There’s a group of fans that sit behind me that I regularly tweet about; their analysis is endlessly unforgiving; if the ball goes into our half invariably one of them will groan ‘Oh, here we go’ suggesting the inevitability of us conceding. Any attack that breaks down is chastised for having ‘no end product.’. Any goalscorer who hasn’t found the net in the previous 20 consecutive games is labelled as ‘having done nothing’ for the club.
They were at it again on Saturday; some of our intricate, spectacular build-up play was viewed as ‘all very well, but where was the shot?’. No thought is given to the fact that stringing passes together and hitting the back of the net is an exceedingly difficult thing to do. Nothing about using the ball to pull apart the opposition’s shape and structure. No consideration, even, for the physical impossibilities of shooting with their back to goal, 30 yards from goal with two defenders jockying you out of play.
These are people who view a spectacular save to be lucky – ‘Ooh, he only just got to that’, and not the product of what Simon Eastwood had spends his entire week preparing for.
They’re not alone; quite understandably someone like Richardinho enjoys cult status for his general demeanour. But our apparent return to form over the last week has coincided with us being able to play our dependable players in their most suited position.
James Henry gave a virtuoso performance, but not in a way that would have songs featuring his name cascading down the terraces. He understood when to keep things simple, when to pass, when to turn back, when to try something audacious. He pulled Wimbledon apart down the right flank creating chaos which goalscorers Xemi and Ricardinho benefited from.
John Mousinho looks increasingly comfortable in the middle of defence with Curtis Nelson, while up front Wes Thomas played with measured precision. It’s an understated quality that has been absent in recent years. The systematic dismantling of Wimbledon, like those against Gillingham, Portsmouth and Peterborough, have been built on the stable influences of these new dependables, they may not thrill those sitting behind me, but they might just be thanking them in May.