So that’s it then. We’d always said that if we stayed up by a single goal on the last day of the season, then this would have been a great season. While it’s still mathematically possible for that to happen, it’s not going to happen. We’re relegated. So it hasn’t been a great season.
It wasn’t a good match – we were one down in 54 seconds, and the game was effectively over at that point. With the possible exception of a couple of efforts from JFK towards the end of the game, we didn’t threaten, and never really looked like scoring. Rotherham are not a great side, but Colin has managed to get them playing together and for each other. Their fans were behind them from the very first and they were in this together – players and fans. I doubt they were like that prior to Colin’s arrival and them going on their run, but that’s what happens when you string a run of results together. What we watched today was what happens when things go in the opposite direction.
I’m going to buck the trend here and say that I don’t think it was down to a lack of effort. Those players were trying their best, and as each goal went in, you could see that it was hurting them. They’re not the best of players, but they’re generally good players, though they’ve perhaps been shown up a little at this level. What seemed to be missing today was any sense of team, and any real idea of what they should be doing or how they should play together. It was a group of individuals, desperate to do something to make it better, but with no idea what they should actually do. That has to be down to the manager.
Robbo would not have survived so long in most clubs. The fact that 89 other clubs in English football have changed their manager since he was appointed is testament to that. Maybe if we’d sacked him earlier in the season we’d still be in the championship next season. Bristol City and Rotherham have done alright with that approach. Doesn’t work for everyone of course – just look at where Forest are right now.
But we’re not most clubs. We do things differently. I think Robbo has a lot to learn in management, and I think that he will learn a lot in management. The thing is, I want him to learn those lessons with us. We got promoted together, team, manager and fans, and I want us to get relegated together, team, manager and fans. I want us to rebuild together, I want us to go again together and I want us to work our way to promotion together too, however long that might take. I’m nailing my colours to the mast a little here perhaps, but I want us to do this differently.
I’ve often found things to criticise in elements of our fanbase. There have been a number of situations this season where I’ve found some of our fans’ behaviour more than a little cringeworthy. This afternoon, for the first time, I was genuinely ashamed. Not many people had stayed to clap the team off, but come the moment where Robbo himself claps the fans who have stayed, some fans chose that moment to boo. Boo at half time if you must, boo at the end of the game if you really feel the need – if you’re that way inclined, then boo during the game. But to stay behind, when most have already left, and to choose to boo at that precise moment, when the only message it can possibly give is a very public ‘fuck you’ to our manager, I genuinely cannot understand what could drive someone to do that.
That moment, those few seconds that happen a few minutes after the end of each match, is a bonding moment. It’s the point at which the fans say to Robbo ‘we’re with you’ and at which he says ‘thanks for being with me’. It’s a genuinely significant moment for me. It means something. If you’re not with him, then feel free to make your point in any other way, but that was a truly appalling thing to do. You could see how hurt he was at the time, and you could hear how hurt he was on the radio afterwards. He does not and he did not deserve that. If you were one of the people that did that, then I wish genuinely horrible things on you. If you’re close to Robbo, then please let him know how sorry I am that he had to experience that, give him a hug and make sure he knows he’s got support.
The hounds are already out in force all over the web, calling for Robbo’s head, and suggesting that just about anyone would be an improvement. With any luck, things will settle down a little before anyone makes any decisions about what happens next.
The social media world is currently full of people saying that they won’t be renewing their season tickets. If that’s you, then I’d suggest that football, or at least lower-league football isn’t for you. Thanks for the money while you were coming to games, but I don’t think you’ll be missed. That’s not what this football thing is about.
I’m feeling very low tonight. It’s just a game of course, except it’s not and we all know it’s not. But we’ll be back, and I’ll be back, and together, we’ll have great times. League 1 was always great fun, and we’ll have great fun there again.