Freefall

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Jimski
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Freefall

Post by Jimski » Sat Feb 08, 2020 6:09 pm

What is going on? So good in 2019, but now it looks like we're back to our 2018 form. Depressing given we were looking so good before that we'd been talked about as favourites (even if that was laughable even at the time). I even had a glance to see how we look compared to the relegation zone - should have enough points already, I'd think.

Dr Bob
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Re: Freefall

Post by Dr Bob » Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:40 pm

Money has created a massive gulf between the 1st and 2nd divisions of English football. I am concerned that what we are now seeing is the impact of money opening up a gap between 2nd and 3rd. We have seen, in recent years, teams like Blackburn and Wigan come down but bounce straight back (I would argue that what Sunderland and Ipswich show is that money cannot offset utterly incompetent ownership and a genuine downwards trajectory). We have also seen how Rotherham and Peterborough, teams who are the closest we have to 2nd-3rd division yoyo teams, do so well when in the lower division.

Yesterday, the passing and movement of the Peterborough front-men cut us to shreds at times. Individually, I felt they were better than us man for man, with better first touch and an ability to win the 50-50 balls more than simple statistics would suggest. How much this was down to us being fatigued, who knows. But given Peterborough's goals-for this season, I am inclined to give a chunk of the credit to them - as much as their antics pain me to do so (the Ferguson apple certainly did not fall far from the tree).

Where does our playing budget put us? Somewhere around 6th-8th? On this basis we have been playing beyond par for a good part of this season. With injuries and cup runs to navigate, was it always going to catch up with us at some point? Is that point now? February is a massive month, at the end of which i think we shall have a much clearer idea of these issues.

OtmoorYellow
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Re: Freefall

Post by OtmoorYellow » Sun Feb 09, 2020 3:48 pm

Dr Bob wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:40 pm
Money has created a massive gulf between the 1st and 2nd divisions of English football. I am concerned that what we are now seeing is the impact of money opening up a gap between 2nd and 3rd. We have seen, in recent years, teams like Blackburn and Wigan come down but bounce straight back (I would argue that what Sunderland and Ipswich show is that money cannot offset utterly incompetent ownership and a genuine downwards trajectory). We have also seen how Rotherham and Peterborough, teams who are the closest we have to 2nd-3rd division yoyo teams, do so well when in the lower division.

Yesterday, the passing and movement of the Peterborough front-men cut us to shreds at times. Individually, I felt they were better than us man for man, with better first touch and an ability to win the 50-50 balls more than simple statistics would suggest. How much this was down to us being fatigued, who knows. But given Peterborough's goals-for this season, I am inclined to give a chunk of the credit to them - as much as their antics pain me to do so (the Ferguson apple certainly did not fall far from the tree).

Where does our playing budget put us? Somewhere around 6th-8th? On this basis we have been playing beyond par for a good part of this season. With injuries and cup runs to navigate, was it always going to catch up with us at some point? Is that point now? February is a massive month, at the end of which i think we shall have a much clearer idea of these issues.
I think it is primarily the teams who benefit from Premier League parachute payments who are able to maintain a place in the Championship, and if they get a 2nd relegation into League 1, they are more likely to be able to afford better players. I wonder how long it will be before the Championship will become Premier League 2, perhaps with the rest of the EFL being cast adrift.

Jimski
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Re: Freefall

Post by Jimski » Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:02 pm

It is disappointing though, because we genuinely looked a very good side around October/November. But now we are struggling to win at all, and shouldn't have against Blackpool (nine times out of ten they'd have scored that equaliser in injury time). I know we have a lot of games coming up, but tbh it hasn't been that terrible a schedule the last few weeks. We had a break for the lost Bury away game recently.

Dr Bob
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Re: Freefall

Post by Dr Bob » Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:37 pm

Otmoor - that can help explain Blackburn and Wigan - although the other examples I have given also confirm really bad management cannot be addressed simply with PL money.

But the main point I was making was that neither Rotherham nor Peterborough have enjoyed the PL riches - just the additional wealth Div 2 offers over Div 3...and that this, of itself, seems to be having an impact on competitive balance at the top of Div 3.

Having posted that earlier, I then came across this - another excellent article from the guys at twohundredpercent:
http://twohundredpercent.net/no-one-car ... ler-clubs/

Which picks up on both our points - the PL money and the dangers of PL2.

OtmoorYellow
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Re: Freefall

Post by OtmoorYellow » Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:41 am

Dr Bob wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:37 pm
Otmoor - that can help explain Blackburn and Wigan - although the other examples I have given also confirm really bad management cannot be addressed simply with PL money.

But the main point I was making was that neither Rotherham nor Peterborough have enjoyed the PL riches - just the additional wealth Div 2 offers over Div 3...and that this, of itself, seems to be having an impact on competitive balance at the top of Div 3.

Having posted that earlier, I then came across this - another excellent article from the guys at twohundredpercent:
http://twohundredpercent.net/no-one-car ... ler-clubs/

Which picks up on both our points - the PL money and the dangers of PL2.
Good article that. And tbh, it is little better than franchisement by the back door, which is largely what the PL represents anyway. Fans are lured away from local clubs to the big bright lights of stardom, fame and sensationalism to gain the status of supporting a big club. That isn’t competition, which is what league football should be about.

The EFL is gripping onto the Championship by the tips of its fingers. I doubt it can hang on much longer.

The PL is just waiting for the right moment to raise the drawbridge, just as it did in the women’s game at the end of last season, when it will have captured all the “biggest” clubs in the top two divisions.

slappy
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Re: Freefall

Post by slappy » Mon Feb 10, 2020 11:07 am

Peterborough were just too good for us, closing us down so we couldn't play our passing game. I think in modern football it's called "the press". Also it's a shame we lost both Fosu and Baptiste as they were players with a bit of spark.

I also read that Guardian article mentioned from the 200% article above. Some of the writer's suggestions just seemed so out of touch with what fans of lower league football want, such as going part time / ground shares. Also I'm not convinced that Championship football is what armchair sports fans want either.

Kernow Yellow
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Re: Freefall

Post by Kernow Yellow » Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:32 pm

Interesting debate about the money problems at the top of football. But I'm not sure that explains a spanking against Peterborough, a club currently spending their seventh consecutive season in League 1. I wasn't at the game, Jerome, but we know that we are capable of matching teams man for man, including Posh, who we've beaten twice already this season. The problem is consistency. We're pretty good at despatching the poor teams these days, and we can look top-class against seriously good teams too. What we can't do is regularly churn out performances to match top L1 clubs.

Of course it could just be that the squad is being stretched too thin at the moment. Saturday's team looked strong on paper, but several of them aren't fully fit, and others have played a lot of football recently. But I think there may be more to it.

I'm concerned that something isn't quite right behind the scenes at the moment. Failure to invest in a promotion push is perfectly understandable but doesn't really tally with the noises coming from the club a couple of months ago. And the clear expectation-management going on regarding the ground situation is more worrying still. If everything was falling into place off the pitch then we just had the perfect opportunity to push on from a great start, bolstered by cup- and transfer-related income. The fact that we decided to pass on the chance, despite the ridiculous wealth of some of our board members and related hangers-on, suggests that those in charge aren't ready to commit too much now for whatever reason. Which is their prerogative of course, but makes you wonder what they are here for if not to seize chances like this.

How this might all affect the players' (and manager's) mindsets is anybody's guess. We've got some tough fixtures coming up, and still a chance of being right in the mix if we win games in hand. At the moment I'd settle for just staying in touch with the pack while we catch our breath after a pretty manic couple of months...

Radley Rambler
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Re: Freefall

Post by Radley Rambler » Mon Feb 10, 2020 4:45 pm

I was at the game Jerome and we were well beaten. Peterborough attacked us with pace through the middle and we couldn't cope. Toney and Dembele were a class above and their number 29 was a tidy player too.

The transfer window behaviour and subsequent dampening down of expectations by Zaki has really dampened my enthusiasm. I was really hopeful at the turn of the year but now I've lost some of the OUFC mojo. If the Board don't believe and won't invest, then why should I?

Of course, I want the club to be run on a sustainable footing but:

- Tiger has talked about his desire to take us to the Championship, on Jan 1 we were very well placed for that to become a reality
- We have earned at least £500k in unbudgeted for cup revenues
- We clearly need another decent striking option which was cited by the OUFC management at the start of the transfer window

but we don't go and get one. I do struggle to believe that you couldn't get a very good loan striker for 6 months using some of the cup revenue bonus. If the Board were serious about the Championship, they could have acted and not on the last day in some token effort to nab a striker from one of our rivals who aren't really going to help us.

When we brought Mackie on to chase a 2-0 loss on Saturday, it was clear we weren't going to get anything from the game. He actually did ok when he came on but why not try something different with perhaps a young striker who might scare a defence and has a 1 in 5 League 1 goal ratio.

See you all at Burton.

OtmoorYellow
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Re: Freefall

Post by OtmoorYellow » Mon Feb 10, 2020 4:51 pm

I don't think there is any lack of ambition by Robbo or the board. Robbo has said many times that funds are available.

There needs to be players available to sign, in positions we need, that are better than those we have.

I would encourage the board not to overspend on players that cannot be afforded on an ongoing basis. There is no point spending for promotion to land the club with unsustainable huge debts.

Personally, I think Long is a little over rated by some Oxford fans. He is a useful squad utility player, but nothing more. His passing leaves a lot to be desired, and he gives the ball away far too much. He struggles to get up and down the pitch at pace, which makes him a slightly blunted threat going forward, and a danger to our defence in retreat. He is also clearly unable to go past a player to get a cross in. He has his merits in defence of course, but under Robbo's system, that is not enough, and I find he turns to pass back when there are options further forward. So in my view, we are weak on the right hand side.

Both full backs tend to leave a lot of space out wide when the ball is on the opposite touchline. If the ball is moved sideways quickly, we are often caught out by this.

The lack of a regular scorer up front to rotate with Taylor is an issue too. We create a lot of chances, but convert relatively few.

Several players are presently below form, I'm thinking of Brannagan, Mackie, Dickie, Gorrin, Henry. Many of these appear to have coincided with returns from injury, which begs the question if they are being returned to first team action too quickly.

There is no doubt that the loss of Cadden has hit the club hard, and knowing that it was a real possibility, the club should in my view have made sure they had an alternative available to sign up in January, or better still been a little more flexible with the amount they were prepared to spend on Cadden. Pace and skill on the wing have so much value in this division.

Myles Francis
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Re: Freefall

Post by Myles Francis » Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:28 am

OtmoorYellow wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 4:51 pm
I don't think there is any lack of ambition by Robbo or the board. Robbo has said many times that funds are available.

There needs to be players available to sign, in positions we need, that are better than those we have.

I would encourage the board not to overspend on players that cannot be afforded on an ongoing basis. There is no point spending for promotion to land the club with unsustainable huge debts.
I generally agree with this. I welcome sustainability and stability, but I think it's also fair to point out the differences between the board's stated ambitions and their actions. There have been plenty of noises made about a promotion tilt, but selling key assets just as the window closes whilst failing to address the glaring holes in the squad does not reflect that.

Zaki has also made a comment recently about operating losses being nearer £3m a year now and the board has to cut cloth accordingly. That would be fair enough if these were inherited losses, but it seems those losses have increased something like 50% in two seasons. That indicates additional money is being spent somewhere to cause these losses, as player sales and cup runs should be off-setting the "normal" structural losses.

There were also the first hints of cracks appearing between management and board after last night's game, with Robbo saying "There's things I'm frustrated about, but it's nothing to do with the players, and it's nothing to do with the fans".

Kernow Yellow
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Re: Freefall

Post by Kernow Yellow » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:38 pm

I also don’t have a problem with stability - I’ve said several time that it’s been an enjoyable season and I’m happy that we’re at the right end of the table.

But various members of the Board have said on various occasions that the aim is to become an established Championship club. And in early January Tiger was targeting new players to make it an ‘unforgettable’ season (while also saying that we didn’t have to sell anyone, but wouldn’t stop players furthering their careers):

https://www.oufc.co.uk/news/2020/januar ... rotherham/

Also, the club is not sustainable with our current ground - we’re many millions in debt with little way of generating revenue. We’ve gone from being told that we would be told about exciting potential locations for a new ground ‘within 6 weeks’ (what, 18 months ago?), to now having any talk of stadium ownership explicitly dampened down by a board member.

And now Robinson is making clear hints about unhappiness. Sorry, I don’t buy that this is just sensible business by all concerned. Something has changed behind the scenes and it’s affecting the mood of the players and management.

Kairdiff Exile
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Re: Freefall

Post by Kairdiff Exile » Wed Feb 12, 2020 3:18 pm

Don't disagree with any of the concerns above about our financial sustainability and "the stadiumsituation". Clear questions for the board to answer on both fronts.

But as far as our on-field performance is concerned, it might be instructive to revisit the thread I started back in August where we all made our predictions for where we'd finish this season. Most people seemed to think we'd finish around 10th-12th with a few doom-mongers (me) saying lower. The highest prediction was 8th (by Geoff), and literally no-one was saying in August that we'd finish in or above the playoff places.

All of which suggests that - with our cup exploits as well - this has been a pretty decent season on the pitch. Our current dip in form is a worry, but I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting we're going to plummet miles down the table. The worst plausible scenario is that our playoff run comes to an end and we finish 10th-12th, bang in line with pre-season expectations. More likely, we'll still be in the playoff hunt come April time and it'll then be a question of injuries / nerve / form from individual players.

So despite being a Grumpy Gordon back in August, I'm now going to be a Positive Percy and tell you all to cheer up a bit!

OtmoorYellow
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Re: Freefall

Post by OtmoorYellow » Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:01 pm

Kernow Yellow wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:38 pm
I also don’t have a problem with stability - I’ve said several time that it’s been an enjoyable season and I’m happy that we’re at the right end of the table.

But various members of the Board have said on various occasions that the aim is to become an established Championship club. Yes, but not necessarily this seasonAnd in early January Tiger was targeting new players to make it an ‘unforgettable’ season (while also saying that we didn’t have to sell anyone, but wouldn’t stop players furthering their careers):And that is what happened. We signed players in early January, and only sold 2 players to further their careers.

https://www.oufc.co.uk/news/2020/januar ... rotherham/

Also, the club is not sustainable with our current ground - we’re many millions in debt with little way of generating revenue. We’ve gone from being told that we would be told about exciting potential locations for a new ground ‘within 6 weeks’ (what, 18 months ago?)I don't remember anyone saying they would be broadcasting potential new sites. Quite the opposite, they said their are 5 or 6 sites but would not be revealing them for commercial reasons, which is sensible., to now having any talk of stadium ownership explicitly dampened down by a board member.Has it been dampened down?

And now Robinson is making clear hints about unhappiness.Isn't that just interpretation to stimulate debate? I've heard nothing from Robbo that suggests any frustration are with the club. More likely I suspect his frustrations are with the poor standard of referees and effective gagging by the EFL. Sorry, I don’t buy that this is just sensible business by all concerned. Something has changed behind the scenes and it’s affecting the mood of the players and management.

OtmoorYellow
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Re: Freefall

Post by OtmoorYellow » Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:11 pm

Myles Francis wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:28 am
OtmoorYellow wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 4:51 pm
I don't think there is any lack of ambition by Robbo or the board. Robbo has said many times that funds are available.

There needs to be players available to sign, in positions we need, that are better than those we have.

I would encourage the board not to overspend on players that cannot be afforded on an ongoing basis. There is no point spending for promotion to land the club with unsustainable huge debts.
I generally agree with this. I welcome sustainability and stability, but I think it's also fair to point out the differences between the board's stated ambitions and their actions. There have been plenty of noises made about a promotion tilt, but selling key assets just as the window closes whilst failing to address the glaring holes in the squad does not reflect that.Can't stop players furthering their careers, especially injury prone players. For me Fosu had limitations in that he was just as likely, if not more so, to run into an opponent than run around them. It is a fundamental part of the club's financial structure that we obtain young players cheaply, develop them and sell them later for shed loads more. That is how our funding model works. Take away sales of players and we would be looking at huge structural losses that would be unsustainable. Don't forget also the costs of taking on the training ground. There is no capital sum involved, but the club is obligated to maintain the site instead.

Zaki has also made a comment recently about operating losses being nearer £3m a year now and the board has to cut cloth accordingly. That would be fair enough if these were inherited losses, but it seems those losses have increased something like 50% in two seasons. That indicates additional money is being spent somewhere to cause these losses, as player sales and cup runs should be off-setting the "normal" structural losses.My interpretation was that Zaki was saying these sales would cover off losses of £3m, rather than reduce losses to £3m. I would certainly hope so too, as structural losses of £6m would be bonkers in this division. It is inevitable that costs rise as we get higher up the table. To achieve promotion with a lower table budget doesn't really work.

There were also the first hints of cracks appearing between management and board after last night's game, with Robbo saying "There's things I'm frustrated about, but it's nothing to do with the players, and it's nothing to do with the fans".Why not the refs? Why does it have to be the club? The EFL effectively gags managers from criticising the refs.

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