In what is best politely described as a tedious press conference earlier today at Stadium MK, celebrated Franchise despondent Ed Upson explained how he really struggles when lovely white snow turns to dirty, nasty slush.
“May you live in interesting times” (Chinese proverb)
It’s been an interesting ride so far hasn’t it? Life as a supporter of the Milton Keynes Dons very rarely offers much in the way of mid-table obscurity, or anything that could be described as being even remotely run of the mill.
This might go on a bit, so apologies and all that, but there’s nothing on the telly, so what else are you going to do? I should also say that if you’re of a delicate nature and don’t like the idea of criticism, this might not be the best thread for you to read – what I should state for the record is that I’m clearly not talking about you. I know you’re ok and able to take criticism appropriately. It’s the others. Ok? 😉
With the usual apologies to the fans who followed the club up from London, as a new club, there are some things that we’re not very good at. That isn’t all that surprising I guess, but it does help to sometimes spell it out – there are situations that are either new to us or that we have only encountered once or twice before. That’s true at pretty much every level of the club, from the chairman to the supporters and in those situations it can be difficult to know what to do or how to react.
One of the issues is that as supporters, we often have trouble accepting that there isn’t actually anything that we should do. One of the symptoms of our relative newness is the lack of a steadying hand at the core of the support, who might share the frustrations of the more reactive members of the support, but who’ve been there and seen it many times before and know that firstly it’s just part of football, secondly, that it’s someone else’s job to sort it out and thirdly that we have a different role to play here.
There’s a fundamental difference between those who have a bit of a whinge and a moan and those who expect their whinging and moaning to have an outcome. The big difference is that those who expect to have an influence can end up working against the best interests of the club, often without even realising it. Now I know YOU mean well – I really do (though I’m not sure about some of the people who sit near you – they worry me) but it’s worth stopping for a moment and clearing up what I see our respective jobs are in this:
That it’s not their responsibility doesn’t mean that supporters shouldn’t sometimes express their opinions on the above, but the significant point is that they shouldn’t expect their opinions to be taken seriously in any way at all. Like it or not, none of us know how to manage a football club. I’ll repeat that slowly. None – of – us – know – how – to – manage – a – football – club. Your opinion is just that – an opinion, and an uninformed one at that – you being taken seriously about stuff just because you’re angry doesn’t help anyone and in the long run it just makes everyone’s job harder. There are extreme situations where the supporters could and possibly should have a part to play in the above, but we are not, and have never been in any of those situations. The fans of Blackpool and Coventry to give just a couple of recent examples would give anything to just have to deal with the issues that some of our lot are so hot under the collar about.
One of the issues with expecting supporter opinions about the team or the manager or the chairman to be acted upon is that extreme reactions become just a normal occurrence and they lose the impact they should have, leaving just a general sense of unpleasantness around the place. Take yesterday’s game against Charlton and the fact that the players were booed off at half time for example. Now I recognise that it was a terrible half of football – truly awful – but the previous manager has already been sacked and the new guy is trying to find a way to get results from what he’s inherited. What do you think that booing his team off is going to do, and how can that possibly have anything other than a detrimental effect on the manager and the players? The gaffer makes some changes, we had a better second half, but still lost and at the end of the game there’s booing and chants that the players aren’t fit to wear the shirt. Where is that leading to, and in what way could it possibly help?
The calls for Neilson’s head have now changed in some quarters to calls for McCiccie’s head (after 5 games? lol) or calls for Winkelman’s head (be very careful what you wish for) and it’s all getting a little ridiculous. Other clubs have dealt with and continue to deal with far more than this – we should really count our blessings at times. So take a deep breath, count to ten and get behind the team, the manager and the chairman.
I often hear that because they pay their money, people have the right to express their dissatisfaction in any way they choose. I’d argue that it really isn’t much of a response, doesn’t stand up to any scrutiny and it’s time it was challenged. We all have the theoretical right to do many things, but generally we don’t do them because it’s either unpleasant, unwise or just wrong. What you don’t have the right to do is express your dissatisfaction in any way you choose without being criticised for it – that’s how freedom of speech and expression works, and just in case of doubt, I criticise you for it. Yes you!
If you think there are players out there who aren’t trying their best for the club, and that somehow your football experience allows you to see this, but that the manager and coaching staff somehow aren’t as clever as you and have therefore missed it, do you have any idea what that makes you? To avoid any confusion, let me make it really clear – it makes you part of the problem, not part of the solution. If you think you’re helping, then you’re wrong. If you think you’re somehow acting in the best interests of the club or the supporters, then you’re wrong. Just an opinion of course, but I’m entitled to that aren’t I? 😉 Take a deep breath and count to ten, then get behind the team, the manager and the chairman.
The need to ‘do something’ throws up some odd suggestions – I saw one yesterday that we should all now apparently support the team but not support anything that would go to any of Winkie’s other businesses. It’s the sort of presumably well-meaning but poorly-thought out suggestion that comes up at every club in difficult times. (The other businesses keep the club going by underwriting its losses, so you can’t harm that without harming the club if you’re a detail sort of person.) Take a deep breath and count to ten, then get behind the team, the manager and the chairman.
If you’re the sort to be doing the ‘I’m going and I’m not coming back’ sort of pouting, then (prepare yourself for this) please just do it quietly and let the rest of us get on with supporting the club. Fans come and go at every club, and if coming to support this club isn’t for you anymore, then it’s a shame and all that, but we’ll cope without you. If my experience is anything to go by, once you’ve had a break you’ll get a different perspective on it and you’ll be back and enjoying it again, but the more you build it up now the harder that will be. Either way, either go quietly or take a deep breath and count to ten, then get behind the team, the manager and the chairman.
It’s a difficult situation for any manager, particularly one staring relegation in the face, but I’d really like to see him show a bit of honesty right now. Personally, I’d give anything to hear him say “the fans who get behind us, they’ve been fantastic, but those who boo and those who only seem to get on the players backs, I’d really appreciate it if they didn’t come back, at least for a while – we’re in a difficult enough situation without the players feeling pressure from their own supporters”.
Shankly said it best “If you can’t support us when we’re drawing or losing, then don’t bother supporting us when we’re winning”.
Not the responsibility of the Chairman
Winkie has created something of a rod for his own back in recent years. His openness, his optimism, his connection to the supporters and his willingness to accept he’s made mistakes are all things that we’ve rightly hailed as being real positives. Right now those things are coming back to haunt him, and he’s going to have to accept that he can’t please all the people all of the time
His sacking of Robinson and Neilson following fan pressure has created an environment where there is an expectation that fan pressure will lead to him acting, and he needs to make it clear that isn’t going to always be the case. His defence of fans rights to behave in whatever way they choose towards players, manager and himself has made it difficult for him to exercise control if that gets out of hand. When Ince said that we didn’t need the sort of fans who booed him off against Oldham in our club, Winkie should have agreed with him, not sacked him. He should still have sacked him of course, but not for that.
His suggestion that we should be vying for promotion this season has been called ‘lies’ by some elements of the fanbase. It’s ok to upset some people Pete – it really is. The majority would understand.
There ought to be a point in all of this, so let me see if I can make one. I urge every one of you to get behind the team, get behind the manager and get behind the chairman. If those around you aren’t of a mind to join in, then so be it, but don’t get caught up in all the negativity, however tempting it is to do so. You can’t control anyone else (although it’s fun to try sometimes – people really hate it) but you can control you.
If we get relegated, as looks likely, then so be it. It’s part of football, we’ve been there before and we’ll go there again. It’s not pleasant, but in the wider scheme of things, it’s just a bend in the road. Take a deep breath and count to ten, then get behind the team, the manager and the chairman.
Come on you Dons!
If you include the caretakers, we’ve had ten managers since the Dons moved to Milton Keynes in 2003. With the possible exception of Winkie’s fashion sense, there has been just one consistent feature throughout all of those managers tenure, and that is Dean Lewington. In an age where the idea of a one-club player is pretty much unheard of, Lewie has bucked the trend and shown a level of loyalty that we’ll probably never see again.
Now I understand that the manager has to be in charge of the team. If he thinks that Lewie isn’t good enough to play in his team, then he has to be able to make that call and he deserves to be supported by staff and fans alike. Whether that’s the right decision from a footballing perspective remains to be seen, and it’s for Winkie to decide whether the less than solid defensive performances that are being delivered are acceptable or not.
What’s come to light in recent days though is something different. It’s bigger than the team and bigger than any single manager – it’s about the club itself and the lack of awareness of that from Neilson and the wider club at the moment is showing naivety in the extreme. When Neilson has moved onwards and upwards/downwards, this club and its supporters will still be here, and how we as a club treat those who’ve given such service will live on and will define what we stand for as we move forwards.
To have ended up with our longest serving player, our club captain, and to be brutally honest, the man who embodies this club more than perhaps any other person, for Lewie to have ended up having to train with another club, without any form of explanation to the fanbase, is simply not acceptable. No ifs or buts. It’s not acceptable and it’s not how we do things here, or at least it hasn’t been up to now.
The silence in the face of such a significant relationship breakdown does not reflect well on the Manager, and the lack of explanation from the board looks very poor on them too. This is not going to just go away – the vacuum is being filled with rumours and speculation, it’s dividing the support and increasing pressure on the players and manager at a time when they could really do with everyone’s full support. Most of all though, this is just not an appropriate way to deal with someone who’s given so much to this club.
To have described the situation in the casual manner that Neilson did on 3CR on Saturday and to not have mentioned that Lewie wasn’t even able to train with us is frankly appalling, and has lost him the support of many who understand what Lewie means to this club. If Neilson isn’t prepared to let the fans know what’s happening, (and he had his chance on Saturday), then Winkie is going to have to step up and do so – so Winkie – please either explain what’s happened with Lewie, with Mike Dove and anything else that’s going on behind the scenes, and look to undo some of the damage that’s been caused, or hold your manager to account.
Just a couple of points from me in the run up to the trip to Kingston.
First of all, while I completely understand the many reasons why a lot of our usual away travellers will be giving this one a miss, I’d urge you to think again. Not going to a match is a difficult choice to make, and I know it won’t have been made without a lot of thought, but I would ask you to consider it once more.
Recent announcements by those supposedly in positions of responsibility within that club, combined with the disgraceful way that Robbo was treated there recently give a clue to the level of hostility that we as fans are likely to be met with by members of their staff. If there’s anyone left in the football world who still believes the myth that they are some sort of family friendly club, and club that acts in a way that others should aspire to, well it’s safe to say that these events should have put paid to it once and for all.
In any organisation, you will find individuals who are bad eggs, and football is no different. What shows the character of any organisation is how they respond to their own bad eggs, and the Kingston lot have repeatedly shown that they are fully supportive of, and even proud of, the people in their fold who act in ways that would be considered abhorrent in any normal civilised environment. The fact that our fans and club representatives have to enter the ground under police protection to provide protection from their fans shows just how out of control they are as a club, and they should be ashamed of themselves.
We’ve seen enough to know that they will feel no shame though, as they have managed to reach a point where they believe that any behaviour towards us is acceptable. Sorry Kingston, but that makes you nothing more than a bunch of thugs, and you’re everything that’s wrong with the game.
So why am I asking those of you who have chosen not to attend to reconsider? Purely because I’d love to see as close to our usual away crowd attending as possible – our genuinely family friendly crowd, who’ve been there and seen it all, who aren’t likely to rise to any provocation from Kingston staff on the day. I’d love there to be laughter, and piss-taking and pride in everything that we’ve done together over the years, and the less of you who attend, the less representative the crowd on the night will be.
So do me a favour – if you’re currently in the ‘no’ camp, then give it another thought.
My second point concerns those who are going.
My guess is that we’ll face a pretty hostile reception from both fans and staff. Fans we expect to be hostile, and we’re used to it. Staff we don’t expect to be hostile (and shouldn’t have to) and we’re not used to it, so it could be odd to say the least. I would encourage you to shrug off any attempts to provoke you into some form of response, laugh at them and get on with supporting the Dons. I would suggest that if possible, you capture any attempts by their stewards or other staff to provoke a reaction on camera, but don’t rise to it. This game means everything to them, and in the wider scheme of things, nothing to us.
It’s a nothing game, with a nothing club, who are desperate to turn it into something, because without us, they’re nothing.
Don’t give them the satisfaction.
Come on you Dons.
The Armitage Shanks Memorial Clock
It has been:
since anyone took a crap on the floor in the Boycott End
Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? It’s been a while since we had a visit from the Kingston lot, as you can see from the clock above. It should be pointed out that the clock wasn’t reset after their last visit, as apparently the handful they bought with them for the JPT match were actually toilet-trained. The cleaning firms of Milton Keynes are obviously hoping for a return to form this time, however the rest of us are hoping for a more civilised visit – we’ll keep you posted, and if needs be, we’ll reset the clock.
It can’t be easy for the Kingston lot when they have to play us. Hidden somewhere in the depths of that club, I’m pretty certain that there are some principled people who will never have anything to do with us. I presume that they are also the people who with good conscience asked supporters of other clubs to boycott games against us for many years. Obviously over the years the number of people who paid any attention to boycott calls diminished dramatically – more away fans generally visit us than visit any other club in our division – but even now, long after the calls for a boycott stopped, a very small number of supporters of other clubs still won’t visit us.
What must it have been like for those principled people, both within Kingston and other clubs, when the Kingston lot first had a chance to show their support for all those who had boycotted in the past? As the ticket sales increased for that first game, even offers to buy back tickets fell on deaf ears, and eventually they bought more than four times their usual away gate. The hypocrisy still amazes me.
The next attempt to save some dignity was to ask all their fans not to spend any money while in the stadium. I felt sorry for the handful of individuals standing by the massed queues at the food concessions, asking people not to spend money and being routinely ignored, as receipts for programme and food sales for a crowd of that size testify. That they crapped on the floor as well was presumably a disappointment, though that’s never been acknowledged.
The most hypocritical, ‘shoot yourself in the foot’ series of acts that I can imagine – I still can’t believe they came.
They’ve been here a couple of times since then, with dwindling away support each time, though that is apparently going to be back up to about 2,000 this time, which is around three times their average away support. Again the papers are full of stories of boycotts, and food boycotts – it will be interesting to see how principled they are this time. Thanks for the money anyway – it’s much appreciated.
So what do you do as a club, if you’re almost entirely defined by your issues with the bastard cousins 60 miles up the road, and your own fans let you down so badly? I’d say that you concentrate on the football, and that’s what they’ve done – they deserve credit for what they’ve achieved on the pitch. They’re now in the same division as us, and they’re currently sitting comfortably above us. They also deserve credit for the ‘just another game’ approach that they’re taking officially in the media, which is in marked contrast to previous games. The usual individuals are still looking to milk the media for all they’re worth, but it would appear that the club itself has learned from their dwindling public support and is sitting back for now. Whether they keep it up will be interesting too.
I don’t prescribe to the ‘just another game’ viewpoint – to me it’s an important game from a footballing rivalry perspective, and I’d like to win it. (Football rivalry it is though – having brought so many people the first time, any pretence that it is anything else has long gone.) In terms of the match, current form suggests that we’re likely to get a bit of a kicking, but games like these can be hard to predict. We’ve got a new boss, and we’re not quite as bad a side as our results suggest.
To Robbie, welcome on board, and a quick suggestion. If you’re looking for a way to establish which of our squad has what it takes to take us forwards, then this is it. If the players aren’t up for this, if they don’t get the importance of this, then there are no further questions to ask. Get rid and play some of the kids who’ll fight for us.
To the fans, just turn up, thank them for their money, sing loud, laugh at their banners/planes/boycotts/toilet habits and win, lose or draw, be proud of all we’ve achieved.
Come on you Dons.
Back in the mid-80’s, Primal Scream weren’t the tripped-out ecstacy heads than made Screamadelica. No. What they were was a poor man’s MC5, churning out sub-stones nonsense to a Britain that couldn’t care less.They slogged around the toilet sized gig circuit, playing their Detroit infused boogie to basically themselves and their mates. And even their mates weren’t all that interested.
Anyroad. One evening in ’86, they found themselves in Leeds. No one in Leeds really gave a shit. It was a poorly attend gig, and no doubt The Primals were rubbish.
However. As they shambled onstage that night, something had changed. Bobby looked immaculate. Beautiful. Drop-dead cool from the floor up. Winkle-pickers, leather trousers, black n’ white striped long-sleeved tee, Raybans and a bowcut.
They’d played a few turgid numbers, when between songs someone shouted “You’re shit”. Bobby, without breaking stride, leaned into the mic, and quite simply said “underachiever” in the hecklers general direction. Quite possibly the greatest put-down in rock n’ roll ever.
I’d love to say that was the turning point in rock history, but no. They remained shit for another three years, and then they discovered acid house, and the rest…. Well, you know what happened next. But at that particular moment, it was perfect. Shut the loudmouth twat up, and hopefully made him feel a tad foolish in the process.
But what’s this got to do with MK Dons I almost hear you cry? Well more of that later.
It was with tremendous sadness that I heard of Krobbo’s sacking last Sunday afternoon (and let’s not play semantics here, he was sacked). I was genuinely moved. And those that know me will attest to how unusual that must’ve been. Certainly felt a bit strange from where I was sitting. Which was watching Rangers v Celtic. Also more of which later. But like I said, cynical old Gers, feeling something for someone else. Weird! Obviously his sacking wasn’t unexpected, but just filled me with a general feeling of sadness. I’ve had a bit of a turgid year, and this just seemed like yet another shit thing that 2016 insisted on throwing my way.
Over and above everything else that surrounded his departure, what’s actually at the heart of it is a nice guy has lost his job. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him on numerous occasions, and it was always a pleasure. He was engaging, interested in what you were saying, always appeared to be listening to you, and most importantly went to great lengths to try and make you understand his point of view. Obviously he could occasionally be an idiot, like the time he tried to convince me that Neil Lennon was actually a human being, and not the hobbit sized creature that he actually is. But that apart, Krobbo’s a nice guy, who’s just lost his job.
The meeting that I remember with fondness is somewhat of a incongruous event. My wife and son insisted that I’d ‘really like’ Hairspray The Musical, which was playing at the theatre in central MK. They were obviously confusing my love of John Waters with my love of Tarantino, because the version I witnessed that evening bore little relation to the Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry indie movie I loved. I endured it, and breathed a sigh of relief when the final curtain came down. As we were walking out, a felt a tap on my shoulder. Turned around, and it was Krobbo.
“Alright mate, enjoy that?”.
“Err, yeah. I suppose. Didn’t have you down as a lover of musical theatre”
We had a chat as we walked out, he shook my son’s hand, had a chat with him. And off into the evening we went.
Now, he didn’t need to do that. And if I’m being honest I doubt he’d even remember it. But I do. And it’s a mark of the man that he did it. He was having an evening out with his family. As I was. But he did do it, and I’ll never forget it.
We, unlike Mr Brando, did have him as a guest on our radio show. We asked him one question, and 50mins later he’d answered. In actual fact it was difficult to get him to shut up. As mentioned elsewhere, we took the piss out if him in the fanzine. We took the piss out of him on the podcast. We took the piss out of him on-line. Basically we just took the piss. But he always seemed to take it in the spirit in which it was intended. Piss takingley.
As most of you that follow these blogs know, I no longer see fit to give my hard earned to the Winkleman estate. I’ve beaten around the bush concerning the reasons, but over the last few days I’ve come to realise that the main reason is the support. I’ve subconsciously come to the conclusion that I no longer want to be associated with the sort of people who’d hound someone out of their job for fun.
Now, you know there ain’t no devil, that’s just God when he’s drunk. But if there is a devil, I really hope that he’s reserved a circle of hell especially for certain members of an online MK forum. And within that circle, I really hope he’s reserved a special place for the poster who thought it was a laugh to conduct a campaign against Krobbo. Thinking it was a laugh to put online polls up asking if he should be sacked. Putting more polls up asking who should replace him. Before he’d even been sacked. But most of all just doing it because he thought it was funny. A bully is a bully. Whether he’s pushing you down some steps and nicking your dinner money. Or waging a comedy campaign against you online. And that’s the sort of person I’d rather not share air with.
But he wasn’t the only one. In-fact far from it. Obviously I wasn’t at the Southend game, but I did see a video of The Cowshed singing that Krobbo should go. And do you know what I wish Robbo had done as he walked off for the final time to a chorus of boos? Turned around and merely mouthed “underachievers”…
Though I was hoping that he’d be given more time to turn the current run of results around, it wasn’t to be, and as of this afternoon, Robbo has left the club. There’ll be lots of opportunities to look forward, and talk about what happens next, but for now I just want to take a few minutes to look back on the past six years or so.
When Robbo took over as boss, he was not the fans favourite for the job. There were strong expectations that Winkie would be looking for another high profile appointment to follow Allen, Ince, DiMatteo and Ince. On the day that the negotiations were taking place, I was asked for my opinion by someone within the club who was trying to sound out what the fans reaction was likely to be if he was appointed. My response at the time was “if you’re looking for a safe pair of hands, then he’d be great, but if you’re looking for the dynamic guy who is going to get us promoted, then he’s not your man”. Six and a half years on, I’m comfortable that he turned out to be both.
It’s been an amazing journey – it really has. There’s so many fans at so many clubs that would have given their right arm to have had half of the experiences that we’ve had over the past six years, and it’s worth picking out a few highlights. We’ve had playoffs followed by playoffs followed by nearly playoffs then 10th then automatic promotion then relegation. The season we finished 10th was the closest we’ve ever come to the mid-table obscurity that is the bread and butter of the majority of football clubs.
We’ve had cup exploits that will live for many years in the hearts of everyone who was lucky enough to witness them. I’ve watched live football for more than 40 years, and I’ve never experienced excitement to match the Heel of God. Everything to do with that game, from the way Robbo approached the press activity in the run up to the match, to the respectful way that he dealt with the victory afterwards, it all showed the class of the man.
Walking in to the Man Utd match and seeing the stadium full will live with me forever, but what will last longer was the way that Robbo approached the game. No respect was shown to one of football’s greats – instead we went out and played OUR football, and god we were magnificent. That 4-0 is still talked about wherever I go in the world and the conversation turns to football, because the whole of the footballing world say what we could do that night.
And that wasn’t a one-off. The football that we’ve played at times has been sublime, and I feel genuinely privileged to have watched it. That’s been made particularly special where it’s played by players who have come through our academy, playing the style of football that Robbo insisted on. Dele Alli gets most of the headlines, but there are many more who’ve come through the ranks, and will continue to make their mark on the game in the years to come.
It’s the off-pitch stuff that matters most to me though, because that provides the foundation that as a club, we’re still building, and the work that Robinson has done there cannot be overestimated. When we have fans forums, he’s there, fielding questions from disgruntled fans, and providing honest responses. He does not have to do that, and most managers, at most clubs, would not do it. There are stories everywhere around the club about times when he’s gone over and above to help people, to work with charities and when he’s generally been a damn good guy. He’s immersed himself into the life of our community and he’s going to be sorely missed.
There are still other moments that will live for me for years – I’ve talked at length before about the MKDSA 10th anniversary do – see here if you need reminding, but there’s another moment that I look back on with great fondness. It was at a fans forum, in the run up to the Kingston match. I couldn’t be there in person, and I was listening at home on the radio, and there was a point where Robbo said “the players and I understand that, however important this game is to us, it’s not about us, it’s about the fans. We know how important this game is for you”. I was jumping round my kitchen shouting “he gets it – he actually fucking gets it!” and he genuinely did. He got it and he got us.
If it sounds like I’m trying to deify him, then rest assured that he’s driven me crazy at times. We started the ‘Different Class’ fanzine (copies still available if we can remember whose garage they’re slowly rotting in) precisely because we were pissed off with his repeated use of that phrase to describe things that we felt were somewhat less so. And he read it and laughed along anyway. We took the piss out of him regularly on the radio show, and we came so close to getting him into the studio so we could do it live on more than one occasion. He got it. And he got us.
And that’s where it leaves a sour taste in my mouth in terms of how it’s all come to an abrupt and unpleasant end. I don’t think there is a person alive who understands what it’s been like to be a supporter of this club over the past 12 years or so better than Karl Robinson. And I don’t believe there’s a person alive who’s put more into bringing us together as fans, and bringing the club and fanbase together as one.
For the record, I’d say that those of you who so publicly turned on Robbo have a lot to answer for. Whether he was still the right guy to lead us on is neither here nor there, and you are of course entitled to your opinion on that, as with anything else. What you’re not entitled to is to have those opinions respected, and you’re certainly not entitled to have them accepted without challenge.
If you think that the man who’s given everything he could give to this club for so long deserved to leave with boos ringing in his ears, then I’d suggest that you’re just plain wrong. I’m ashamed of us as a club and a fanbase for that, and I hope you feel some shame yourselves. Sadly, I expect that your deluded sense of entitlement will allow you to justify your actions, but please be aware that there’s a lot of people judging you for it right now. He deserved better. You tossers.
We’re so spoilt as a fanbase, and I hope we don’t find out too soon just how spoilt we’ve been. Things certainly weren’t going right on the pitch, but that is no excuse for the way that we’ve allowed it to come to an end. I’d like to think that Karl could have turned it round, but we’ll never know. For those of you who are so desperate for us to be accepted as a ‘proper’ club, congratulations – we’ve just taken another massive step towards being just like everyone else.
Come On You Dons!
Brexit is good for the exchange rate.
What do you want from your football club? Serious question, and one that we all need to be asking ourselves right now, because a selection of our fanbase are currently in danger of forcing Winkie into a decision that we would come to regret in years to come.
There’s been a minority of fans calling for Robbo’s head for a while, and with each home game that doesn’t bring a win, that minority appears to be growing. I think Winkie can comfortably ignore it for now, but it it continues to grow, then he may be forced to act.
If you’re currently one of the booing contingent, or if you’re considering joining them in their campaign to have Robbo removed, I’d ask you to consider a few things.
I’m not going to ask you to consider whether our situation is really that bad – you know that we’re three points off a playoff spot and three points off of a relegation space, and you know that we’ve won three of our last five matches in all competitions.
I’m not going to ask you to consider whether a change in manager is likely to bring about a positive change – you already know that the majority of managerial changes bring nothing more than a temporary uplift, and that the money it would cost to remove Robbo and bring in a new boss would make a significant dent in the funds available for the playing squad.
I’m not even going to ask you to consider whether a new manager would be able to do anything at all right now – you know the transfer window doesn’t open for a couple of months, and that the option to bring in loans is no longer available.
I’m going to ask you to consider these:
Whatever you might think of the way we’re playing, our current league position, or our lack of wins at home since March, Robbo gets us. He understands the club, he understands the fanbase and he loves it here.
The last one in the list is the most telling one for me – at the SA 10th anniversary party, Robbo, Winkie, Andrew Cullen, Lewie and a few others came along. As you might expect, Winkie, Andrew Cullen, Lewie and the others stayed a respectful amount of time then made their excuses and left. Robbo was different. He bought his family, they stayed right to the end of the night, and at the end of the evening, he went round the room shaking hands with everyone and saying goodnight. That’s bloody amazing. That’s commitment. That’s genuinely unique. Whatever is happening right now, I genuinely do not believe that there is another manager in the country who would do that.
Whoever we would get in would not get us in the way that he does, and that means something to me. I hope it means something to you, and that you get behind him and the team and see us through this difficult patch.
And we’re back!
Following what has now become our online fanbase’s traditional summertime meltdown about the volume/quality/timing/height/weight/aroma (delete as applicable, so just tick the lot) of our summer signings, it was nice to finally get all of the crap out of the way and actually play some football. Fortunately, the summer furore seemed to have been a little unnecessary and we were able to put out a full team, and even have some left over to sit on the bench.
A beautiful sunny day, a good turnout (601 from us) an ok atmosphere and great company. I alway love the first day of the season – there’s a point, right up to kickoff, and perhaps for ten or fifteen minutes after it, where anything is possible. While you know that there are aways better prepared teams, better financed teams and just better teams, before a ball has been kicked, there’s always the possibility that ‘this could be our season.’ Within ten minutes of the first ball being kicked, the majority of the country have settled back into the familiar realisation that this is absolutely not going to be their season, but up to that point, we can all pretend otherwise.
So what to say about us. At times we looked very strong – the first 20 minutes looked like men against boys, though we actually created little of note. Shrewsbury came into the match more as it went on, but were defending very deeply, which made it difficult for them to create much. They did create more as the match went on, and on another day may have grabbed a goal, but I can see Shrewsbury struggling this season. Once the goal came, and we knew that it would, it was all over, and both the home team and fans knew it.
Our current starting lineup is looking OK. A bit early to say too much more, but I’d say that with a few additions we’d be looking very strong. Personal highlights would be Ed Upson’s set pieces and the consistent threat of Daniel Powell – great goal too. Honourable mentions to George Baldock and Joe Walsh too. Strength in depth is the concern if we’re looking to push at the top end of the table, as we simply don’t have it right now. Hoping that Samir’s injury isn’t too serious.
Nice stadium, friendly stewards, fans who made a bit of an effort for most of the game, cheap grub and drinks, good pub beforehand, good chatting to Shrews – generally a great day out.
Great to see everyone again.