Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Friday, August 18, 2023

Shit Preview - the Mighty vs Leyton Orient.

It's possible to hold two ideas in your head at any one time.

Right now, I've got 'Critchley is a boring snaky snake whose idea of wild bacchanalian excess is a golf putting machine and a can of shandy who is going to stifle the hell out of any possible joy in an attempt to stubbornly force his ideas onto the squad regardless of the evidence of their strengths and the fact we've looked toothless for 75% of the games is testament to that' and I've also got 'Critchley is a tactically astute manager who will put the building of a system ahead of the immediate temptation to 'make the best out of what he's got' thus resulting in a more sustainable long term project and ultimately greater success and the fact we've already looked a million times more solid is testament to that' competing in my head. 

I don't know which is true or if part of both are true. Any manager of any club can be shit or good even if they were previously good (or shit.) Yeah, Pep is never shit but he just buys another set of great players and spouts pseudo philosophy in shit knitwear cos he knows that he's one for the mums and that's not what I want in a manager.

Frankly, I didn't want a bloke who looks like he manages a leisure centre in Wilmslow turning up with a petrol station bunch of flowers and a look of 'Sorry, what am I like? Can I come in?' on his face but (can I surprise you?) Simon Sandler (sic) doesn't ask me for advice. I know! You'd think he'd be on the phone all the time, but I guess he's got the Jontster and co.    

Anyway. I got over myself I'm trying to see it through Critchley's eyes. I'm being all grown up (even though I KEEP bringing it up in every blog suggesting that possibly I'm not over it even if I'm telling you I am. You'll have to be the judge of that, it's the privilege of readership, it's always easier to analyse others who aren't yourself innit?) 

What was I saying? Oh, Critch... It's not easy winning ALL the games of football. I don't know if you know this, but all the other teams have managers too and they're all plotting masterclasses and signing exciting players who've done badly on loan at Lincoln and even doing that running over cones thing that only footballers ever do for reasons no one knows. They practice stuff and everything. 

A season is a long stretch and the not knowing is what keeps it exciting. We don't know if Critch is going to work. We wouldn't know that any manager was going to work. Expectation and reality diverge and often there's fuck all we can do about it except speculate about what might happen and pointlessly discuss what we might do. 

What I (a shite blogger with no particular qualification to comment on, well, pretty much anything) think we need is this: 

1) A full back with the quality to get forward and join in. CJ is not doing it on purpose. He's just CJ. He works hard. He actually does ok if you don't put all your focus on the points where he obviously doesn't. The thing is, he's not a wrong footed wing back. He just isn't. That's a really hard role to play. If we're persisting with it (and the fact Thommo wasn't even on the bench last night for Port Vale would suggest so) then I think Lyons has the attributes to make it work, but CJ doesn't. Connolly can probably do a defensive job, but I'd be deeply concerned about what he'd add going forward. So, for me, that's the position that is clearly vacant. It's empty. There's no one who can realistically play it well going forward, at least until Gabriel comes back and we partially abandon it. 

2) Joseph to get fit so we can have two strikers harrying and running. We also probably need a big lad. Our lack of out ball is murdering us. We're not actually conceding many chances, but we're absorbing pressure because we can't hold a ball up. Lavery is a runner. Beesley isn't dominant or fast. He's kind of damned by being 'reasonable' but not really definitively anything. He'll do a job of sorts. Like Lyons he can grow into a role. I've not seen enough of him to be sure he can't. Ideally though, we'd have someone brutal to get on the end of things and disrupt at least as an option in the squad. I'm not even messing when I say, I'd keep Doug Tharme on the bench with the idea of chucking him on up front in lieu of anything else. 

3) Some risk. Here, I am again, a fucking prick who changes his mind every other article trying to tell Neil 'withandwithouttheball' Critchley what to do. The front of it! The sheer lunacy of me thinking I know anything. I should be shot. At dawn. Left in an unmarked grave, dug up by dogs, eaten, shat out, washed away by the rain into the gutter, falling into the sewers and then out into the depths of the oceans to give some swimmer e coli...  and even that's not good enough for me.... but... 

I genuinely don't care if we concede a goal in the act of attempting to score a goal. I think Critchley is right about the squad needing to get used to new things and shake off the negative vibes of last year. I also think they need to learn to enjoy themselves again. To enjoy football  (unless you're a defender) you have to play with some instinct and relish the challenge of unlocking the opponents. That's the fun. It's literally the point. To score a goal. 

I know it's ludicrously simplistic but if (and however unlikely that would be) I was the manager on Saturday, my approach would be to say 'I don't care if you come back having lost, I don't want you back in the dressing room if you've not taken a risk to get us up the pitch and in on goal... Not you though Marvin... Definitely not you.' 

For me, that includes the speed with which Grimmy throws out, the way the defenders run into the space in front of them, the midfielders not running to offer an extra man, the wing backs positioning and so on. 

If we're going to get anywhere, it has to be at least a little bit this way. He's not stupid. Far from it. He knows it. He knows that bawling them out after Tuesday would serve no purpose. other than to risk their fragile confidence gained from the clean sheets He knows we need to be quicker. He knows that we need a bit of fearlessness. How can he not?  

This is where fans have to decide what they want. you can sit on the sidelines and critique every mistake and point our what a player 'should have done' after something has gone wrong - but generally, in order to break down the kind of side we'll face over and over again - tough, physical, well drilled, men behind the ball, you need someone to try and dribble or hit a risky pass or try a shot. If we want that, we've got to support the intent, even when the execution is off. These players are not full of confidence. There's quite a high proportion of water carriers amongst them. The manager is possibly a little bruised from his experiences last season. It's a natural human inclination to avoid doing things which might lead to criticism. To play the safe pass. To not make the run yourself. Over to someone else. Sideways, sideways. Pass. Sideways. 

It's like we're knocking politely on the opposition door and being told 'no thanks, not today' and then retreating into our own half waiting for tomorrow to ask again. It's patient, yes, but it's also exactly what a lot of teams would like us to do at home (and perhaps away at times) because a point is a point and we're a bigger fish now. 

Critch is Critch is Critch.

Can we just enjoy football? If it's boring as fuck again can we ole Jimmy to Marv to Casey to Norburn to Casey to Grimmy to Norburn to Jimmy to Casey (etc) and cheer wildly whenever it ends up with Grimmy putting his foot through it?  Can we appreciate Matty Virtue burrowing through and then slipping as he shoots because at least he tried? Can we make Bees feel like ten men cos he's the nearest we've got to one and half men? Can we fucking chant Jimmy Husband's name because he's been one of our best players this season probably and he's played hundreds of games for us and never shirks or lets up? 

I know we need new players, I know the summer nights are starting to draw in and autumn is standing in the shadows with a cloak of darkness and decay. I know life is often grey and we want colour and joy from our football, but hey. This is League One. Sometimes you just have to make your own fun.

To take a productive risk you need to feel safe.

Get behind them. They're ours. 

Leyton Orient. I dunno. Barry Hearn, Clapham Orient. Richard Wellens. I always liked Wellens despite him being a panto villain these days. We could really use him now in midfield (even though we've got 800 players for that position.) I've nothing more to say on them really other than it's weird how they're a London club but they've never been bought out by some investment fund. They must look at someone like Brentford and think 'fucking hell, what have they got that we haven't got? - How come we got fucked over and they got the Premier League?' 

I always assume every London club is just a heartbeat away from being bought by a Texan or Saudi billionaire and building a 75,000 seater stadium. I really like that Leyton Orient is just about the opposite of that. Every time I go to London, I'm always a bit taken aback that actual people live there who aren't supermodels or investment bankers and bits of it aren't that good and are kind of like Blackpool (or indeed Layton) with a tube station. They're kind of the Port Vale of London so to speak and again, I'm good with that. 

Why are they called Orient* though? It's another good thing about them. Aston Villa (what villa? whose villa?), Billingham Synthonia (it's an ICI product). Castleton Gabriels (angels?), Blackpool Mechanics (are they still mechanics?). Oswaltwhistle Immanuelle (ok, they're a cricket club, but it's still a good name) and so on - I love a club with a weird name. When football inevitably collapses in on itself into a league of global franchises then there won't be a fraction of the poetry in names like 'London Lions' and 'Riyadh Royals' 

Give them hell. They're not ours. 

Blackpool 27-0 Leyton Orient


*It's because the O from off of P+O Ferries (the 'Orient Shipping Company' which would later merge to become Penninsular and Orient Steam Company) was partly behind their origins financially. So, in a way it's very modern. It's like a team starting up in a random place and being called 'Peckham Uber' or something. We'd probably all get well het up about that and how it wasn't traditional. Goes to show. What I'm not sure... 

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