These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

GAME PLAN

Published in the Southern League Central Divison match v AFC Hayes on Tuesday 16th November 2010. We won 5-0 in front of 184.

I’ve been reading Jonathan Wilson’s ‘Inverting the Pyramid – the history of football tactics.’ It’s a meticulously researched piece of work, detailing not just the different formations that shaped football and focusing on those managers who pushed the boundaries, but also countries social histories, giving some explanation to where those tactics came from and why they arose. But reading it, I reckon apart from one or two sensational managers, most of the rest rely on a large slice of luck. The right players with the right attitudes. No long lists of injuries. The goal that hits a balloon and goes in. A misfiring striker at the mercy of the tabloids. How you deal with egos in the dressing room, a family bereavement, not getting the rub of the green and other football clichés. Of course tactics and the right players are important, but it is impossible to control all the external influences that makes a team great and a manager will have to deal with all these factors off the pitch. How this is dealt with properly is the sign of a good one.
Then there’s supporters demanding instant success, chairman worrying about relegation and financial oblivion and intense media speculation. Just who would want to be a top class manager?
These pressures are a little different eight leagues below the Premiership, but some things remain the same. Slough are on a very poor run of form that has seen us lose to bottom of the table teams. For supporters who endured a torrid time not so very long ago, it brings back memories of the old days again. So what to do? Sack all the players and coaching staff? The same ones that got us to the play off finals last season?
One of the things that makes football so interesting is that two people standing next to each other, watching the same game, can and probably will have a totally different take on the proceedings. This is even more stark when you watch a game as a neutral with mates who are supporting one team. You become the annoying bastard who points out that it wasn’t infact a stonewall penalty and (god forbid) the ref is having a good game.
Take the Rugby Town match. I thought we played some great football in the first half and Rugby supporters agreed, but some Slough fans thought we were terrible.
So should we have a go at our own players? Should we harass our manager because he obviously doesn’t know what he’s doing? (Luton fans sang this the other weekend when their manager made some substitutions. They were 3-1 up and were about to win their sixth game in seven!) The ref of course will also get abuse, because; well, they are the proverbial cat that we all like to kick when things aren’t going our way.
None of this is ever going to disappear – after all this passion is something that makes football what it is. Football is also bloody frustrating and brings out a peculiar short term memory condition, that has every game graded best/worst performance ever.
We know that watching football we can lose all perspective – you only have to listen to the plonkers on the football phone-ins to come to this conclusion. This is another reason it is so popular, you can forget all your worries for a while, and channel all your energy into something else. But in the heat of the moment, we can cross the line. I know I have.
But nowadays I’ll leave my shouting for getting behind my team, because I reckon that’s the best way to get players to perform and help Slough Town win games.

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