Is it worth trying to explain why it’s the end of July before I’m publishing the season review? I thought not. The whole thing started off with good intentions back in May and still hasn’t been fully finished, so it may seem a little disjointed and the disappointment of the late season form could have turned to a more measured view, then again…
The season as a whole has to go down as a success. If I’d told you, this time last year, that a top half finish was realistic and that we’d spend a big chunk of the season wondering how such a small squad would cope with Europe then I’d have had a visit from some little men in white coats. As true as that description is, it doesn’t tell the full story.
Whilst not getting a single point against the top four sides was hardly a surprise the drastic turn of fortune in the second half of the season could have ruined everything. The glory of making a first ‘showpiece’ cup final almost totally overshadowed by the poor performance on the day.
The order of things often have too much of an effect on how we remember football. A 4-3 victory coming from behind will be remembered better than one where you take an early 4-goal lead. Maybe that’s right. Maybe a failure to capitalise on them should detract from early successes. I’ve a feeling though that he we’re going to stay in this division for a while we’ll have to take our successes where they come and the best way to start on that is with last season.
Things off the pitch haven’t been quite as rosy and every way you turned someone had something to say about how the club was run. The loss of club provided supporters’ club facilities, less accessible ‘corporate’ facilities, overly simple ticketing arrangements and poor communication are just some of the things that were seen as distancing the club from its core support at the expense of Mr ‘Johnny Come Lately’. The icing on this particularly sour cake came with the appointment of one Maurice Lindsay to the board. The perception for some is that he’s being groomed as Chairman in waiting. I think it’s fair to say that this man is so unpopular amongst longstanding ‘tics that a takeover bid from a consortium led by Elton Welsby, Brian Hamilton and Bill Kenyon would be a more attractive prospect.
Not everyone is standing idly by and watching this happen though. A small number are insisting that they’ll no longer give money to the club and will only be at away games next season, others have taken a more measured approach and are trying to organise themselves into a voice of the fans, dissenting but seeking dialogue with the club. The first meeting of LISA may have coincided with Lindsay’s arrival and they should be applauded for keeping focus on the wider issues when it would have been easier to start a witch-hunt.
On the playing side, the limping run-in came to an explosive end. Bullard slipped off to Fulham without saying goodbye and Pascal Chimbonda’s final act was to hand in a written transfer request in the changing room at Highbury. It took a couple of weeks before Roberts and Camara joined him as want-aways as the agent for all three started on a one-man crusade to unsettle the club.
To sum the season up, there’s been plenty to be pleased about but as much he not more to be worried about. We’ll leave the worry for August 19th and over the coming days look at the more positive aspects of the season, starting with the cliched but traditional ‘school report’ and moving on through thoughts on the best games, goals and moments from the club’s first season amongst the big boys.
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