Twas the weekend before Christmas, not much was stirring at the Greenhous Meadow, not even a Lion. Twas a busy time in the Football League but not all was content for the Shrewsbury Town fans. They hurried and penned to their Mr and Mrs Claus, manager Graham Turner and chairman Roland Wycherley, their wishlists to get them out of the relegation mire and onto more stable footing.
One of their disgruntled elves, me Terry Lewis, has managed to compile a selection of the most requested presents from the givers for this year.
1. More than just fighting spirit
Well actually this has come a bit early, but cheers all the same Santa. A bitter, grounded out victory over fellow strugglers Carlisle and great draws against clubs with more financial resources – i.e everyone’s favourite pantomime villains Crawley Town and M.K. Dons – will hopefully kick on and drive the club forward after a poor second quarter of the season. This all follows on from…
2. Stop conceding in the first 10 minutes or last five!
A lot of points have been dropped or missed as Town cannot defend for the full 90 minutes. We must be up there with Tottenham Hotspur as one of the clubs which throw away goals in the last few minutes of games!
Similarly, we just love to throw away a goal in the opening five minutes at least then perform better chasing a game with nothing to show for it. It’s simple mistakes which started on the opening day against Sheffield United and continued most game from there.
Expectations have come down and become more realistic of course since seeing how “well” we’ve got on since the last time I’ve blogged. I honestly think these spent and wasted points could cost the club big time towards end of the season. We’re only halfway but consider the teams with bigger crowds, revenues way above us gunning for top prizes, we have to make our plight more worthwhile than theirs and overcome these shocking mistakes.
3. Tie down the better players to new deals now
This summer just gone we got absolutely run through by the slight ineptitude of both board and manager at letting players who could play in League One go. James Collins was developing into a terrific lower league striker for Salop before he went off to Swindon and, despite getting on, I never saw the point in offering our star defender and captain Ian Sharps a one year deal when he could have easily done the business in League One for a year at least, then become a decent squad player and possibly coach in second.
The ‘Man Mountain’ Marvin Morgan is still going good but doesn’t have a decent amount of time left. If Salop do go down he would be a more than capable weapon in League Two again. Since that’s becoming more than likely, it would be a smart idea to get his contract sorted. The lack of forward thinking is ridiculous. Roland has some deepish pockets with an okay football brain so seeing some of that would be appreciated.
4. Sort out the defence
Whilst the strike force and midfield are decent to okay in a club for the stature of Shrewsbury in League One, I honestly can’t say the same for our defence. Cult hero Jermaine Grandison was shocking in League Two last year and to say he’s still struggling this season is an understatement. Michael Hector on loan was a bit of an abortion since he was howling everytime I saw him play. A few quid spent on better players or loanees in the upcoming window would be most welcome.
5. Get it right Graham or get out
A bit of a harsh statement to make since Graham Turner finally has taken Shrewsbury out of League Two but the man can be infuriating at times. Putting players out of their preferred positions is a masterstroke of his. For example, I have not for the life of me ever seen the point of swapping a right full back and a right sided central defender. Never has worked tactically and considering they are two players who are already getting to grips with the quality of League One, it’s slightly suicidal.
Turner has managed to get in some decent loan signings. The problem is, they’re not exactly what we need. For example, Jeremy Helan was decent on the left and could go onto be better but at this stage of his career, but he’s no better than Paul Parry. Since the club were crying out for a decent goalscorer up front, it wasn’t what they were after.
As much as I love GT for what he’s done for the club in the past, he’s not doing the business at the moment. He’s got the upcoming Christmas rush to turn it around, but with the squad we currently have, well, it’s in his hands to keep us floating. If we’re not doing it right, the suggestion has to be made to get in someone who can at least get the team going.
So slight doom and gloom around the Mighty Salopia, and what festive treats are by the fireplace of relegation at this ‘magical’ time of year? Well an away trip for the “Bury” derby against, well, Bury in a massive six pointer. They will hopefully will be feeling low after some out of the blue cash problems. Then a tough three in a row against top half Brentford, Notts County and a turned around Coventry, before another couple of six pointers against Scunthrope away and Hartlepool at home. Shrewsbury must target and achieve 10-12 points on offer here to get on course with staying up.
I speak for fans of all relegation threatened teams when we’re eagerly awaiting the result of Portsmouth’s overlong running legal battle. The amount of time taken has now become a joke if you ask me, so much that any points deduction should be doubled. I’m not being harsh but this should have been put to bed during the first month or so of the season. I know their fans have been through too much but it’s not fair on 23 other teams in League One to not expect some sort of punishment over the farce it’s become.
There’s hardly any Christmas joy floating around Salop at the moment. With being out of the cups (don’t get me started on the Hereford game), it’s going to be a hard, long slog now towards April 27th, the last day of the season, in our bid for survival. On that day, we have Pompey at home. I get the awful feeling both teams staying up in this division will come down to that day. Some neutrals will wish for the other “hard done by” team over us, but we don’t care – long as the boys actually give us something to cheer about and TRY, that’s the most important thing.
Breathe on them Salop!
Written by Terry Lewis, We Are Going Up’s Shrewsbury Town blogger
Terry tweets at @thatterrylewis