Written by kirsikka
It’s a seismic few weeks ahead for our club and I’m not sure if some appreciate just how big. We’re about to leap off a precipice into the unknown hoping for a good landing but must accept this period could influence the future of AFCB for the next decade or two. Hyperbole? Arguable maybe but I believe it to be accurate.
We’ve already witnessed the swingeing cuts to the squad. I absolutely accept they were necessary and back each one as the right call, even if I do hold the opinion that we could have wheedled more from the Callum deal. Assuming the rumoured relegation reduction clauses are accurate then combined with those who left, through sales or contract expiry, we should have a wage bill that’s getting vaguely manageable with the first year parachute payments to come.
The unwritten part of that statement is that it wouldn’t be in line with the second year parachute payment and a long way from where we would need to wage bill to be in two years if we don’t go back up.
This season is the big hit chance to regain PL status. It’s the season in which we can hold onto more and still recruit. Subsequent seasons would be characterised by aggressive cutting back across the whole club. That isn’t a criticism but instead merely facing reality. Anyone managing the team then will have a doubly tricky job to do, trying to build a promotion-winning/relegation avoiding team whilst having the current squad dismantled.
Anyone who thinks we’ll settle comfortably into Championship life is ignoring the fact that, once the parachute payments are gone, we’d have either the lowest or close to the lowest income amongst all Championship teams. Even if the owner decides to make up some of that shortfall with yet more personal investment we’d still need an exceptional manager to get the whole squad to overperform. Even then, how long can the owner keep subsidising a club like us if it doesn’t look like we can make it back up?
Left to our natural financial clout it will be a battle to stay up every season and, as we’ve seen, every team hits a bad run in the end which would end up in L1 for us again.
So far so doom and gloom and, believe it or not, this post isn’t meant to be like that. So let’s get back to the next six to eight weeks. So much in the Championship is about momentum. Get a squad believing in themselves early in the season can carry you a long way. Early results can instil belief. Who can forget Huddersfield? Then we were carrying good form from the previous year over. This time we need to forge it from scratch.
It’s going to be a new-look team with a new look bench. Players that previously may have struggled to push aside established rivals will now find themselves with the chance to nail down first-team spots for this season, and maybe even beyond depending how well it goes. That’s what they need to be sold on. This isn’t just a chance to play 46 league matches in the Championship but the chance to stake a claim to be a Premier League player for a number of seasons to come.
The effigy that the club’s identity was built for the last decade years has been burnt, even if it’s still imprinted on the minds of many players and fans like some kind of wicker man. The calming voice that players would know and trust to believe, even in tough times, is gone. Instead, there’s a familiar face in an unfamiliar position trying to fill boots the size of canoes. Tindall has to learn on the job and do it quickly. There’s a big difference between arguing the case for something and ultimately making the decisions, especially during the smouldering pressure of a fast-paced 90-minute ding dong battle.
There’s frustration that we can’t influence this from the sidelines. A bouncing stadium can drag a team and it’s players back into a match on the back of a single incident that gets the crowd fired up. Instead, this precious period will begin in a void where the cameras will allow Tindall or the team, not a moment’s escape.
So what can we do? Maybe we should take a lesson from the Howe years and many other famous sporting achievements of recent times where they talk about the marginal gains. The 1% differences here and there that add up to turn also-rans into champions.
We can’t influence what happens during the match but we can influence the chatter that takes place off it, before and after. Let’s not pretend that players never hear, read or see what is said on this forum, Twitter or other such places. Even if a few do completely blank it, enough of them will be aware that it can’t help but have a some effect on their state of mind.
Ruthlessly deconstructing a player’s bad performance and denouncing them is unlikely to prove many benefits to us.
I’m not saying we should be the proverbial happy clappers. However, we can all approach a situation without using pejorative language. If a player or the team needs to be called out there are ways to do it that in a way that accentuates the positive.
From ‘He’s not fit to wear the shirt’ to ‘Obviously that performance isn’t why we signed him, I look forward to him turning it around in his next match’ for a new player.
From ‘He hasn’t got a clue and will never make it in the Championship never mind the PL’ to ‘He has a lot to work on to develop his game but he’s at the right club for that. Let’s hope he gets his head down in training’.
From ‘Tindall hasn’t got a clue and we’re never going to do well under him’ to ‘Tindall’s ideas haven’t taken a hold yet and, even if he made mistakes today, hopefully, he can use this week to get us in much better shape for the next match’.
Will it make any difference? I’ve no idea but if somewhere along the line it gives us an extra 1% that helps us get the season off to a positive start then it’s got to be worth a try. It’s the only thing we have in our hands to influence the players until the crowds are allowed back in.
So for the next couple of months let’s try to be positive and be kind as well as being AFCB.
Excellent post. Found myself agreeing with every sentence.
And yes, you are bang on, THIS season is absolutely pivotal and clearly our best chance of winning promotion back to the PL. It will get a lot harder after that, so we need to get fully behind the team and push them to promotion THIS season if we can. We can make the difference and hopefully many of you will soon be allowed back into the stadia to push the lads on in person.
Please, stay positive all and let’s do this thing at the first attempt !!!
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