I was unavoidably detained this weekend but managed to follow the latest disappointing performance at Fleetwood on my mobile, where we were reduced to trying to hold onto an early lead and then hang on for a point. Like most of our performances so far in 2021, it was not pretty. Bowyer blamed the strong wind but it didn't prevent Fleetwood from playing all the football whilst we were reduced to a string of desperate fouls in order to prevent them building momentum or profiting from strong attacking moves. It was clear from the start that the wind would be a factor so we had to make the most of it when it was with us in the first-half - we didn't.
Less than a month ago, I implored Thomas Sandgaard and our fans to back Bows and Gallen after our final flourish of player acquisitions in the January window. I felt that we now had enough pieces to improve the competitiveness in the squad and address the injury shortage. With Famewo and Inniss due back, I hoped we would yet go on another winning run and surge back into contention. The upcoming fixtures also looked kinder to us with a host of lower table sides short of confidence!
The win at Rochdale was a good start and what I was anticipating. However, the home defeat by Gillingham tested that theory. It was our sixth successive failure to win at home and the nature of the defeat was galling in that as much as we tried to win the game buy changing personnel and going after them, the more coherent a team they appeared. The sending off of Aneke (thanks for pointing out my continued mispelling) suggested only one thing and their winner duly arrived at the end.
The draw at Fleetwood meant that for the first time in 15 seasons in the third tier of English football, we had failed to win a game in six successive matches. Stats like this aren't just interesting, they also become indicative. Last night, despite a good start where January window signing Jayden Stockley headed his fourth goal in five games, once again we let the opposition come into the game, equalise, and then compete until the almost inevitable laughable winner. Laughable only in the sense that it was another ridiculous goal. A bizarre 25 yard deflected effort as opposed to the other variety of sublime wonder-strikes that we have suffered. So, that six game record sequence without a win becomes seven and again all of the focus is on the manager, Lee Bowyer.
However you look at it, something is not right. Sides with less talent and ability are competing with us regularly and beating us with relative ease. The players look like they are trying but very little is working for us. The difference appears to be teamwork. Sides with a well-drilled game-plan and discipline are beating us because we lack both.
It's very hard to develop a consistent rhythm to your play when the players and the formations change every week. Using the whole squad, almost out of frustration, is understandable but when you are bringing players back in who demonstrably failed two games running to put in the required shift a few weeks ago results in a lack of desire to hold the shirt. Similarly, coming back as a sub the week after a howling error also sends a message that result-affecting errors are tolerable. All of this lands in Lee Bowyer's lap.
Lee's also not helped himself either in recent weeks with some very Karl Robinson-esque post-match comments. We can all understand that he is running out of excuses but blaming the wind at Fleetwood was lame just because Fleetwood played better in it. He has also taken to saying that we are where he thought we would be in the table at the moment because of the early season transfer embargo and salary cap etc. That's not what he was saying two months ago when he said finishing outside the play-off places would be failure.
The facts are that we are 9th placed and 5 points off 6th. However games in hand caused by Covid postponements means we are really tenth and more like 8 points off the play-offs. If we were in this position on the back of a run of results there may be cause for optimism, but we are not.
A question needs to be asked about what Ged Roddy is adding to the price of fish? Since his announcement as Technical Director we have heard and seen nothing from him and there has only been a continuation of our shaky form at best and a worsening if you look too carefully.
Thomas Sandgaard will be rocking backwards and forwards on his heels wondering what to do next. How much is he relying on what he hears from his Technical Director versus the Manager? Do the two of them see eye-to-eye at the training ground? Performances and results would suggest not. Geddy's ongoing silence suggests he's not rushing to back Bowyer either in his hour of need.
Sandgaard faces that new manager dilemma for the first time. Does he hold firm and back a man who has done it here before or act to remove one who suddenly looks capable of a double relegation? Who does he trust for the Summer rebuild?
I reckon he will be feeling increasingly foolish for his Charlton goal Tweets which increasingly seem a signal for the opposition to score. Like the rest of us, he must be wondering what's going on at the training ground and why Bowyer changes things for every game. 'Rotation' doesn't begin to justify what we have witnessed. Already the most changes of a side in the division, he still doesn't appear to have a view of his best eleven or even the nucleus of his best side.
On Saturday we face Blackpool at the Valley and I reckon Thomas may have laid out a plan of action dependent on the result. If we win, he will let it roll and see if the fabled second-run of the season materialises, but fail to win and Lee Bowyer might find himself fishing again. You would like to think his players would want to bail him out, but last night's showing suggests they aren't that fussed.
PS, apologies for my sloth in adding your posts. Google don't seem to provide the alert service they once did and with comments becoming fewer and farther apart, I am a bit tardy in checking. Always welcome a different viewpoint - thanks Daggs.