The Gloves are Off ... ...
Right, I have waited six games into the season for this; I was hopeful it would be a nice positive piece after a steady start to the campaing but alas not. I missed the Newport and Basingstoke games so can’t really pass comment on those particular disasters but, anyway, here are the opinions of the Socks jury.
Bloke with gloves on (aka a goalkeeper)
Of the games I have seen he has looked a good shot stopper but very vulnerable to crosses. However, any goalkeeper at this level is going to have his faults otherwise he wouldn't be playing at this level. There is a definite lack of communication with those in front of him that needs to be addressed on both sides. He is only a youngster and playing behind this shower of a defence will probably mean a visit to a shrink before long. After the latest debacle at Basingstoke the gloves may very well be off...
Four blokes who stand around at the back (aka a defence)
Now by rights I should leave an empty space here - that's what our players seem to have done. With an internationally renowned defender as manager and another well-respected defender as his coach this should be the least of our worries but 18 goals conceded in six games would tend to suggest otherwise. I have previously written about the "free headers for sale" and they continue to be on offer from the Welling defence. So far this campaign I believe at least six goals (i.e. one per game) can be put down to the games of musical statues we have been playing at set pieces.
We started the season with two full backs (a full back and a centre half really) and they are now injured. Well they might be unwell; or injured - it is hard to tell sometimes. The skipper, who was outstanding last season, has gone back into his bad old ways, berating teammates and/or supporters. My spies tell me that he may not be completely over his injury from last season and that he is genuinely upset about our start to the season but, if he is, he's got a funny way of showing it. Which brings us to the glorified thug masquerading as a footballer alongside him: he could easily have been sent off three times in the opening six games and it is a great shame that he wasn't. WIE has campaigned long and hard for a commanding, no nonsense centre back but not a complete fool. Whoever made the decision to award him a two-year contract needs help. Of course there is another defender with a number of Conference appearances under his belt last season but clearly he is not worthy of a starting berth in our illustrious back line. So there you have it: five recognised defenders to select from with the only problem being that four of them are injured. Some would say having five defenders in the squad at the beginning of the season was a risk - I would say it's utterly ridiculous.
Four blokes who get neck ache in the middle of the pitch (aka a midfield)
With the honourable exception of Mr. Spiller who has been the one bright spark in the season for me so far it is difficult to say much about the midfield because it has never been the same for consecutive games. I do also have some sympathy for Mr. Slatter who has so far played left midfield, right midfield and right full back (goalkeeper next week Danny?) We have taken on two more boys from the manager's old club but they are essentially for the future and not for the here and now. There is another recruit from Dover who looks like one who will definitely divide the fans; so far we have had the hokey cokey (in, out, out, out, in, out) and we want to talk about the football rather than the pretty boots and the soppy haircut. There is also another new recruit from Sittingbourne who is not up to it I'm afraid. There is simply no sign of any ability whatsoever unless it is the missing part of his surname...
Two blokes who look on in horror at what is going on behind them (aka forwards)
It's not the greatest time to be a forward at PVR but we are still entitled to expect a better level of performance. Boothy is a class act but has looked indifferent this season - is he fully fit? Hughesy started off like a house on fire but we are gradually dragging him down to our level. The service should be better but we also need to defend from the front of the team and chase lost causes, pressure the ball etc. Phil Collins has shown what can be achieved with the basics of effort and desire and quite a few more should be following his lead. Get well soon Tommy - definitely player of the year for me so far.
The blokes who sit on the halfway line in blissful and silent ignorance (aka the management)
So what do we have exactly? A high profile manager who has played under some of the greats (Sir Alex, Sir Bobby), the 'encyclopaedia of non-league football'(ha ha) and a first-team coach whose appearance seems to be optional.
A lot has been made on the internet relating to budgets but quite frankly I don't care how much it is. The manager knows his budget, accepts it and has to do the best he can with it. Two out of three isn't bad. We can argue the merits or not of the playing squad and we will all have differing opinions but that too is at the discretion of the manager. I have also read a lot of comments about the deafening noise emanating from the bench on match days. Now I don't expect all managers to be of the Sir Alex variety but, at the very least, I expect organisation, direction and commitment and I can't see we are getting any of those.
Do these people have any idea just how frustrating it is to see "groundhog day" week after week without a murmur from our illustrious bench?
One recurring theme throughout this piece is injuries. Players are in and out of the side all too often and/or playing when far from 100% fit. This happened frequently last season and is a real headache in trying to get a settled side and a style of play. Whilst we are running such a small first team squad the medical back up has to be spot on. WIE has long felt that the diagnosis and treatment of injuries at the club is something that should be addressed and it is patently clear that this problem has not gone away.
And finally a message from one sad bloke (who pays towards your wages) to the players and management of WUFC:
I have supported this club for about 25 years and been a season ticket holder for getting on for twenty of those and I have never known things at a lower ebb than they are now. To pay £9 to watch the drivel being served up at the moment is daylight robbery and the people getting (over)paid for this 'entertainment' should stand accused of taking money under false pretences. Some people spend their hard earned following Welling the length and breadth of the country and they are being conned out of their cash. It is a crying shame we can't get you involved in the 'sponsor a goal’ initiative... just think, a £2 contribution from each member of staff for every goal conceded and we could be quids in. The supporters of this club were here long before you and will be here long after you. Do you think whilst you are passing through that you could at least put up a fight (no Andy, not that sort of fight) for me and the 500 or so diehards you are cheating every week. You are far from the worst group of players that I have seen at Welling but you are fast becoming the worst TEAM.
For want of a better cliché - shape up or ship out.