Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Half a squad - Morecambe vs Blackpool.

Morecambe is easy to sum up. It's kind of like Blackpool except people don't go there on holiday any more at all. The beach is muddier but you can see the lakes. It's kind of like if the top bit of Fleetwood was mashed up with Blackpool. Sort of. It used to be a resort but then they demolished everything that made it a resort, even the Polo tower, which was, exactly as it sounds, a big tower that was made up like a giant tube of Polos. Now you can go for a day out and wander in what has been left behind which is a kind of dreamworld of faded things and occasional magic with sunsets to die for. 

My intrigue about the game is somewhat diminished when the club announce we've got another secret game where half the squad are playing. The players I want to see are mostly playing in that one. Two games in a day is a bit weird. I go to a good chippy though, so it's ok. 

Critch is as Critch does and all that. Minutes in the legs. The group. Back on the grass. Great pitches. Respecting the opposition. Not expecting an easy game etc. All of that sort of thing. 


The first half is really dull. Morecambe are a bit better than Barrow and we're exactly half as good as we were there. The side that's playing this game isn't exactly filled with flair players and it shows. 

We launch it at Beesley who runs around gamely but he can't get the ball to stick to him. Note to self. Do not mention Madine. (It takes about 30 minutes for someone near me to say "when's Madine fit again?" which as someone else said it, doesn't count as me saying it in any way. I'm just reporting things here.) 

Stuart Moore (who has played more games against us than for us, despite being with us for 3 years) makes a couple of good stops. Virtue has a shot blocked. Very little else happens apart from Thommo out of nowhere hits one of the best crossfield passes in the history of football and then a little bit later, again out of nowhere concedes a free kick for having a pointless scrap when we're in possession and he's not fighting for the ball. 

Thommo's luck dictates that Morecambe score from it. The ball is looped to the far post and a free red shirt puts it across the goal, past a statuesque fake Gary Goalkeeper and in off the near post. Were this a real game, rage would have ensued on three fronts but it's not so angst is limited to mild grumbling. 


We weren't great. It wasn't great, but it's preseason and all that. 


The second half picks up a bit. Norburn is controlling the game. He's balanced and has time. Virtue has a few nice touches but he looks a yard off the pace to me. Morgan delivers a good ball and seems to have worked out the pressing he needs to do. 

We start quite well but the goal comes after a bit of Morecambe pressure and a break. The sun is right in my face, so all I can tell you is a silhouette wins the ball (Norburn?) and another silhouette (Morgan?) slides it through for Lavery who spins, loses his man, draws the keeper and dinks it home with a deft touch. 

We have the better of the remaining play. CJ has a shot on the half volley that whistles just wide, Luke Marriete comes on and is very tidy. Jack Moore comes on and is really good. His delivery is something to behold. He has Kieran Trippier vibes for me. I'm not saying that I'm certain he's going to be England's right back in two World Cups and a European Championship but he's compact, has an economy and purpose about the way he plays and he makes crossing look devastatingly simple in a way that leaves you wondering 'why don't all players just do that?' He whistles in two sensational fizzing balls and also sends Morgan away who nearly puts in Lavery at the near post. He's also filled out a bit (and grown a beard) since I last saw him in the flesh and did ok in the physical battles too. I was impressed. If only he was a left back. 

The game ends on a sad note, with Holmes challenging for one of Moore's whipped balls and clattering into his defender, then lying prone on the ground. The treatment time takes up the remainder of the game, so we never see the corner that would have been and despite there not being a particular sense of anxiety amongst the players, Brad is strapped down and stretchered off as the rest take the applause. 


What did we learn here? I'm not sure. There's no point drawing conclusions from this game given the nature of the split squad thing. There's rarely much point in drawing conclusions from a preseason game full stop but it's difficult to escape the fact we're currently a bit light up front (until Joseph appears at least) and we don't really have a left side to match the right side. 

Morecambe were well drilled and probably offered a challenge not dissimilar to the kind we'll face from some teams next year. This 11 weren't really able to find a way through it very often, but this 11 isn't the best 11, it's just an 11, so there's no point in making sweeping statements about anything. Maybe that's the point of all this. Keep everyone guessing. We did play 5-3-2 again though... 


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Saturday, July 22, 2023

The first big weekend of the summer: Barrow vs Blackpool.

Why am I here? I could be dry at home. This game doesn't even matter a tiny bit. I like that about preseason though. It's a day out without needing get all worked up about it. It's something to do. That's all that any football is to be honest. A reason to get out of bed. A reason to go somewhere. Mental that it's a multi billion pound industry tbh. 

Barrow is a singular place. If you've read this blog before probably won't surprise you that I like Barrow. It's like a museum of my post industrial youth. It's like 1980s Manchester before the glass and steel turned Dickensian decay into loft apartment fantasy land. If you like the ghosts of Victoriana, (and let's face it, who doesn't?) Barrow has a lot going for it.

Lakeland hills, shrouded in cloud. Industrial estates rendered silent by the weekend and the blanket of fine rain. Piles of bricks where weeds run riot, drinking in the moisture and running their roots deeper into the thin soil. Islands. Barrow has loads of islands. It's like the Carribbean, only with a bit more red brick. I once proposed that Sunderland could be the post Brexit Monte Carlo. I still believe that and by extension, Barrow can be the post oil global travel ban Bahamas.


You can stay at the Premier Inn that abuts the nuclear submarine factory. Like, literally. It's stuck to it. You can't do that in Honolulu can you? You can wander the weird bit of promenade that goes from nowhere in particular to nowhere in particular but affords a glorious view of Walney (which is where the Thomas the Tank Engine island is based on) and the hills beyond. In the misty mizzle, the bridge to Walney looks like a sophisticated and continental structure.




Might clap Critch. Might not. He's mighty impressive, giving all those interviews where he says "the grouppp" a lot in a meaningful way and answers questions with a kind of world weary matter of fact manner but with an occasional sprinkling of impish, twinkly curiosity. It's like he's knocking out his greatest hits in a medley sometimes. He's just so in love with us etc...

For all that cynicism. The club just feels better. I dunno, tidier. Like when you've slobbed about for a few days not giving a fuck about the consequences of anything and then you clear up the plates and the ash trays, open all the windows and run the hoover about. It's all a bit fabreze scented. In a good way.

Still cross at him though.

It stops raining.

First half we're indeed, very neat and tidy. Apart from a Marvin mistake and a sloppy touch from Husband we control the play entirely. Virtue scores first, doing that running on from deep thing he does well but also out muscling the defender - something that he seems more able to do since becoming surprisingly bulky. He's that big that I don't recognise him. He's like if you imagine Matty Virtue but as a big American cowboy fella.

We're soon two up as Albie Morgan crosses and Lavery nips in. Easy as you like. Morgan has a lovely touch and is forward looking. Trybull is the ideal counterweight. It's painfully evident how he was (both literally and figuratively) the player we lacked last season. Jack Moore plays well, so much so that I only realise Jack Moore is playing just before half time. He's pretty much flawless. Pennington looks really good. He can play football. No fuss. Does his job.


We looked patient and calm but ready to pounce on any opportunity and Grimmy had absolutely nothing to do.


Second half is all change but in a way, no change at all. Fake Gary Goalkeeper makes one excellent stop late in the half but we're absolutely rampant and it's this half that really feels enjoyable.

Sonny Carey is playing where Sonny should play. That's not ratting about in front of the back four but looking for space in behind the strikers and linking things up. He's playing very well. This pleases me no end. There's a space in my heart in a post Gaz world and I fucking love watching this lad play cos he can play. I've good company today and we share an appreciation of Sonny's ability to leather a ball into the corner of the goal without much back lift in the warm up. Once, Twice, Three times. Everyone else just looks a bit graceless when the they kick by in comparison.

Rob Apter is ghosting around and when he manifests, playing all sorts of tricks. He's a wicked little woodsprite. He should get kicked up in the air but he's far too nimble and effervescent for the lumpen rooted tree trunks in the Barrow defence to catch up with.

Norburn looks quality. He scares me slightly. I wouldn't pick a fight with him. That's a good thing. I imagine him as the kind of lad who would have no compulsion in using a snooker cue in a pub brawl and doing so with great efficiency. You want him on your side. Alex Lankshear is a physical presence but also gets down the wing well. Doug Tharme wins things in the air and has a chant about having a massive head.

The third goal is Apter trickery, Carey vision and an easy finish for Beesley. The fourth is Beesley pulling back for Carey who finishes with precision before adding a very, very late last second close range fifth which ends with him dangling from the crossbar before having a selfie with a kid who runs on as the final whistle blows.

We also miss a penalty. We also hit the woodwork (possibly twice) and we show a good deal of quick, slick and urgent forward play.

It is good to watch. The sun even comes out a bit.

Critch turns down the chance for a fist pump at the end, mouthing 'no!!' with a wry look on his face I smile to myself and then curse myself for smiling at his devilishly charming impish ways. I'm going to have to get used to this aren't I?


It's only preseason and only an idiot (hi!) gets excited about preseason but there was an organisation and purpose about us that was missing at this stage last year. I remember watching us play Fylde and wondering what it was we were actually trying to do, where as here, we controlled almost the entire 90 minutes and every player knew what their function was.

I'd say I learned that our new players look decent, some of our kids look worth a risk and that Critchball 3.0 is more about controlling a game than the more reactive Critchball 1.0 and 2.0.

It means nothing though does it? I enjoyed it mind, that means something. To me at least.


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Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Cheers Jerry...

The best player we've had since...?

It barely registered at first.

Yates. Going.

Obviously. I've been preparing myself for this for months. It's not going to hurt... I won't let it.

He's been out the door since we went down. How could he not be? He's too good for this division.

We know this, because last time we were in it in that mask, virus, locked in, TV screen world, he slammed the ball home, flicked the ball home, slalomed between defenders and toe poked the ball home, took two deep breaths and rifled the ball home every other week.

He scored goals. He ran channels. He ran and he ran and he ran. He ran so hard he looked smaller at the end of games than he did at kick off.

Tap ins. Absolutely world class goals. A Stakhanovite level of work. Pictures of himself on the piss. What more could you want in your number 9?

Nothing. If you were to critique his game, it's maybe that at times he worked too hard. That you'd find him in central midfield or at full back. It's like scolding a dog for being too good a boy though. You just can't.

He was better than League 1. He was brilliant last year in the Championship too. The one shining hope in a season of woeful disappointment. Ok, he 'only' scored 14 goals but he was playing in a team that was functioning so poorly some weeks that you'd have to wonder if they were capable of coordinating getting off the bus and into their kit, let alone working together to create chances for the striker. Those 14 were easily worth 20 in a different side. 

An assassin. The high cheek boned sniper. Crouched on a rooftop, rifle in hand, sights trained. You could sometimes forget he was there. Working round the periphery. Then... Bang. Blood and bone and death. Deadly one shot Jerry.

It barely registered at first... I've steeled myself... but then, it was like a shot to the chest. Jerry. The lifeblood of this team. The heartbeat of the last 3 years. His feet drumming. Endlessly running. He's going? He's going. He's gone...

Collapsing to the floor. Holding the wound. It's registering now. It hurts now What the fuck do we do without Jerry? He's always there. He's the one you can always count on. The one who never lets you down.

When we got back in after Covid, in the Oxford game, the Yates goal was a moment of magic. He deserved the response of a crowd more than anyone.

That ridiculous piece of skill in the box away at Peterborough. Those two unreal runs that he finished in League 1. The ball to Madine in that give and go against PNE. The far post volleys last year, one with one foot and one with the other. You could go on and on. I've barely scratched the surface.

One of my favourite goals was the one against Blackburn when Critchley had left him out, suddenly going cold on him in his second season, preferring the more conventional bustle of Lavery. Injury brought Jerry on the pitch. Jerry had scored within what felt like seconds. It felt like what the entire ground felt about Jerry and Jerry being sidelined was underlined by the response. For everything Critchley achieved, it felt like a middle finger from something raw and unconstrained to the deputy headteacherly sensible approach.

He's no maverick wildcard though. He's a superb footballer. It's the control, the impudence, the bustling belief. Hundreds of players have the laddish swagger but very few have the humility to sweat every last drop in the cause. If (as was the rumour and rumours are, of course only rumours) Critchley did ever have any doubts about his professionalism because of a reputation for enjoying himself, I'd defy him to find a moment where anything ever showed on the pitch.

If he looked a little lightweight in his first season in the championship, he came back bulked up. If sometimes he struggled to lead a line, then show me another player who could drift into corners and pockets, who could take a ball and come out with it still in our possession, usually finding some ridiculously oblique angle and bit of deft skill to find a teammate. He was the one player who thrived under Appleton's tutelage, the faith shown in him giving him a visible confidence that he'd briefly lost at the end of Critchley's previous tenure. 

There was briefly, once, a rumbling sound as he placed a loose pass and someone pounced and scored. That someone can play 130+ games for a club and I can only think of one time the crowd even slightly got on his back at all says it all. We loved him. We loved him because he played like we would. If we weren't shit and unfit and we could have half a chance or our time again, we'd all be Jerry Yates, shifting the ball from one foot to another and trying outrageous things and soaking in the adulation when they came off. 

He tried as hard in his last games for us as he tried in his first games for us and in every single game since. His was a kind of elemental force. His presence seemed almost permanent. In the final games of last year, it was almost impossible to process that Jerry could miss games, that Jerry could even get injured...

Swansea might suit him if they carry on being a footballing side under Duff. I'm sort of sad it's not a bigger stage though. When you look back at football from the 80s and 90s you have to imagine Jerry would have been a top flight player. He lacks nothing but the sheer pace of the very best in the world game. He lacks nothing but the brute physique of the very best in the world game. Sadly for players like Jerry, the very best in the world game fill up our top division. He's as good as we've had for years. He's as good as most I've ever seen in tangerine. He's got time yet. 

He's never going to hobble over to the Kop again, his legs bandy from the effort, looking somehow scrawny and muscular at the same time. He'll never be bouncing and clapping kick off like everything in his week is focused on this moment now in the way everything in our week is focused on that moment now too... Our Jerry. He's a fucking monster energy drink of a player. He's Duracell. He's a golden talent in the body of some lad from the set of Kes. He'd be an absolute nightmare to be trapped in a lift with. He was our first and biggest favourite in a long time. After everything, we needed a hero. We needed someone to adore for nothing other than football. We got Jerry. 

He was fucking wonderful. 

He's gone though. It's finally registered fully...

It's the end of an era.

Only love can break your heart.

Raise a glass.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Jerry Yates: Blackpool's no 9

Swansea. Treat him well. Or else. 


Saturday, July 1, 2023

Feel good hit of the summer.

Critch is back. I've already ready written 2000 words about how I'm conflicted about it. I don't think the world needs any more. There'll  probably be some though. I mean, the world doesn't need this blog full stop but that's never held me back. Basically, he's a good football manager who made me happy but then he hurt my feelings. 

Maybe I should grow up. 

Perhaps I should reflect on the fact I'm numb to pretty much everything else and that football is the only place I actually allow myself to let go and emote. Why's that then? Is it me? Is it the world? Famine *shrug* The world heading towards inescapable calamity based on a heady mix of late era capitalism, environmental chaos and apathy *shit happens* Jordan Thorniley not getting a contract offer... WHAT THE FUCK??? SOMEONE SHOULD DO SOMETHING! 

Maybe I should think about how starting a blog with some slightly odd and very off topic psychoanalysis isn't recommended in any of those shit 'How to make a success of blogging' guides. 

Then again, are any of them the third best (of three) Blackpool FC based blog currently available online? 


They can fuck themselves with their recommendations to 'keep it pithy' and 'include content that the reader can digest quickly. Remember, your aim is numbers, so don't fall into the trap of long posts no one will reach the end of' 

I didn't get where I am today (on my couch in a house that is falling down a bit with a squeaky, creaky ten year old car outside) by following advice about being successful and achieving stuff. 

I might start life coaching. 

Kev's at a loose end. We could be a double act. 

New season. Same shite. Anyway. You don't not pay me to write with discipline do you? 

Mike Garritty is back. This is terrific news. Why? Many reasons. Such as... Critch is quite softly spoken. He needs Mike Garritty to shout stuff. Mike's main job last time was to make sure Jerry didn't drink any of those big cans of energy drink that look like beer cans before getting on the bus for away trips and to make sure the players didn't get lost when they stopped for a wee at the services. He's a key part in the Critchsaw (that's like jigsaw, but consists of bits and pieces Neil needs to put together to build a dream team.)

Ian Brunskill joins them. I don't know what Ian Brunskill does. I don't believe Ian Brunskill is actually who he says he is. To me, he has the vibe of a man who went bankrupt setting up a hipster coffee bar with some money from questionable  sources but overspent on lavish interior decorations and thus the project never reached opening day and sat in a partially finished state for months, with whitewashed windows testament to a broken dream. That's maybe unfair. I like to think he's in charge of diagrams and has lovely penmanship. I imagine he uses those wedge end flipchart/whiteboard markers and writes the players names in kind of calligraphy style. Which is a good skillset and nice to have around. 

Who needs playing experience eh? 

Systematically building a side is back. Gone is the 'lets loan anyone we can get our hands on and have the maximum number of flimsy ball players that all play in the same position that the laws of physics will allow' approach of last season. I'm confident I can assess this as an expert because on Football Manager it was always wise to get your defence sorted and make sure you have a bit of leadership and experience before bringing in the flair players. 

We've bought a old goalie who looks like Gaz who just needs to not be a disruptive influence because mostly, he'll sit on the bench and remind people of Gaz, a defender who is decent, a midfielder who might be a little bit creative and could become decent in the discipline of a Crutch project, and a midfielder who is actually decent already. 

We likely need a left back, some width, perhaps a striker and to replace anyone who leaves. Grimmy is a good keeper, Lyons and Gabriel are very good right backs, Pennington and Marv are very good centre halves, Connolly, Trybull, Dougall, Norwood, Morgan, Virtue and Carey offers a blend of midfield ability that crucially, combines some experience with some potential creativity and Yates (for now at least,) Lavery and Beesley aren't a bad combination if YTS Madine/Junior John Murphy can stay fit. 

At left back, Husband or Thompson could be mashed together into one player if we can find an experimental facility willing to overlook the ethical quibbles. I love Jimbo but he's had a patchy fitness record and never quite nailed down a place/position permanently. I think he's my club captain and the ideal capable back up for a couple of positions. Thommo is an interesting case. He's got attributes but he needs to harness them better. If Critch can get into his head, he could be decent. If he can't, he'll be gone. Neither of them scream 'nailed on first choice.' We could play Lyons there but in a battle of statements 'he's fucking right footed and a permanently inverted full back is mentalism' beats 'he played there for Shamrock Rovers' for me. Maybe I'm just old school. 

Wide, we've only really got Owen 'plays like Messi once every 15 games' Dale and CJ 'splits opinion' Hamilton. Again, you feel if you could combine their attributes, you'd have both an incredible player and an interesting legal precedent. I think both can play a part but neither I'd want to rely on to do the job that Kaikai in 20/21 or Bowler/Keshi in 21/22 did. Pace is always useful and Dale may yet find some consistent form but CJ is CJ and Dale just doesn't have the burst of speed you'd associate with a consistently devastating winger. I could be wrong. Apter is the most likely youth player to step up and I've liked what I've seen of him a lot. I think he'll get minutes (in fact, if he doesn't, I'd question why we've bothered with all the youth set up at all) but again, expecting him to perform week in week out seems a stretch. I think bringing in some quality width is key, especially as Critchley will usually set up with two combative midfielders and tends to allow more freedom to the wide men than he does to his central players. 

Up front, it's probably dreaming to think Jerry stays. Sad as it is, Jerry has nothing to prove anymore. He's better than us now. Lavery is a very handy player to have with Yates' likely departure and we shouldn't forget that Critch preferred his bustling style to Jerry's more nuanced approach numerous times. I can't make my mind up about Beesley. It's not fair to judge him on a couple of out of position games in an out of form side last season and I liked his style in the few flashes we saw the season before. I'm just not sure he's got the singular presence of Madine - who like him or not, was as essential to us as Bowler because, like Bowler, he was one of the few players who could be relied on to usually be the best player on the pitch at something (winning aerial balls was as handy in its own way as Bowler's dribbling or Marvin's last ditch tackles) 

I suspect we'll see a slight evolution of Critchball. I can't see us going to get a new Madine (i.e. any new striker will be less good at one thing but better at a wider range of things) and instead, I think we're likely to see more of a 3 man midfield with Carey or Morgan breaking to support the striker. I hope we do anyway. The movement and forward thinking style that Dobbie brought at the end of the season was both pleasing on the eye and made us look quite potent and though personnel has changed, I'd love to see us give something like that a go. 

Carey needs to play that more forward role to be the player I believe he is. He needs two ball winners behind him and a striker/wide players that will move around him and to be told to play football. I think we might see a totally different beast from the lad chasing shadows in a lost cause last year if we use him thus. 

I think if I summed up the squad, it would be that we look to have a core of admirable and relatively experienced players to do the dirty work. We're lacking a bit of magic. We're like a lighter without the flint, like a bomb without the charge. 

That's almost the polar opposite of last year where we had loads of dynamite but nothing to pack it in. We were like a box of fireworks left out in the rain. For all the explosive potential we had, we didn't offer that ability the right conditions to thrive and thus, we rarely exploded into life. 

We've lost Bowler, Anderson, Fiorini, Rogers, Patino and Poveda. That's a hell of a lot of technical quality and whilst not all those players always reached their potential, I'm not sure we've got anything like that ability through the door yet. If we add the likely loss of Yates, who is as technically brilliant as anyone in that list above, then I really hope we're scouring the earth for some proper players. 

You absolutely need your Callum Connolly and your Matty Virtue. These types of player are essential. Graft and fight are a must. The name 'luxury player' is a total misnomer though. We don't get promoted without Kaikai. We don't stay up without Bowler. You need the flighty, skillful genius who drifts in and out as well as the passion and playing for the badge and all that because otherwise, who are your ball winners winning the ball for? What is the fight going to achieve other than a fight? Skill, surprise and instinct are not luxuries. They're the difference. 

I'm not one for making demands like 'if we don't go up, it's a disgrace' - football is football is football. It's got a wonderful habit of destroying expectations and churning up the best laid plans. What I hope to see quite quickly, is a Blackpool side that play in the way we looked to play towards the end of the last promotion campaign where we balanced a very tight defence with a greater degree of intent than earlier in the season. We were well drilled and also capable of improvisation. Critchley is working from a significantly better base (in terms of having his own players) than when he walked through the door in 2020 so it seems reasonably fair to say he should be able to get us going quicker than last time around. 

I can feel the anticipation building. It all feels a bit, well, competent. It all feels as if there's a plan again. I might be projecting the memory of previous deeds onto the present day situation but for all a big part of me didn't want to go back to Critchley, now we have, I can't help but also recall how diligent, studious and focussed he is and the way his softly spoken, carefully worded manner masks an ice cold determination to win. I can't help but think about how he's got the brains to play a long game, to adapt what he does and to improve players. 

I think Critchley is extremely fortunate to be here in the sense that, a) Sadler could have told him to sling his hook and b) at no other club would he have the platform he has. 15 of the squad know him inside out. He's already done a good deal of the work in instilling his ethos. Appleton didn't have that. McCarthy didn't have that. Critchley at QPR didn't have that either. It's not easy to make a bunch of lads you don't know into a high functioning football unit and with the exception of Thompson and Trybull, Critchley knows or had a hand in signing every single player (Lyons was in the works when he was chatting to Stevie G(angster) on his burner phone in the bogs and fibbing to Mike that it was Janine who kept ringing him...)

I also suspect Critchley knows the above and will be even more thorough and determined than his day to day default meticulous attention to detail. My main hope is that he remembers that sometimes, a bit of freedom and joy is how you get the best out of players. A tactical masterclass is grand, but at times, you have to risk losing a little to win big.

I've nothing against the idea of a coaching team with no real football experience but I do think that it's possible to over coach a squad and I hope they find the balance. It's obviously bollocks to say that Calderwood or McCall were the real power behind the throne, but I really hope that someone in the coaching team has the instinctive ability to empathise with the players and occasionally steer a decision based on that. Data, planning and sport science are all essential but so is 'feel' and 'instinct' - the two are often presented as opposites - like it's a culture war between long ball, pie and chips, ten pints of lager, builders brew football and huel fueled, beard stroking, Ecuadorian coffee drinkimg, laptop lapsang suchong football. 

The simple truth is, it's all a blend. Sometimes you need someone to put their foot through it. Other times you need to retain possession. Sometimes the dossier of data will unlock the opposition, other times it will weigh down the players with too much information. Sometimes you can release a player with detailed video analysis and training programme that addresses their weaknesses and other times, it's the word you have in their ear at the right time that makes them believe. 

I think one of Critchley's most elite qualities is his ability to run a team - and that includes the management group. I just hope he has the right mix of voices with the right blend of perspectives. There's no meaningful playing experience amongst the coaches and there's no Keogh, Madine, Maxwell type figures either. It's not to say he hasn't got the right mix, but equally, that's the bit where I feel a degree of caution to my otherwise surprisingly unbridled optimism. 

A few weeks off has been good. Relegation is shit but only dickhead sky sports wankers turn their nose up at the prospect of a fight for promotion in this league. Fuck off and watch City and talk about 'next level exploitation of the dynamic half space' or something if you can't accept it. Football isn't actually all that different between the leagues and what hurt about last season was most of the teams we played were a bit shit. 

The default Championship side we played against was compact, good at winning the ball, strong and physical and often a bit shit at doing anything with possession. We just didn't compete in the middle of the pitch cos we were a bunch of waifs. That's what it boils down to. I don't recall seeing many feasts of football and most, if not all the sides who impressed me got promoted or came close. There was a load of shit in that league and yeah, that means going down is shite, but it also means there's not loads to miss either. 

The average opposition in this league might be a fraction more industrial or a bit more rugged  but it wasn't as if the championship was filled with sided who looked like Honved circa 1950 or 1970s Ajax was it? We're not going to be sadly filing out saying "oh, it's nice to win, but I just wish we could marvel at the footballing elegance of Hull City one more time" are we? 

In conclusion. Bring it on. Next season is the first step to winning the World Club Championship in 2027/28. Sonny is going to set the league on fire and that keeper will turn out to be the actual Gaz really and head us to glory from a Charle 'disguises his genius with a cloak of mundane averageness in the way a pigeon's beauty gets lost amidst their ubiquitous familiarity 'Kirk (our inevitable future) cross. 

Put your house on it*


*For fucks sake, don't! 

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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 ...