Saturday, 4 April 2015

Time for a miracle

We have to believe. It is Easter - the time for miracles, and that is what we need now.
A few hours on from another limp defeat away at a relegation rival and the miserable run of form now sits at four wins in the last 35 games, one league clean sheet since August... the misery goes on.
On the way to York, just outside the city, we passed 'Buckles Inn' As if that wasn't bad enough, the song on the car radio at the time was Crowded House's Don't Dream It's Over. I am not making it up. And I'm afraid it pretty much is.
That really didn't bode well, as so it proved, as for York, see also Hartlepool, Dagenham and Carlisle. Pivotal, must-win games where we simply haven't turned up, putting in limp performances and losing them all.
Again, especially in the second half yesterday, there seemed no desire from many players to roll up their sleeves and battle for every ball, every tackle, every header.
At 1-0 down in the 93rd minute, a ball went into the York box. Two York heads bust a gut to get there - not a sky blue shirt in sight, really wanting to win it.
That was a small microcosm of why we are in the situation we are in. You can change the manager as much as you like, but the bottom like is I don't think the players want it, and when that happens it is all over.
Which I think it pretty much is. Monday might be the last chance - a win against Stevenage and you never know, but can Gary Johnson really change the mindset among the squad in such a short space of time?
They have to want to change it themselves and I don't see any great appetite among them to do so.
To make a silk purse from a sow's ear, you need the sow's ear in the first place. I don't think we even have that.
We started the season with four wins and two draws. That is now how we need to end the season if we are to have a realistic chance of getting out of this.
Since those four wins and two draws, we have picked up 23 points out of a possible 102. Now we want 14 out of 18, which would get us to 51 points.
Even the biggest die-hard optimist would have to say this is unlikely. But we can point to Hartlepool, dead and buried a few weeks ago, now four wins and a draw and they have the momentum.
So it can be done. But I am afraid I just cannot see it from this group of players. I can't see the will amongst a group who know that at the end of the season they can just walk away.
They can just walk back to the clubs they have been loaned from, or go to their agents and find themselves another club, and wash their hands of it all. Continue their careers without a care in the world.
On May 2, for a lot of them, it won't be their problem any more. They can get on with their careers happy in the knowledge that they are still earning a decent wage.
Meanwhile, we are left to pick up the pieces of our shell of a football club. To try to pick our way through the ruins of what used to be a well-run football club, which three years ago had a promising future with an exciting group of players, playing good football, a fanbase which was starting to catch on again - but is now a complete basket case.
I don;t have the energy - yet - to go through in detail why this chaos has ensued. That is for the end of the season, wherever we end up. In short, there are many varied reasons for it.
It's not down to one person, it is a collective run of horrendous decisions and policies from people in the club from the top to bottom which have contributed to where we are now.
After last weekend's loss to Plymouth, we knew York was going to be the key game. The players had to be up for it. We had our two best loanees, Will Packwood and Wes Burns back.
But unfortunately, they can only fill two of the 11 places on the field. We need nine others to do their part as well, and the simple truth to me is that they are just not up to it.
Four managers, 41 players, all the systems, tactics, team talks, arms round the shoulder, hairdryer rants, hours on the training ground, watching the bloody DVD over and over again, empty words in interviews, set-piece routines or pre-match warm-ups in the world cannot mask it.
Our players are not just good enough to stay in this division - and many of them don't have the will or desire to make that happen either. Bottom line.
I have seen fans since yesterday saying they were not trying. Problem is, I believe they were. They were doing their best - yet still they have come up short. So what does that tell you? Not good enough.
I believe they were trying, but as I said earlier at key times they simply didn't go that extra mile in the key moments, putting their bodies on the line to really dig in.
Again, we rolled over too easily. A soft touch. After going 1-0 down, as has so often been the case not just this season but for much of the last two as well, we never looked remotely like getting it back.
Small margins again, one header from a corner. See also Carlisle, not defending a free-kick. Also Portsmouth. Plymouth, letting a centre-half run 60 yards through the middle of us and play a straight ball to an unmarked centre-forward. I could go on, but it's just too depressing.
It was the supreme irony that the man we really needed was stood on the final whistle with a number 10 on his back, arms aloft. One of those ridiculous decisions I mentioned earlier. See also their number 15.
But those who have made those decisions have to live with what they have done, and some will, I am sure, pay for it and fall on their swords. But it will be too late by then, as the damage is done.
Damage to our football club, financially in the long-term, and in the short-term it will cost people their livelihoods - it will be inevitable that some hard-working people at the club will suffer, through no fault of their own, but because others have not done their jobs properly.
I hate being negative. It devastates me to say this but I just cannot see where the wins are going to come from to get us out of this, given what I have seen in the previous 40 games, and with this squad in the last three.
It may be the time of year for resurrection, but we need a full-blown miracle to turn this around now.