Sunday, 15 April 2012

Third time lucky..?

It’s funny how a few months can change things: one minute we had Wembley in our grasp and League Two football looked a certainty next season, and the next, no cup final and the possibility (yet again!) of sinking into the mire that is Conference football.
November was a good month for us – we beat Cheltenham away in the JPT and were to make the area semi-finals (the furthest the club had ever progressed in the competition) and Sanchez was up for the League Two Manager of the Month award. We were unbeaten in League and Cup, also winning at Southport in the FA Cup, and only dropping points to AFC Wimbledon in the League (a 1-1 draw away from home). At the end of the month, for a moment the table looked pretty:
January too, was another good month. With the transfer window out the way, we managed to hold on to our, and the League’s top scorer in Izale McLeod, and loan players brought in all extended their spells. In the League, we won every single match: Bristol Rovers and Crewe Alexandra at home, Accrington and Northampton away, and drew in the first leg of our area final of the JPT against high-flying Swindon. The table again made great reading for Bees’ fans, reaching the dizzy heights of 17th:
We are now reaching the end of the season and it’s a completely different story. One win in 16 matches and once again we find ourselves just above the drop-zone – Hereford and Macclesfield occupying the bottom two positions. We played the former on Friday night, drawing 1-1 and last month played and got a point against the latter. Two points out of six against the teams below us, what a difference at least one win could have made. Macclesfield played yesterday at home to Crewe and drew 2-2. As it stands with three games remaining, the table looks like this:
I honestly cannot pinpoint what has gone wrong between then and now. You really cannot blame it on losing the two-legged final with Swindon. If the team were adamant they’d make Wembley, they should have really done better to win after 180 minutes! Imagine for a second we had actually made it all the way, would there have been a slump between the regional and actual final, or would they have been up for the League matches? And after Wembley, how would results and performances gone? It’s true, however, that the majority of the squad look disinterested: McLeod isn’t the player he was pre-transfer window and looks lethargic and lazy, both goal keepers have had absolute mares and have been swapping positions on the bench and the pitch, and the defence – despite being changed fairly frequently – always looks as if they have only just met each other on match day; a real lack of communication, amongst other things! And if it’s the players lacking motivation and looking disinterested, surely it’s the manager’s job to raise their spirits and get them up for the fight? On Friday night the only players in my opinion to look interested were May and Kamdjo (who in my opinion played an absolute blinder and deserved to be Man of the Match!). I’m not going to turn this into another ‘why I dislike Sorry’ rant but it’s plain for everyone to see, it hasn’t worked out for him. On reflection, I cannot believe we were so excited and optimistic pre-season – what for? The majority of this season has made for painful and frankly, heart-breaking viewing. But remember, don’t worry, we “won’t get relegated… not on [my] watch!” Great news!
The run-in
With only three games of the 2011/12 season remaining, it’s a three horse race amongst us, Hereford and Macclesfield. The fixtures for each side look like this:

                        Barnet                       Hereford                   Macclesfield
20.04.12         Southend (a)
21.04.12                                           Northampton (h)        Bradford (a)
28.04.12         AFC Wimbledon (h)   Crawley (a)                Burton (h)
05.05.12         Burton (a)                  Torquay (h)               Southend (a)

Being three points above the drop-zone, advantage swings our way – despite our horrendous goal difference, which stands at -29. We’ve not had the easiest of run-ins, having to also play Crawley, Swindon and Cheltenham in the last month or so; had we picked up three points against the likes of Hereford, Macclesfield, Dagenham et al, it may have been a different story, and perhaps, we’d not find ourselves in such big danger. In all fairness, I can only see ourselves getting a maximum of two points from the remaining nine available – is it optimistic of me to say we will draw with both AFC Wimbledon and Burton? I can’t see us getting anything at Roots Hall, especially as Southend are going for promotion – a possible 3-0 thrashing!
Via the BBC, I’ve put in my predictions for the remaining fixtures and the table looks like this:
Here’s hoping for the third season running it doesn’t go down to the final game, there could potentially be some horrible scenes at Burton on the final day of the season. Whatever our fate, I’d rather know sooner than later, the last two years have been absolute killers – despite the pure elation and jubilation at the final whistle!

Supporting the Bees should come with a health warning, but I’m Barnet ‘til I die..!

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