When Cheltenham beat Lincoln 3-1 back in April to secure their thirtieth league win of a title winning season, not many of us thought that eight months down the line we’d have only registered another three league wins.
Clearly, this campaign has not gone to plan. Actually that’s an understatement. It’s been completely shite going from winning every week to losing 3-0 at home to Colchester.
Last season seems like an eternity ago, and memories of the painful relegation that preceded it are still fresh. The Robins’ sudden loss of form in recent weeks seems to be opening old wounds, and while it’s simple to draw parallels with 2014/15, this is something we should avoid.
In 2014/15 we went from top of the league after six games to 23rd after 46. But that season, Cheltenham did NOT enter the relegation spots until the 14th of February. Even more unbelievable, is the fact that whilst Paul B*ckle was in charge, Town did not spend a single day in the drop zone. Crazy, but true.
That term, we were sliding fast and nothing could stop us.
This time things are different.
We may find ourselves in the drop zone after three shocking performances, but this time the only way is up. We know that the summer recruitment was crap. We know that the scrapping of the emergency loan system has hurt us. Gary Johnson knows all this too. But we must be careful of huge upheaval.
Some players will need to be moved on, and unfortunately some may not be good enough for league football. But this is still a team that’s won more games than it’s lost, all be it most of them at a lower standard. I firmly believe that it all started going wrong for Mark Yates when the likes of Alan Bennett and Russ Penn were moved on. The 2011/12 team were a superb side on their day, and they were broken up far too quickly.
The dismantling of Yates’ play-off final team, and the experience of 2014/15 should have taught us that changing half the squad or switching managers mid-season is very rarely in the best interests of the club. Anybody even thinking about Johnson’s future must have a very, very short memory.
Three league defeats in a row and I’ve seen people talking about holding off contract talks and actually considering the manager’s future.
It’s fickle and it’s embarrassing.
History is not repeating itself. Until the recent run of defeats, in 46 National League games and 17 League Two games this season, Cheltenham suffered back to back defeats only ONCE. That was down to GJ.
All is still to play for this season. Two years ago we were rotten to the core, that’s no longer the case. There’s no need for a full scale clear out. There’s no need for people to start pointing fingers, and there’s certainly no need to panic.
You don’t get relegated in December.
After 20 games in 2014/15 Hartlepool had just 12 points. As we know to our expense they survived.
After 20 games in 2015/16 Yeovil had only chalked up 11, and they too survived.
Dagenham and Plymouth both had 13 points at this stage in 2011/12… you get the idea.
In fact, in the last five League Two seasons, the only team that’s reached 18 points after 20 games and been relegated was Torquay in 2013/14.
Dropping out of the Football League may still be a raw memory for some, but don’t compare this Robins outfit with the class of 2014/15. That shit shower doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the Champions.