Leave out the ‘look how far we’ve come’ spiel

I’m so sick of Notts being on the tele. Look what happens…

We deserved absolutely nothing on Sunday, and quite honestly it’s hard to know what to say after a performance like that. I can’t remember the last time I felt so deflated after a game – it was that poor.

Losing to a bottom-two side always looks bad, but it was the manner of the defeat that hurt most. Chesterfield were surprisingly good but we made them look better than they are.

People seemed completely disinterested; it was like we have nothing left to play for. Chesterfield looked like a team who knew every game from now on is life or death. That was the biggest difference.

Kevin Nolan’s built this side based on passion, hard work and organisation, and we’re still sitting fourth because of it. But, I didn’t see any of that on this occasion. Then, what do we have left? Not much. Wycombe are going to have a field day on Friday if we play like that.

There was zero creativity. Jon Stead and Shola Ameobi (who were poor in their own right anyway, particularly Stead) were given nothing all game and I can’t remember one good passage of play. The ball was lumped forward every time with the aim of feeding off the scraps, and from minute one, it was clear that it didn’t work.

I don’t understand the substitutions… Matty Virtue and not Forte or Husin? A bit of pace and creativity? I don’t necessarily think Virtue is a bad player, but what did he add? We don’t have a plan B and plan A is going downhill, which is very worrying.

The goals conceded were absolute calamities, too. It made me realise how crucial Ben Hall is in this run-in. Shaun Brisley was okay but Richard Duffy is just a walking disaster sometimes. He has his moments but I watch him waiting for a mistake. The rest weren’t much better, either.

Having said all that, nothing’s over yet. We could still go up automatically if we turn this around. But, they need to realise that it’s happening now. Every game is huge and we can’t afford days like Sunday.

I don’t want to hear any more of the ‘look how far we’ve come’ spiel. Yes, the turnaround since last year has been great, and props to Nolan and chairman Alan Hardy for that because I don’t know where we’d be without them. But, now we’re here, and somehow in danger of letting it slip altogether.

What we’ve achieved so far means nothing if come the end of the season we don’t even finish in the play-offs. That’s a very real possibility right now and, considering where we’ve been all season, it would be an absolute disaster.

Some players need to have a think and ask themselves if they’re really up for the challenge, because if they’re not, then don’t bother turning up. As fans, we want to see 100 per cent effort every game and hopefully everything else will come with that – that’s the bare minimum. Frankly I didn’t see that against the Spireites and I haven’t said that much under Nolan – if at all.

Imagine 5pm on 5 May and we’ve booked our place in League 1 next year. You can’t beat that feeling.

I still remember the Rochdale home win in the 2009-10 title season where you just knew. Or failing that, secured a play-off spot. The good times can still come again, but not with performances like that.

To come this far and not even make the play-offs would be an injustice to the team that did so well for the first half of the season. But, that same team needs to wake up and realise that they’re going to have to play out of their skins for at least seven more games. Go back to basics, have a rethink and look at what to do if hitting 60-yard balls doesn’t work.

Like I said, nothing’s over. I’m trying not to overreact but we can’t be this bad again. Otherwise that’s it, season over, and then what have we achieved?

Seven cup finals and we could be celebrating. Or crying. Either could happen, but I’m praying it’s both and the crying is out of happiness.

At least Wycombe’s not on the tele. Always a silver lining!

Jacob Gunton

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