The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

It's a rant, but with pictures

3 March 2021

I don't want to do the diary this morning, writes BOTB diary, because I don't really want to think about football. I thought about football last night and it didn't make me happy.

Tell you what, lockdown is over soon, shall we think about holidays? Can't really go abroad, how about... how about the Isle of Man? I just remembered that they have a website called and they’ve released some stamps showing the attractions of the island. Let's have a look, shall we?

Isle of Man stamps

Well, perhaps I won't bother with a holiday this year after all, I'll stay and...

There's nothing for it, I'm going to have to talk about football.

Now, I like Paul Hurst as a man. He's less chippy than he used to be and he means well. And this whole shitshow isn't his fault. It's a bit like we've parachuted him into Chernobyl after the explosion and told him to make it all better. His interview after last night's hideous capitulation to a jittery (at the start), confidence-free (at the start) Leyton Orient was mostly reasonable and sensible.

But I think I've spotted the flaw in his thinking. "It doesn't mean we would have done better if we had started with 4-4-2" he said, more or less, "because then they would have had an extra man in midfield." Yes, Paul, but we would have had an extra man upfront! We haven't had anyone sent off! If we have an extra man upfront, Orient have to deal with him.

We've played with an extra man in midfield against loads of teams; it doesn't mean automatic victory. What it usually means is plenty of possession and no chances whatsoever as the midfielders use the extra man to pass it back and forth among themselves with nowhere to go, because there is one man upfront and he's marked by four men. Sooner or later some of our players are going to have to go into the opposition's box because if you don't score you don't win.

It might seem a bit rich, a CA diarist telling Paul Hurst about tactics, and it is. I'm sure his understanding of the game is infinitely richer and more nuanced than mine. It's not so much his tactics as his negative thinking. That Leyton Orient have to deal with us never seems to occur to him. It's all about how we cope with the supposed threat of the opposition.

Who can forget him, in non-League days, talking up the strike capabilities of Hayes & Yeading or Welling? How far down the leagues would we have to go before he started talking about what we could do to the opposition rather than what they could do to us? "Well, the Spider's Web Sunday League XI have Big Jock on the wing if he turns up sober, so I thought I'd best play another two defenders to cope with the threat."

Presumably he thinks the players he has are decent, otherwise he wouldn't have brought them in. Sooner or later you have to believe in yourself otherwise you've lost before you start. It's 11 versus 11, Paul.

BOTB Diary is available for seminars, team-building exercises and one-to-one counselling. He is usually to be found sitting on a bench in Peoples' Park, looking bewildered.