Reprisal to the Reprisal

From the Rage Online newsdesk Tuesday, May 20th, 2003  

by Godalming Yellow
Well the comment entitled “Reprisal to comment 33” in fact appears not to do what it says on the tin. Instead, many clich?d arguments are launched into, assuming that any supporter who deigns to suggest that all is not well with the management at the club is actually making unrealistic assertions as to the club’s “rightful place”. It is very weak arguments that use such methods to cloud the issues and their content is little more than filler for the void they present.

Supporters will make judgements as to the standard of players in the squad and whether or not they are better or worse individually than the average for the division. If a supporter comes to the conclusion that the majority of the players in a team are more talented than their divisional counterparts, then a logical conclusion from that might be that it should be possible to produce a team capable of more than the other teams in the division. When a large number of supporters reach the same conclusion, then questions must be asked as to why it isn’t happening.

Very few supporters would suggest that Lincoln City have players who are more talented than those at Oxford United, yet Lincoln City achieved more. Why is this? The reason is that the Manager of Lincoln City recognised the capabilities of his players, and plays a system suited to their capabilities. It ain’t pretty, but it works for them. But that doesn’t mean it will work for all division 3 teams. Oxford have players capable of playing good football. We now have a Manager who appears to believe that Oxford should play more akin to Lincoln City, than say the successful and eye pleasing style of Wrexham, which might be more suited to our players.

Of course to a few narrow minded supporters, Atkins will always be an angel, and Kassam will always be Scrooge. You have to wonder about underlying reasons for such arguments, bearing in mind the amount of money “invested” in Oxford United by the present Chairman. Kassam can be a penny pincher and occasionally goes too far with budgetary controls, but it isn’t possible to say Atkins hasn’t been given sufficient resources. He has had the resources that virtually all other division 3 managers would give their right arm for.

The truth of the matter is that Atkins previously got Northampton out of division 3 by playing hoofball. He saved Carlisle from relegation by playing hoofball. And now he assumes that to achieve success in division 3 you have to play hoofball. Unfortunately for Atkins, too many other teams have shown that to be wrong.

The simple conclusion for the season is that Atkins failed. He failed to blend a team with much talent into a side playing quality football, of which they are more than capable. He failed to get the best out of players like Bobby Ford. He signed players with terrible injury records who, surprise surprise, ended up injured for most of the season. He favoured players with whom he has a history rather than players with proven talent. He treated players very, very badly. He refused to accept his mistakes. He refused to replace players in the first team who were performing badly week in, week out, just because he had signed them.

The only reason Atkins managed to sign players of the calibre of Bobby Ford and Steve Basham was because they came to him looking for a contract, not the other way around. There was no skill element on the part of Atkins in obtaining their signature. This shows what? Well it shows that Atkins doesn’t need to do much to sign good standard players. It shows that arguments to the effect that good players won’t come to Oxford are nonsense. It shows that there are a lot of good players available with not many contracts available.

The end of term stats don’t lie. Out of the 27 league games lost or drawn, in any of 23 of them, 1 more goal would have secured a play off spot. Just 8 more goals would have secured an automatic promotion spot. That’s worth saying again. Just 8 more goals over the course of the whole season (in fact just 6 goals if we’d beaten Wrexham twice instead of losing). It really doesn’t take a genius, let alone an unthinking Kassam basher, to realise that it would have taken very little extra to have achieved that, but Atkins knew best, of course. Not.

Atkins said “I know what’s needed to get out of this division”. No he doesn’t, he knows what it needed to get Northampton out of it with the group of players they had at the time, and that’s not the same thing.

We have a group of talented players. What we need is a manager who recognises that and understands how to get the best out of them. Not someone who is so rigid that you could build a 4th side on him.

Like it or not, division 3 football is a terrible standard. Much, much lower than division 2. Oxford’s natural position may be flitting between divisions 1 and 2. At the moment, under this manager, we can’t even achieve the lower range of that.

If this makes me a whinger, then I’m proud to be a whinger, because at least I know that fools come below whingers in the pecking order. The way some people talk, it’s as if the majority of us expected us to lift the Milk Cup again. Listen carefully, we didn’t. All we expected was a modicum of success from a squad of talented players in a very, very poor division. Now I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Godalming Yellow

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2003 at 12:00 am and appears under Comment. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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