Post-Gillingham Rantings

Last updated : 21 September 2005 By Keith Allman
This site has often had to wear the tag of "overly optimstic" or "rose tinted glasses" with regards to performances and results. Many is the time I have defended us for a disappointing draw or defeat if I think we have played well but been unlucky.

Sadly, there will be no positive spin this time around. Simply because we were so f*cking awful there is no way I can possibly defend the players in any way, shape or form. I suppose by now we should be used to us screwing things up in cup competitions - god knows how many times we've managed to do it in recent years regardless of managers, players or chairmen - but it doesn't make it any easier to swallow. Yeah, so we created enough chances to win the game but we didn't did we? Yeah, so we got into the area a few times and tried to cross to the striker but we didn't did we? Yeah, so we made Gillingham look like Brazil and looked fragile every time a team 19th in League One on the back of three straight defeats came forward - oh, we did didn't we!

The first thing I'd like to make clear is that, contrary to others who gave him a hell of a lot of stick at the final whistle, I don't out-and-out blame Mr Perrin for this result. Yeah, he's got to take his fair share of the blame for a diabolically embarrassing performance. But let's not forget he named the strongest side he could barring injury and this is a team who beat Everton, away, and played incredibly well only last Saturday. It is the players who have to take 99% of the responsibility, hold their hands up and admit that they let down the club and have f*cked up big time.

Sadly, I doubt they will. The tunnel at Priestfield is right by the away end and judging by the way they all scurried off down there without even daring to look at the travelling contingent I'd expect they'll trot out the usual excuses, if they bother to say anything at all. I'm not just picking on foreign journeyman players or those who haven't been here long, this is pretty much all inclusive - people like Dejan who have been around for years, players like Andy O'Brien and Richard Hughes - they all just pissed off down the tunnel without so much as daring to make eye contact with those who had made the journey. Yes, so there were fans not holding back on their feelings on the performance just gone and dishing out a mouthful. But I sympathise with them and don't blame them at all. They'd paid their money, made the trip and deserved so much better than the complete crap that was served up, piping hot.

At least Gary O'Neil and Jamie Ashdown had the bollocks to come over and clap the fans and hold their hands up. Even Perrin gave a shrug, a clap and a thumbs up despite suffering a fierce volley of abuse. It's those who turned in shocking efforts then just slunk off as if they've done enough to pick up their wages that need to have a good look in the mirror tomorrow.

I think perhaps only two players can walk away and not feel too ashamed. Gary O'Neil scored a decent goal, could've had another that lead to the penalty and at least didn't give up. Brian Priske likewise kept on going and had a fairly decent game at right back. Other than that then you might as well not bother looking. Ashdown had an absolute nightmare - a poor throw for the first and then letting it in at the near post, and the less said about the comical second the better. Perrin has got a tough call now as to whether or not it's time to give Westerveld another go, he certainly couldn't do any worse. Dejan and O'Brien were mediumly crap in that they seemed to struggle with every Gillingham attack. The third goal was an absolute farcical effort for a Premier League team to concede and if we can let a League One striker have so much time in the area, god knows what Diouf will do on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Karadas and Silva did below average although both had very little to work with and consistently failed to control the ball with any great skill when they did get it. Taylor messed up his big chance to show the manager what he could do as, despite getting in promising positions time after time, continually failed with his final ball. Hughes was poor and Vignal's distribution was shocking. Songo'o made his debut and will wish he hadn't bothered. Todorov looked a shadow of his former self; the only reminder of his days as Golden Boot winner being the amount of times he was caught offside. And it has to be said with his missed penalty that justice was done - a truly disgraceful dive.

I think I might be labouring the point a touch here but I really can't get over my boiling anger and frustration at what has been displayed before my eyes tonight. I don't know if it's the performance that's angered me, the long roadwork affected journey home (still got to do a u-turn in Gillingham though, another one for the list) or the arrogance and ignorance of the players in just storming off the pitch at the end. I'd imagine a combination of "all of the above".

Thankfully, it's just the League Cup. But if we can't pick up from the piss poor standard displayed tonight then we are in serious, serious trouble. I couldn't care less what result we get on Saturday. What I COULD care about is whether or not the players think the same insulting level of effort will be accepted by fans who give up their time, money and effort to cheer the lads on at every outpost you care to mention and time and time again in these supposed "must win" games against "easy" opposition we always manage to f*ck it up.

First things first, get them to watch the video tomorrow morning at 8:00 and see how bad it was. Then get on the training field and sort it out. No feeling sorry for themselves; it's their own fault the mess they're in. And then prove to us up at Bolton that there's still talent in the team and the ability to win games. When the Gillingham fans sang "Premiership, you're having a laugh", who were we to argue?

There's no silver lining, there's no plus points. Another grim away day and now it's up to the players to prove to us it was a one off and that they've hit rock bottom. 13th in the Premiership is something to build on, and they'd better hit the ground running.