Fan’s View 18/19 – no.14 – Wimbledon away

Article by Paul Beasley Sunday, September 30th, 2018  

AFC Wimbledon 2 Oxford United 1

I have never been a fan who rants and raves early doors when the club is under the tenure of a new manager even when things are not going well at all. Whatever one may think it is only fair to give them time to prove themselves. Even if there are early signs that the abyss beckons, hold fire. As I think I have done, hard as it has been at times. Ten games, that’s what people say. Give it ten games.

Well, we’re now ten games into the league season and have amassed half a point a game. Also let’s not overlook the fact that Karl Robinson was manager for the final ten (that figure again) games of last season.  If extrapolated that form equates to 50.6 points over 46 games. Just about enough to stay up but in the past six seasons three teams have gone down with 50 points. But those were not KR’s players. It wasn’t his team.

Half of the outfield players that started at Kingsmeadow came in under his watch as did two of the three substitutes that came on.

I’ve now seen enough to know “enough is enough” and am going to go over old ground but that has to be done as it is so relevant. Robinson out. That’s what logic dictates. His record at OUFC is appalling. The team seems to lack leadership on and off the field. It is not playing anywhere near the standard required to be genuinely competitive in L1 and whilst we do have some talented players, they’ve not been fused together as a collective. Some key ingredients that are vital for a side to be successful just don’t exist in this squad. But back to “Robinson out”. Who takes over? It usually ends up being, at least in the short term, someone already on the staff. That would be Derek Fazakerley or Shaun Derry, so please no. They surely have to be part of the problem. Or should that be many problems. And who else is there out there who is better than Robinson who would actually want the job? Then there’s the question of compensation for those whose contracts are cut short. Robinson’s deal runs until June 2020. Is Tiger likely to bite the bullet and pay out money he probably hasn’t got or at least had not budgeted for? It might sound harsh but I think all managerial contracts should have a break clause that stipulates dismissal can occur with minimum compo if a certain number of points has not been reached after x games. I don’t think that bar should be set very high because there are obviously always going to be clubs occupying the relegation places and unforeseen events, like injuries to major players, are not controllable by the manager but there has to be a line drawn somewhere. Say six points after ten games otherwise bye-bye.

If I could see any evidence that we’re about to turn the corner I wouldn’t be writing this but I can’t. To compound the gloom I’ve asked myself two further questions. If, and it is a massive if, Tiger were to dismiss KR, would you trust him to make a sound appointment? If we did end up with a sound replacement would they be able to produce a decent team from the current squad?

What made this defeat so hard to take was that Wimbledon deserved their victory without being the Wimbledon of old and without a home win before we arrived and rolled over. They weren’t that good but were better than us.

I thought the whole fixture had L2 written all over it and the ground not even of that standard. The view afforded spectators is an affront but in this instance, for Oxford fans, that was a blessing in disguise. At long last though the Wombles are taking the first steps in moving back home. (Yes, I know AFC was only formed in 2002 but for me they are Wimbledon, almost as was). The old greyhound stadium at Plough Lane, 200 yards from the original Plough Lane stadium, has been demolished ready for construction work to begin on the new ground. Seems to me they’re going in a different direction to us.

Seats for away fans. Not many is there. 

Talking of direction; when I looked up the points total required to remain in L1 over that six year period a few names of relegated teams stood out. Tranmere and Chesterfield went down again the following season to the Conference. Orient clung on one season before dropping out of the Football League and Hartlepool managed two before doing the same. It is very scary. Call me a merchant of doom, but those are facts.

Here we go again – according to the BBC we had 57% of the possession, 15 shots of which only two were on target. I can’t recall that many but its goals that count. Wimbledon got two of their three shots on target. They scored twice, we didn’t. We had 13 corners to their three but we’re no real threat.

I’ve grown wearyingly accustomed to such information. I don’t think we ever looked like winning this game and being honest couldn’t envisage us salvaging a point when we were kind of going for it just a bit at the very end. Too little, too late and lacking intensity. What a state of affairs when we have to send our keeper up for a corner against opponents who started the day just three points above us.

Defensively we were shoddy. Goal number one came from a high ball played down the wing. Andy Barcham raced past Sam Long. Curtis Nelson came across but never got close enough to stop the cross. Jake Jervis won the first header. He was way stronger than John Mousinho who ended up on his arse. Whilst Luke Garbutt was playing statues, Scott Wagstaff did what I’d expect any footballer to do and went for the ball with meaning. He headed home past Jon Mitchell. Could our keeper have been more assertive? Why not, everyone else in the back line was culpable because each had the opportunities to stop that goal.

We just don’t score goals like that nor do we come up against defences who play like ours does.

It only took another 12 minutes with the half an hour mark just past for the deficit to be doubled and this was just another bloody defensive cock up. Another long ball was played forward from a similar position to where the first goal was created from. This time though the pass was bent goal-wards for Joe Piggot to run onto which he did with purpose. Nelson had the option of going with him but didn’t. He should know better than to rely on Mousinho who mis-timed his run towards the ball, which he missed, thus allowing Piggot to slip past. For a moment it looked like our captain was going to haul the Wimbledon man down but what happened summed up how weak we are in the determination stakes compared to those we come up against. Piggot managed to retain his footing whilst Mousinho ended up on his knees. With no protection in front of him I again am not sure whether it would be fair to ask if our keeper should have done better.

I’ve stood up for Mousinho many times previously but I’ve reached “enough is enough” now. Add that infuriating habit of him turning back into trouble when in possession deep in our own half, which he did again here, to his defensive frailties and that’s it. I just don’t trust him.

At least we had something to cling on to, although ultimately it counted for nothing points wise, when we did actually score a goal a minute before first half added time kicked in. It’s a rare thing but for once we did attack with intent, straight at the heart of the Wombles rear guard. This was largely down to the goal-scorer, Cameron Brannagan.  He played two one-twos. The first with James Henry, the second with Obika to find himself in the box bearing down on goal. That’s the first he’s ever scored in first team football. In the circumstances there was no wild knee sliding celebration.

There are numerous reasons we don’t win many football matches with this team and we saw the evidence yet again on Saturday.

I’ve already mentioned the terrible defending.

Much of our possession didn’t damage Wimbledon nor did it make them work that hard whilst we had the ball.  The more I see of Ricky Holmes the more I get annoyed. He just looks too greedy. We do not pass the ball around enough close to the opposition goal but in mitigation that may well of course be because no Oxford forward does anything useful in that area of the pitch.

I can’t see us turning things around with the choice of men up top that we have and if I were to make comment on them I’d just feel I’d said it all before so many times. Obika, Jamie Mackie and Sam Smith, give me strength.  Ah, strength. Something they had much more than us. The impression I have is that they won 90% of aerial challenges in all sections of the pitch.

When we’ve suffered a defeat, even as debilitating as this, I can usually find a tiny positive to take forward but I’m finding it incredibly difficult to do so here. Samir Carruthers back in training? He’s creative but when he returns will he be able to spark a team lacking a centre-forward into life?

With the introduction of Shandon Baptiste we did get a little better and he is at least worth watching. On what I saw of Gavin Whyte I’d like to say the same but the jury has popped out. I like the way he goes past defenders but then there’s his crossing. Does he just put one in the box without looking to see who is there and trying to pick a man out? Or is he blameless and has every right to demand that a forward should be getting on the end of his deliveries or at the very minimum challenging for them? Unfortunately it comes back to the point that we just don’t seem to have that kind of player amongst us.

It helps not one tiny bit to turn on your manager during a game but Oxford fans thinking of doing so would have been joining forces with a small contingent of home supporters who were giving KR a very hard time due to his old MK Dons connections.

He definitely won’t get off so lightly when we return to action on Tuesday night if we don’t put on a better display than we have in our last two league games. After a poor start the Hatters have only lost one league game in the last seven. I’m fully expecting them to have more battling spirit than us and found the 13/10 being offered by Unibet very tempting odds.

Another miserable away day saved by the beer. Or so we thought until we discovered a parking ticket on return to the car here after the game. Should read the signs more carefully to spot the difference between a.m & p.m. A day to forget.

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 30th, 2018 at 4:23 pm and appears under Fan's View, News Items. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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