clinical and  but somewhat aged striker in Rhodes. 

I think I'm probably more pissed off by this than even watching Mick have Curtis Nelson drill long balls at Ian Poveda because things had clearly spiralled out of control and the car was on fire and that happens sometimes and when it does, you just have to hope it's over quickly and you can salvage something from the wreckage. 

This season seems like a calculated plot to not take any risks at all and I frankly don't understand it, especially in the light of the fact that last season, when we did chuck in the kids, we actually improved and looked at valid proposition after months of being dysfunctional. I'm not writing this blog to have a go at players but some of the 'established' players have been poor for a long time. 

I think it's important sometimes to wonder if the noise about money obscures the fact that money has to be used well. Don't get me wrong, I think we needed to be a lot more active in the market, but also, I'm looking at our players and I'm not convinced we're making the best of them and I'm certainly not convinced that we've taken the chance of a reset and a return to the vision of the club as outlined at the outset of the new era. 

If we're not going to trust some of the youth OR make signings to fill some of the gaps then what are we expecting to see as a result? Granted, Gabriel and Joseph will improve us a lot but they're nowhere near fit. 

I honestly don't know how 'Lavery pressing until his hamstring goes again whilst we stay as solid as we can' is going to propel us up the league. I could be wrong. I am often wrong. I want to be wrong.  

I genuinely hope that having written this that my words are shoved down my stupid blogger throat and we win the next 20 games 10-0. 


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Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Old Gold Sunset - Wolverhampton Wanderers vs the Mighty

From the moment I leave work to the moment I park the car, this drive is not the kind of drive to prompt poetic reflection. The traffic speeds up. It slows down. There's diversions. There's random queues at junctions. There's a nosebleedingly complicated route to the car park that culminates in being stuck behind a standoff betweeen a little old lady and a massive gangster 4*4, neither of whom are prepared to give way. 

Several times, I consider whether this was a mistake. I'm already knackered and books like 'How to ensure you are mentally and physically healthy in order to maximise your productivity in a world where really, your only value is your ability to work' suggest things like yoga or having a walk and looking at a duck in order to overcome tiredness. Those kind of books constantly outline to you that your mental health is up to you and you alone. You must rest and play in spiritually nourishing ways! It is is what the ancient Tibetan gods of management bullshit demand... 

Nowhere in owt I've read does any guru suggest 'get in the car after work and drive a long way to watch an almost meaningless game of football that your team are pretty much certain to lose when you've got to be up again at 6.30am' as a means of 'being kind to yourself'  

Even the walk up is fraught, a lad on a bike falls off in busy traffic. There's the horror moment as you think you're about to witness something horrific. Thankfully he isn't squashed by a vehicle. It looks as if his handlebars snapped. Passers by rush to his aide. He's ok.  

As soon as I get in the ground though, it all disappears. I'm so glad I came. Molyneux is glorious. The sun setting behind the stand is the perfect tone to offset the old gold and black decor. It's a rare treat these days to be in a ground with four different stands. It's a new old ground and it retains some sense of place and character. The pitch is perfect, the home end looks fantastic with the rail seating looking like a proper terrace if you squint a bit. There's more than I thought here, and the atmosphere, is, by football standards, relaxed and convivial. 


I hope this game might suit us - maybe Critchball 3.0 will come to life against a side who, whilst technically gifted will play in a different way to what we're used to. Perhaps we'll see what it is we're going for tonight. 

Those hopes are quickly dashed. After a few minutes of fairly equal sparring, Wolves assert themselves and score a goal that has a faint air of 'everyone watching whilst the ball moves quicker than they can handle' 

Then we actually press and harry and disrupt Wolves. The ball breaks to Dougall and he hits a most glorious effort, swinging away from the keeper and smacking the base of the post. Maybe this could be good after all? 

It's a false dawn. Wolves crush us without any great sense of going through the gears. A clinical move is finished after Lyons concedes possession twice in a row. A swift counter attack is nodded home after a floated slow motion cross. The fourth resembles a goal you'd score on FIFA against someone who doesn't know the controls. The fifth is a lucky defection after a spell of quite lovely passing, all acute angles and constant movement. 

At points in between those goals, a few other things happen. 

Callum Connolly takes a ridiculous free kick from miles out. It smacks the bar. It would have been more than worth coming if that had gone in. 

Carey and Beesley both struggle to make any headway at all. 

Andy Lyons has, to be frank, a pretty ropy night. Thommo does ok and looks the play with the most energy at times. It is noticeable how we don't seem especially desperate to chance our arm and really go for it. It's understandable that Wolves are better than us, but there's the same, well, sameyness about our play. It's really hard to identify anyone as a particular 'danger' to the opposition. 

Oakley Boothe comes on and makes one really good tackle. He weirdly ends the night playing up front. I'm not sure why. 

There's gallows humour as we laugh at the idea of CJ bagging 4 on his own from the subs bench. There's confusion as the story of a fight in the concourse is relayed round the crowd. There's a PA system that keeps making me jump because it's really loud and the announcer leaves a little oddly timed gap before shouting 'Goal for Wolves.'

Rob Apter comes on and I love watching his constant movement, he bobs around the pitch in little sideways skips, always turning and changing direction, constantly scanning play, pointing and offering himself. He immediately causes Wolves a different problem. He's determined to burrow through their defence but also clever in how he offloads at the latest possible moment. He's the first of our players to really look like he backs himself to make something happen. My overriding thought is 'how, when we're drawing 0-0 against significantly worse teams than this, do we not bring this little bundle of energy and ideas onto the pitch to try and win the game?' He looks like he has more ideas in about 15 minutes than some of our players have had in the last year. 

He perks everyone up a bit, on and off the pitch. He plays like it's fun to do so, whereas the others make it look a bit like office work. It says a lot about the homogeneous functionality of the majority of the squad that Apter is the only real reason I stay to the end.  


To be honest, I don't feel any sense of anger or even particular frustration. This game just confirms that, exciting 20, gifted and energetic year old Scottish age group internationals who really should be getting more game time aside, there is no magic bullet in our ranks. There is no player waiting in the wings to magically change it all. We've got more honest pros who will do their pressing and stay in lane, but no horrendously overlooked wizards ready to set a tempo and drag us to glory. 

As far as you can enjoy being comprehensively outplayed by a team in cruise mode, I did enjoy it. It was weirdly low key on a warm late summer night. It was good to be outside if nothing else.

I think there's probably a certain usefulness in realising that we're short of what we need, regardless of how the opposition play. We couldn't withstand some nice passing, moving and breaking by technically able players who didn't really have to try too hard - we lost in the same way we've struggled against the more rugged stuff in our own league. The opposition changed but our game seemed more or less the same. 

We weren't criminally bad and, in fact, at times we played some quite nice stuff but overall, we just look well short of being a real team (as in an effective combination of players) to me at the moment. It's all very safe. At one point I note that Wolves get 7 players in and around the box on a break. When we try the same, our front players are isolated. We get maybe 3 at most to where they were at the same point when we broke.  

It is what it is. I sense change is coming. I hope so at least. I can't see how we can not roll the dice a bit. An exotic wonderkid who doesn't do defending is a decent start. Imagine him and Apter spinning magic. Fuck defence. We can just attack. We can only dream... 


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Monday, August 28, 2023

It's one of them Chizz: A reflection on anger and football.

I've not written anything about football in more general terms for ages. I miss doing that. I think maybe it's because, like all 'content providers' (a term that makes me want to bounce my own face off a solid object until I can feel nothing anymore) I've become trapped in a loop of my own making. 

I try not to follow the numbers and tell myself I'm beyond that shallow thinking... but it becomes a kind of inevitable mild mental illness. It makes you feel good to get reinforcement - you chuck this shit into the universe and it's nice when a small part of it reacts. Without meaning to, you end up subconsciously doing more of the same. Pieces about CJ Hamilton cast as a comedy character in a film where a lovable but hapless fella accidentally becomes a professional footballer get more responses than pieces about the socio-economic trends of society being reflected in football. Hence, you get more pieces with ever more elaborate descriptions of CJ not quite pulling off the moment of genius we all secretly are hoping he will and less about say, Radcliffe Borough's importance as beacon of local identity. 


I read a piece today that really made me think and prompted me to write something in a different tone than I've done for ages.

That's what I like about fan writing (another term that knocks me a bit ill to be honest) - sometimes you come across stuff that yer actual media (Gary Neville, Henry Winter and that) can't say. They're not and never will be, cognisant of the experience of fandom because, they'll never understand how it feels to waste loads of money and time on a thing that makes you profoundly unhappy sometimes. Football may make them unhappy, but it also provides them a living and they've got an
inherently different relationship that, whilst not at all disqualifying them from comment on players, tactics, managers etc, does make it a bit hard to take them seriously when they talk about fans and football culture. 

I've never put ads on this or asked for donations or owt, partly because I'd probably get about 8p a month and it would be pointless, but also because I really don't want the thing I genuinely really like doing (going to games and then talking a bit of shit about it) to become something where I have to start 'looking for an angle to sustain the numbers' or even worse 'doing because I have to' - that's the fundamental difference between me and Henry Winter or whoever. I don't have to do this. It's not my job. I can write, say and do what I want (or not) - that's where sometimes, I think fans* can write some insightful stuff - because they're free to just do whatever. 

(*in general, not me in particular, though I do think my groundbreaking piece about the Fonz ringing someone's nan has been overlooked by the literary world unfairly) 

The piece I read is here:

What it made me think is below: 

Firstly, the notion that as Blackpool fans, we're somehow a unusually 'toxic' fanbase, I don't think holds true. I think we are a bit mental compared to some and frankly, that's no bad thing, but in terms of hyperbolic tendencies, probably no more prone to them than anyone else.

I heard on the way back from Lincoln, an Arsenal fan literally screaming into his phone on Talksport because Arteta has played a player out of position. Words like 'clueless, disgrace, stupid' thrown like septic water gushing from a particular fetid tap. The article is about Bournemouth - a club that have 'punched above their weight' for a while and we often look at with some envy - yet, there's a really negative undertone to it all. These are clubs who have had good experiences of late. Outperformed expectation in the top league! 

We think 'oh, if we were actually up there, it would be fun, not angry' - but would it? I think the world has turned, even since the last time we got there.

Would it not be an amplification of all the rage and anger. Would it not be even more desperate when we're doing badly? Even harder to shake off a defeat, because the noise that surrounds it is even louder?

I'm not suggesting at all that we all just give up on wanting success - that would basically defeat the whole point for following any team in the professional game - but I'm questioning the idea that actually, 'toxicity' (such as it is) is unique to particular clubs and is banished forever by success.

'Fans just want success' is a cliche' that the professional voices often trot out. It was a stick used by ignorant voices during our own fights with our owners (yes Mark 'Clem' Clemmit, you, you fucking prick) and there's no doubt a grain of truth to it - it's rare to see a club embroiled in crisis whilst winning a quadruple. It's only a grain of truth though as what we see in the twitter comments and hear in the phone in voices, is often a level of rage about the temporary absence of success that is quite irrational. Liverpool fans fury as outlined in the article is a bizarre phenomena.

I'm not suggesting that top flight club's fans don't have things to be discontented about - but in general, the things I would empathise with them over such as the touristification (I made the word up) of their grounds, the relentless kick off changes, the increasing prices and the general ever growing distance between clubs and the communities they were birthed by and are sited in aren't really the kind of things that gain traction on the spaces where fans' views are heard and seen. The fact you've not won the Champions League EVERY season doesn't seem to be that much of a burden to carry.

It's part of the global aspect of football. The 'armchair' supporter of the 80s and 90s was part of how the biggest clubs built their power base financially. Football fans would mock the Slough based Manchester United fan but their voice and opinions rarely reached our ears. We'd chuckle at Liverpool shirts in Surrey and look down our noses. They were 'missing out' and would never be as important as us who actually went to games. They only wanted wins. That was their literal reason to follow the team. Reflected glory. They'd never get it.

How little we knew. The income from global rights and subsequent opportunities to advertise on a global scale is now more important than the income from match going supporters by several orders of magnitude. It's more important even than domestic TV rights. Football has gone global.

With social media connecting the world, it means that it's not just the fella in a Candy shirt in St Albans in 1991 who has an opinion on Liverpool. It's people in Jakarta, Christchurch and Rio and almost everywhere beyond and in between.

Those voices massively outnumber the season ticket holders on the Kop. They outnumber even the 'plastic' glory hunters from the home counties. They're many millions in number and they're loud. If the fella from Taunton in a Man U shirt is only about glory, then that's even more true of people from further away. There's no sense of pride in place or tradition or routine. No 'I'm here cos my dad took me' or whatever the narrative we use to understand why we turn up each week. It's a raw bet on success. It's a brand relationship like any other.

If you buy a fancy car to up your street cred and it breaks down, you get angry. If you have a much loved old banger passed down to you, then you kind of accept it. This isn't a million miles away from the difference in the way the 'new breed' of fan supports their team as compared to the traditional (legacy) fan. There are of course, exceptions. There are thoughtful and objective supporters from all over the globe. Absolutely there are. I've literally talked to them. There's also lots of people who've made a kind of consumer bet on Man Utd or Chelsea or Liverpool at a particular point and are very pissed off when that bet doesn't work out.

Perhaps, it's somehow easier, when distanced from things, to glibly trot out loud opinions. Perhaps it's easier, when you don't actually see the players in the flesh, not least because they're on another continent, to forget that they're people as well as objects for critique. Maybe, if you aren't in anyway part of the 'community' of the club (in any physical sense at all) easier to not really understand the impact that relentless critique has on the atmosphere around the whole affair. Anyone who actually attends games regularly will understand that, yes, whilst we go to watch the team win (ideally) we also find some joy in the collective experience. Triumph feels good, because we're experiencing it together. Disaster is perhaps best mitigated by us sharing our frustrations and finding a black humour in the experience.

I love the notion that the article cites about the idea that a lot of the loudest internet voices and the comments that sustain them are actually just classic 'internet trolls' - that's a category that has always been around from back in the day on the web - they lurk and hype up stuff and post controversial things for responses. They're not 'football fans' first - they're internet trolls first - and perhaps they don't and maybe never have, actually gone to games.

Why are they always sat at home, in a home studio, reacting too games? It's weird! Could it be, they've just latched on to a thing where it's easy to get responses - Internet trolls will often attach themselves to bizarre places if there's good responses to be had. There's an entire internet community on a message board, dedicated to winding up the users of Mumsnet for example. It's easy fishing... Football is already quite emotive and prone to a bit of trigger happy response - so for a troll, for whom eyes on a screen actually equals income and even a career, football is a perfect platform.

If we're not convinced about the validity of that, then there's certain media figures who've built an entire career out of essentially just being angry about things they're not actually angry about on a daily or weekly basis. That's as true of football (I'm looking at several presenters of national football phone ins over the top of my glasses with a disapproving look) as it is of social and political commentators.

If we went back 30 years, the idea of anyone being interested in the view of some random fella in his bedroom being furious about what substitutes Arteta had made would be really, really weird. It would be practically incomprehensible. He's not even there?! He's not even from London?! WHY ARE WE WATCHING HIM WATCH A GAME???

Now, there's a whole shift in the way football is viewed by the world and actually, being totally disconnected from the game by geography is by far the most dominant form of spectatorship. That person has a whole audience of people for whom he is 'a voice' and 'a face' - he represents a wide range of fans and he's mad as hell and he wants them to be too because ANGER = COMMENTS and COMMENTS = CASH in a world of internet grift. 

There's loads of good, constructive, creative fan media (I would say that wouldn't I?) and some great twitter accounts and interactions you can have on message boards etc but that stuff is generally a bit of an anomaly compared to the overall tone. 

How much has actual yer football fandom been shaped by that? How much has the way we all behave before, during and after games been impacted by the presence in our discourse of people who aren't actually, in any traditional way at all, part of the cultural group of 'football supporters' as we'd classically understand that to be. Most clubs aren't quite in the global spotlight in the way Arsenal and Liverpool and even Bournemouth are... I think it does still have an impact.

Most of us will engage in some form of social media post match (or even during match) That becomes in some ways, the dominant way we receive our analysis - more so than the papers for certain and even a tabloid ghost written column is far, far, far, far more considered and thoughtful than 'Fuck player X cos he is a cunt and should die' type analysis. There's a huge number of posts on any given day that just say 'Player X is god' or 'Player X is shit' - It's all very binary.

You don't see many viral tweets that say 'player x has a range of strengths and perhaps today wasn't his day and maybe we should also consider a range of factors including the work of his teammates, his personal life and the inherent and inevitable fact that sometimes football goes wrong and it's not your day because if it didn't, it wouldn't actually be football at all'

We used to laugh at the cliche's like 'its a funny old game' and 'at the end of the day' but we'd recycle them ourselves in the way we thought about the game as that was the dominant kind of reflections we heard beyond our our own 'pub chat.'

Now we're recycling each others rage and amplifying our fury simply in order to be heard above the din

I personally adore Brett Ormerod as a footballer and also as a person. His in game analysis isn't always as incisively analytical or deeply data driven as it might be. There's something really quite glorious though about his go to phrase of 'It's one of them Chizz'

That annoys people sometimes, I know... but... sometimes, it IS 'one of them Chizz' - sometimes shit just happens and that's the way it is. Especially on a football pitch where the whole appeal of the game is that a load of fellas are crammed into a small space with a ball and the rules of the game are literally designed to make some 'shit happen' at regular intervals. Sometimes, that shit goes against you and it's 'one of them Chizz' - if we can't collectively accept that, then rage and fury are the only possible results from football. 'One of them' will inevitably come along sooner or later. Even if you're a Man City fan. Eventually.

I'd rather take my cue from the laid back and philosphical ex footballer with warmth in his voice and a bit of a smile in his heart than some weird raging, sweating, angry, humourless fella with a pseudo Sky Sports set up like he's living out a strange childhood fantasy of being a furious Steve Ryder. These people are weird as fuck. They chuck rage into the ether to feed rage and they make money out of it.

You and I, we don't make any money out of anger. We just end up feeling shit. I think that's worth thinking about sometimes. The whole social algorithm is tweaked towards generating fury because fury makes money for someone somewhere. That someone isn't us. 

As the article above points out there's a very real and quantifiable mental health crisis and football is a kind of boiling pot where those things can burst out. Football is not and never will be separate from society. It's an incredible thing that you can lose control at a football game. It's one of the reasons why I love it deeply. It's like nothing else.

It's perhaps not so incredible if that cathartic release of anger becomes a prolonged and repeated pattern of ever increasing frustration and rage that goes well beyond the confines of a stadium or 90 minutes.

You don't always win. It would be weird and hollow if you did. Fuck's sake Pool. Imagine never saying that again. You'd actually miss it. 


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Saturday, August 26, 2023

Out of ideas? - Lincoln City vs the Mighty

Wake really early. Get away. What else is there to do. Might as well tick off the seconds to death somewhere else eh?

From west to east. Upwards. Steady climb. Patchwork fog over Saddleworth. The world smudge grey then suddenly light. Dark heather ripe with dew, thrown into instant contrast before the fog claims the view again.

Motorway bridges can be magnificent. 20 miles of nothing then a perfectly formed arch hangs between steep sides. Another twenty miles. The aerial sprawl of a junction where concrete pathways that seem to be heading skyward interlace and shoot off in different directions before curving gracefully back to earth. A sculptural moment of choice.

Downwards now. Post industrial sprawl gives way to fenland. Coppices and hedgerows the only thing that disrupts a land so flat in looks as if it's been rolled. Deeper into it now and an occasional recurring but endlessy varying pattern of hay bails and cut straw serve to colour the landscape like abstract modern art.

If I believed, I'd say such mornings are like stepping into a gallery of God's work. I don't, so 'it's just mad what shit there is when you remember to look' will have to do.

Lincoln. I can't work it out. It's full of trendy farmers. High fashion UKIP. I love the little rough back streets by the ground with their terraced houses that are all stuck together but yet not all the same. I can't tell if I love or hate the town. It's so fucking English in that ITV drama English way that I don't feel like it's English. Is this my England? I don't know. Whatever it is, it seems to have a disproportionate number of aging heavy metal fans and people who seem to be either endless variations on Jeremy Clarkson/farmers wives or people who went to art school in the 70s. Maybe Lincoln is an experiment to see what happens if you put a particular gene set into an infinite variance machine? I realise later that actually most of these people probably aren't from Lincoln and it's like calling Blackpool people a bunch of Glaswegians on a stag do.

I find a shit street with a cash converters. I feel less underdressed. A bit more at home. Then a fucking steam traction engine drives by like that's a perfectly normal thing and then everything goes twee and and strange again. I still don't know if I like it or not.

Oh, you want football?

We've signed the little big man and the old fella who used to be good. I'm excited about the first and confused about the second. The second one will probably play and the first one will probably go on loan to Crawley or something.

Please fucking score. Or just attack sometimes.

Critch knows. He must know. I know he's a big (actually, fairly small) boring turncoat etc etc etc but he's also the most hardworking and intelligent manager we could probably get without taking a wild punt and hoping it works out. This is his absolute speciality. An away day to somewhere miles away. Smash and grab. Play the best stuff when no one's watching. You know what? Today, I'm begging him for a fisting.

(To be honest, I'd like to think I was better than that on both a personal and literary level, but fuck it. It's a shit blog about shit football in a shit league and you've got to get your kicks somehow)


Things start ok. There are chances. Then... Marvin's mental slide tackle. It's like he's broken. He stops. He jumps. It's like a skipped record. A missed frame in an old film. Static. Pounce. It's all wrong. Jerky. Fucking hell. Grimmy waves and dances to no avail. Fucks sake Pool.

We play ok again. We make some chances. The closest we come is when Marvin nearly scores with what looks to me, like his back. I think that sums it up. There's some oohing and groaning and some playing it across the face of goal and some not quite getting a shot off and generally a sense that we're a bit scared to put our foot through it or if we have a chance it'll probably be Callum Connolly who it falls to and he's not going to score anyway. It never really ever feels like anyone will.

Probably our best chance sees Lavs run free and then inexplicably (at the time) stop and square it to Beesley who isn't there and looks quite flustered when he realises he is expected to be. It turns out Lavery has done his hamstring and thus stopping was quite explicable after all. Rhodes comes on and does ok but he's not really got the vibe of 'pacy lad who scares the shit out of other teams defence'

Then the old fella who used to be good is left running desperately back after a Lincoln player who seems to have a force field around him as everyone dives out the way to avoid tackling him and then he slaps it home. It beats Grimmy easily but someone tells me it hit Marv. I don't know. Don't really care to be honest. Either way it's a goal. 


My other favourite things about this half that to be honest, I'd rather forget.

I liked the bit when CJ got possession and went at his man and then *didn't do any sort of trick, feint, sway or anything even remotely designed to get the ball past the defender and just fell over after losing it and then looked a bit sad/confused* I also liked the bit where *the ball hit him in the face* as he tried the weirdest bit of control ever. Oh CJ. CJ. CJ. CJ. 

On a cathartic level I sort of enjoyed going 'for fucks sake Bees' when he watched the ball and expected CJ to come and win a header as if he'd never heard of the idea of 'a big lad being on the pitch to head stuff that comes near him' and obviously thought CJ was better in the air than him as if he'd never met CJ before. Then I felt a bit tight, cos I always stuck up for Gaz when he didn't jump but, well, Bees isn't Gaz.


I don't know. We've been arguably better than them. We're also 2-0 down and some of our play has been woeful.


Critch is hopping mad and has subbed everyone. I think he might have sent a note to some of their mums saying he's disappointed too.

Dale, Carey, Lyons all join. That's some technique and ability. Maybe this will be the masterclass bit.

Carey has the best shot of the game, a low fizzing drive the keeper stops well. CJ has a gilt edged chance he makes look less inviting than it was by putting it into the stand. Norburn wellies one 8 foot over the top. Rhodes I think shoots as well but overall it's all a bit hopeful rather than intense pressure.

It's fizzling out anyway when Hubby, Grimmy and Norburn combined somehow all get a touch but can't stop their lad, so Ollie chops him down and gets sent off and they score another pen and I've no more words about this game to be honest other than that because, well, we lost 3-0 and there's nothing really to gripe about or rage against other than ourselves.


It's tempting to say things like 'actually, we were the better team for a lot of the game so it'll come good' but that's not how I feel. I mean, in many ways, we were but that kind of makes it worse. We were ok in terms of possession in harmless places, but we couldn't defend and we really couldn't attack. The only time I felt like we'd come really close was the Carey effort and though you could see Rhodes had some quality and was willing to have a go at goal, he didn't really seem to look like someone who was going to change the dynamic massively and give us major new options.

Everything in front of goal look scuffed, laboured. We didn't run in straight lines, we didn't show aggression. We seemed to be doing everything to keep possession, but with no obvious sense of getting the ball to a particular player or with any real belief that it would get us anywhere. No one wanted to take on anyone. CJ got the stick from the crowd, but as bad as he was, I thought he showed as much intent as 2 or 3 others combined who just played it safe, safe, safe. CJ doesn't make the right decisions, but it's not his fault he hasn't got the technique or confidence and that when it goes wrong it tends to have a farcical quality to it.

I very rarely go to 'lack of effort' when I write up a game because, actually, I think it's very rare, as much as fans tend to cite it, that we don't try but there was little intensity to our play. It felt kind of directionless. Risk free.

We were the better team in some metrics, but we did so little with that. Some of our players looked a bit lost or played it safe. We looked robotic and stiff. There was no instinct from some of them. It felt as if, not for the first time this season, that we were playing a training ground exercise that was foiled by the other team rudely not following the instructions on how they should play.

We made a load of subs, but we kept the same shape because we seem to have lost the pages of the manual that have other formations drawn on them. CJ probably the one player who worried them. That's what is genuinely concerning. Marvin is out of form for sure and he had a terrible afternoon, but Pennington can come in. CJ needs to be relived of wing back duties but I genuinely don't know who else will run at the other team from wide or has any pace. Beesley is (lets be diplomatic) not in the form of his life, but how do we swap him out when no one else wins a header other than the centre backs?

I don't see the quality at the moment to make the system work but I don't see the option to change it either. We've got too many samey players who are in a rut around the midpoint of their careers. We've got some good players who don't have the right system/options and we've got a few that just need to go.

We've won 6 times in 10 months I think. We look like 10 nice lads and a grumpy fella (who is now suspended) on a geography field trip with the head of Yr 10 in a tracksuit.

We need to shake it up.

I don't normally go on about transfers cos frankly, there are better thinks to wank about than the money rich idiots with egos spend on footballers to sate the appetites of football fans who take their self esteem from some kind of bizarre show of reflected financial power, but honestly, straight up, not even lying or exaggerating, we really do need a load out and a load in. Critch needs to get the Fabreze out quickly, cos there's a smell of mothballs and hangovers. Too many games lost in legs and too many similar players half of whom know they won't play much at a point when they need to be.

This system needs an upgrade in quality in at (very) least two positions to start to work. If we can't get that quality then we need to change the system and to change the system we need players we don't have. Either way, the dice needs to be rolled.

On the way back, the setting sun lit the underside of the clouds over the moors. It was beautiful. I wanted to stop and watch them change shape, shifting within and upon themselves whilst the pinks turn to darker reds and burnt orange then fade to night because why not? Out there is the atmosphere and beyond that a universe so vast we can't even hold it in our minds.

It's only football and we're not long here are we? There's all of time and space and all of existence and in that light, we're truly privileged to be the few sentient beings in all of that everything and forever who get to see CJ as an inverted wing back. When you think about it that way, it's kind of a wonder of the age really.


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Saturday, August 19, 2023

Same, same, same... : the Mighty vs Leyton Orient

Right. Enough of last week. Boring games happen. It's just a fact of life. We all just want it to be *a bit more interesting* and it's definitely going to be this week isn't it? 

Inside it's all very casual. They've only brought a few and the sun is shining It's still mid August. Time for some sun soaked football magic. 

No one seems to make that much of Richie Wellen's presence either. There he is, padded jacket incongruous in the warmth, looking like he's barely aged since he made his debut (from my distance anyway.) Everything is set for a good day. 


They are terrible. For the first 15 minutes, we're all over them. They can't pass, when they try to run with it, they look sluggish. Their central defenders' use of the ball makes Marvin look like prime Pirlo. 

We're busy and playing with intent. Lavery smashes a snap shot and draws a good save. We're happy enough with an open game and better for it. 

There's a scramble in the box following a corner and Jimmy hits one well and there's another tidy piece of keeping. 

I wonder in my head after we have a shot 'Will Critch be pissed off that we lost possession?'

For all that we play in the first spell, we then hit a long, long patch where we just, well, don't. It's like a sailing ship becalmed. Orient stop being shit and start to do basic stuff in a vaguely competent way. 

That has us baffled. Repeatedly the ball ends up with Marvin who looks like a lost child in a supermarket, who doesn't know what to do, turning one way then the other as if searching for a familiar face but seeing only a sea of strangers. The general discontent at this is probably not helping his sense of inner calm. 

We offer next to nothing and thus we start to concede chances. Grimmy makes a brilliant instinctual stop, Grimmy dives tidily to his right and keeps out a drive. Grimmy bends himself backwards to get a touch on one that loops up and drops in front of an empty need and somehow Casey (I think) gets away with strong arming their lad off the ball and the ball is levered away. 

We're second best for a long period, until, as if fearing the half time reaction we decide to have a little go at attacking again as if fending off the boos. 




We come out all guns blazing and score immediately, fired up by a new found self belief and bolstered by two attacking changes, releasing some of our pent up young players into the game to finally have their shot at glory. 

Oh. No. That didn't happen. Instead we labour manfully and the game basically continues as it did before. 

It wasn't quite as shit as Tuesday. Beesley wins a few headers. We have the odd corner but it's not like we're establishing ourselves in their half and battering the door down. 

Morgan drives it. Their keeper sprawls, Lavery charges on to the loose ball and cracks the base of the post. Things calm down. Time for that definitive attacking change ..

"Replacing number 15, Jensen Weir, no 17, Matty Virtue...' 

Jensen Weir has been fine. He's a kid. He's done ok, he played a couple of nice passes, had a shot or two blocked. The ball has mostly sailed over his head. Matty Virtue is on. 

Now, let me be very clear about this. I like Matty Virtue. If you're going to do ok, you need some Matty Virtues. He's honest, he's bustling, he can pass a bit, shoot a bit and there's nothing at all wrong with him. But... Him coming on is just the most Critchley change in the world. We're struggling to break down a fairly limited side (relative to our stated ambitions at least) and we've made the same fucking sub we make every week. 

Matty Virtue isn't an agent of change. He's the kind of player who is good at keeping things the same. He's not the man you give the ball to to make the magic. He's the man that goes and gets the ball and gives it to the magic man. 

We've no fucking strikers on the bench. We're basing our game on pressing from the front and yet we can rotate out a striker and bring on fresh legs. Owen Dale isn't Messi but he's as close as we've got and he sits gathering splinters. Rob Apter is somewhere else, being 'developed' for when he's finally ready at the age of 29 to come on in a game that matters. Brad Holmes isn't on the bench because we need space for all the other Matty Virtues. It's like we're a team of Matty Virtues. All of them are variations on Matty Virtue. I like the actual Matty Virtue, but when you've got about 15 of him, then it's hard to get overexcited about him coming on. To be fair, he does ok. He does what he always does which is fine. In and of itself. 

You can probably tell I've had enough. Leyton Orient do some stuff. We do some stuff. Our stuff includes a few scrambles in the box, one in which Beesley waves his leg at the ball in possibly the most unconvincing attempt at a finish I've ever seen and the other sees super Jimbo unable to get it out from under his feet. 

We make a fundamental tactical switch, throwing caution to the wind and chucking Marvin up front and pin Orient back. 

Actually, we don't do that - we swap Weir for Sonny and carry on the same but (check this next level shit) we swap the full backs over. It has little impact. 

We're better than them. Aren't we? Surely? I'm not sure. 9 minutes injury time... 

A ball, Lavery, onto it, he's fighting, he's winning,he's cutting inside, he's through and he's putting it past the far post.... 

I never felt like he'd score. I never felt like we'd score. I never really felt like they'd score. We're trapped in a never ending 0-0. 

Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaackpoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiil Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeytooooooooooooooooooooon Oooooooooooooooooooorieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeent NiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiL 

It's like time has slowed down. 


It's not that it's *all* shit. 

It doesn't even have the tragicomic appeal of a shit show. Casey and Jimmy were again good. Norburn is perfectly suited to his role. Morgan is kind of almost really impressive but somehow not quite yet there, Weir looked like there's something there if we can work out what to do with it (basically, see Sonny and extrapolate the same conclusions) Lavs ran hard and kept at it from first minute to last. Beesley is a curious blend of physical and timid. He'll win one really well and then look like he's pulling out the next. To me, it looks as if anything above waist height, he's more than fine with but as if he's jumpy about certain challenges on the ground, yet he's also quite neat with his feet. He works hard, he gets about but I'm struggling to pinpoint what he is. 

We know what we lack. A Gaz and some magic. It feels like we've built a platform but forgotten to actually put anything on it. 

It's all so functional seeming but lacking the key element - on one level, it's impressive we haven't conceded and yet, the architecture of an oil rig is impressive but also kind of pointless without the drill. 

We're a white painted wall without any artwork. We're a town square that is just paving and no fountain or statue, we're a chilli without any spice. A fireplace laid for decorative purposes with no actual airflow. We're breeze block without the plaster coating. We're beige.

It's not 'disgraceful' football. It's just boring, so much so that I found myself wondering if we have to lose to force us to learn to try to win. 

I've not got many problems with the players in the team beyond the fact a couple of them aren't quite good enough ('suitable' might be a kinder description) for the role they're playing. It's more a yearning for the two or three players that make all of this make some sense. We are surely looking for them... 

It isn't good enough but... let's take a deep breath and see where we are at the end of the window... 


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Yet another bad owner. Where do they breed them?

This is Brooks Mileson. He owned Gretna FC. If you don't know who he is or what the score is with Gretna, it might be worth giving it ...