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3rd quarter review

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After the Shrewsbury game I started my half season report with "It's been a tad disappointing hasn't it?"


Since then our record has been W4 D2 L7.


The season has gone from disappointing to worrying.


There's been some positives since the start of 2014. A respectable performance at Liverpool, Oxley finding some form, Gary Harkins, Peterborough of course...


...but despite it looking like we had a fairly promising future at the start of January regardless of the division we would be in, it's now starting to look like the majority of future positives from then have been dismantled by LJ, replaced by short term fixes that, at this moment in time, haven't made enough of a short term impact to justify their inclusion in the squad.


If you look at each purchase and sale in isolation the majority seem to make sense. Schmeltz simply wasn't worth the positives he offered and Worrall was an upgrade, Rooney just didn't work out and Stead was worth a go, possibly even worth keeping to see what he could do when fully fit. Tarky obviously is and was a big loss but replacing him with experience in Lockwood and Wilson was a logical thing to do. Harkins was a cheaper, more experienced and adequate replacement to Baxter which we were missing. Kissock, Turner and Dunfield were all low risk gambles which weren't likely to make or break our season. I certainly wasn't complaining at the time and there wasn't a huge uproar from the majority of fans.


But with hindsight every move has replaced a multiple year deal player with a player until the end of the season (or less in Stead's case). This is rarely good unless there's some really bad chemistry in the dressing room but especially as it seemed like a lot of LJ's earlier signings were to put in place a squad that had gelled by the start of next season and would be ready to go from the off. LJ has gutted the squad that he built in the summer and has taken away too many of the positives that many were clinging onto from 2013. The payoff for that move is nowhere near being worth it. We no longer seem able to take the game to the top sides and, the odd spark of genius aside, there has been a significant drop in quality of the players.


Improvements and grounds for optimism? Well this is where I'm going to give LJ the benefit of the doubt. I think we will be set up in a way that will allow us to win the ugly games against the teams around us. Scrappy wins against Stevenage, Gillingham and Swindon would back that up and if you look at the teams we've lost to since the halfway point (Walsall, Vale, Wolves, MK x2, Preston and Rotherham) all of them are in the top 10. With 6 of the last 10 against bottom half teams plus Bradford who have been in bad form since November I wouldn't be surprised to see our form change. Of course the wrong performance at Crewe and/or against Crawley could quash this thought process.


Along with a lot of squad players that could've gone either way looking likely to end up on the wrong side of that line, LJ will almost certainly have to radically rebuild the squad again, only this time he will have a lot less patience from the fans and probably less from Corney too. Regardless of whether we get relegated or not I wouldn't even consider sacking LJ until October of next season as I think he should be given the chance to learn from his mistakes, but while I think he's shown more than Dickov it's hard to disprove the comparisons between the two. As a club we are older and wiser (I'd like to think!) and if we are in a similar position to now in whatever league we are in 2 or 3 months into next season I think it would be impossible to argue with the comparisons.


Lack of finance and investment off the pitch relative to other clubs at this level has obviously made the manager's job here pretty difficult, but when in the last 5/10/20 years has it not been?? The manager knows the challenge he is taking on when he's given the job and Corney seems to do as much as he can without putting the club at risk of meltdown. Managers have done better things in worse situations than this so, when talking about results, the buck stops with the manager imo.


For what it's worth I think we will stay up although I'm not confident of that, which I was a couple of months ago. I like LJ, I really hope he does well with us in the future and I don't think it's out of the question that he could, but the last 13 games have raised many more questions of him and the direction that he's taking us than I thought were possible in that short period of time.


Regardless, I can't bloody wait for Crewe on Saturday!


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