“We go again”… The three words on a Saturday night guaranteed to make my blood boil even more than “Strictly Come Dancing”. Now I’m fully aware that I’m rapidly turning in to a grumpy old man. Some would say I’m already there. But the basic implication behind these words drives me to distraction. The inference that we can simply brush under the carpet the appalling performance that has seen us get beaten again, yet aim to go out next week, do precisely the same thing again and expect a different result is the dictionary definition of insanity.
The only people that “go again” are the fans. And right now we’re all questioning our sanity on those grounds alone. All we can do is go again. We pay our money, turn up and hope beyond hope that the team that failed so badly previously will do something different and improve.
This past Saturday the fans decided to go again to Wycombe. What they witnessed was a second half capitulation that was as predictable as it was upsetting. The gods of football would have already been against us after the Crawley Town Media Team decided to start behaving like some pre-pubescent teenager by prodding the sizeable tiger that is Adebayo Akinfenwa with a very pointy stick. I think most of us knew what was about to happen as soon as we read that tweet. Poor Thomas Verheydt didn’t stand a chance after being set up for that particular fall by the very people that are supposed to have his back. As a lady much smarter than me said: “We are a professional EFL Club, not a banter page”.
0-0 at half time clearly have us hope, but as they say; it’s the hope that kills you. We shipped 4 goals in the second half, with three coming in an 11 minute spell that seemed to be one of the most lacklustre ever witnessed on the road. Quite simply we folded. So no, we don’t want you to “go again”. We want you to learn and improve.
And here’s the next problem we face: Change is driven from above. That means that we need a manager with knowledge, experience and humility. Harry Kewell simply doesn’t have the knowledge or experience for League 2 football. Harry was a very good top-flight player. His trophies and international caps speak for themselves, but they’re not relevant for League 2 management. I genuinely apologise if that seems disrespectful to what Harry has achieved throughout his career, it’s absolutely not meant to as one can only applaud what he achieved as a player. The harsh reality though is that I (and many of my contemporaries on the terraces) have probably watched more League 2 football than Harry Kewell. If we want to talk knowledge and experience with relevance to League 2 then Harry is probably going to come off a poor second. And there is the perfect cue for the humility; Humility to accept that he’s learning and that some of us who pay to be there and watch have seen it all before.
I’m sure we’ve all read the statement issued on Sunday on behalf of Harry Kewell by now, but it flies directly in the face of basic evidence, some of it photographic. Harry Kewell failed. He failed with him team selection, he failed with his team management and he finally failed to accept the accurate if extremely vocal criticism of the fans. You simply cannot look to confront the fans in the way that he clearly did on Saturday. To then offer such an inaccurate and patronising statement in his defence is quite simply indefensible.
Fans will put up with a lot and at Crawley. Whilst we’ve had our good times, they are now firmly in our rear-view mirror and what we have been suffering for the last few seasons has been pretty shoddy. But we still come, we still pay our money and we still hope that our team and manager will show empathy for what we give up and meet us half way. Right now that isn’t happening and the lack of empathy from the manager is going to be the wedge that drives us the fans away from the team.
Harry is a guest at our club. He may well be a paid guest, but he is a guest nonetheless. We as fans were here before he arrived and will be here long after he has gone. We are all well aware of why Harry is with us. It’s not out of love for Crawley Town, it’s to form a springboard for his managerial career and I have no issue whatsoever with this as a concept. But a relationship like this needs to be symbiotic and mutually beneficial. If Harry is to stay then he needs to adjust the way in which he manages both his squad and the supporters. The Dean Cox “situation” needs to be spoken about and resolved one way or the other. The disrespect shown to the fans by pretending there is no issue is now beyond parody. If he’s going, say so and say why. If he’s staying then find him a pair of boots and get him in the match day squad. Come clean about the behaviour at Wycombe and apologise. We all saw it and we can only move on from it when an honest statement is made.
But finally, above all else, don’t “go again”. Be humble. Admit when it’s wrong and change it. And if you don’t have the ability to do either, then maybe it’s time for the guest pass to be revoked.