Well, that left us all with what used to be called a warm fuzzy feeling in business circles, didn’t it?
If a massive Danish drinks company did last home matches of the season, Sunday would probably have been it.
John Ruddy got his deserved send-off, we took apart an extremely poor Queens Park Rangers side and (sentimental voting or not – my heart voted for him when my head was screaming out Jonny Howson) our wonderful Player of the Season, Wes, filled his boots quite literally with two goals and a brace of assists. The Hall of Fame awaits.
Alex Pritchard ran off his knee injury – caused as much by the over-watered pitch as much as anything else I would suspect. Alex Smithies struggled to keep his feet in the six-yard box in the first half, although JR seemed to have no such trouble in the second (nudge nudge, wink wink). I would not want to see Pritchard sold, much less sidelined by injury.
A lovely moment occurred when the Barclay demanded Ruddy take the free kick that James Maddison eventually wasted and the cheers from the Barclay when he “Beckenbauer’d” two QPR forwards were sublime.
I also got to see Ben Godfrey for the first time.
The old banter between Barclay and Snakepit was back, too. That’s what ‘atmosphere’ is all about.
The lap of appreciation was well-respected, and it was good to see Steven Whittaker (expectedly) and Ryan Bennett (I didn’t think he’d bother but I was chuffed that he did) take part in it.
The apparent absence of one Steven Naismith may or may not be an omen for the future. The non-appearance of Messrs Bassong, Lafferty, Mulumbu and Turner says a lot about them, but does not concern me in the slightest.
Of course the day centred emotionally around Ruddy – I had no idea he would be captain until he appeared complete with armband and children. A splendid gesture from Russell Martin and approved by Alan Irvine, I now understand.
From a personal viewpoint, we’re doing the Upper Barclay shuffle over the summer – a couple I know are moving a few rows away in order to sit together and a guy nearby is introducing his teenage son into one of their seats. This means I have volunteered to move a row back to let them sit together.
It also means I’ll be sitting with a couple of ruffty-tuffty rugby fans who frequent The Jubilee. Bring it on 🙂
The occasion concluded with clapping, cheering, handshakes and “see you next season if not before” all round.
Obviously, on the walk home reality set in.
The “warm fuzzy” didn’t exactly wear off like the alcohol did, but perspective, reality and that horrible combination of hopes and fears for next season started to gnaw away.
I had no radio so couldn’t distract myself with the unique entity that is Canary Call. My focus was therefore unadulterated.
The process of distillation over, my concerns would be something along the lines of the following:
We surely have to keep Wes, Pritchard and Maddison. Yes, all three of them.
Ideally there would be a role for the understated, articulate person that is Alan Irvine, his post-match broadside notwithstanding.
The goalkeeping issue has to be sorted. Declan Rudd, Michael McGovern or Paul Jones? None of them fit the bill for me.
Ivo Pinto has to stay, I wouldn’t mind if we kept Timm Klose and The Beast should be retained if Ajax and his agent can be suitably persuaded. Likewise, I would hate to lose Jonny Howson and despite the Rangers rumours I would rather retain Graham Dorrans, who I thought was excellent on Sunday.
To state the bleedin’ obvious, we need at least two centre backs with more physical presence than Klose or Martin and a smaller, speedy striker who can get behind a defensive line to run onto Pritchard’s often exquisite slip-ins.
I am hearing increasingly positive things about Tom Smith. Hopefully he will be more actively involved in the hands-on element of running the club in the not-too-distant future.
And finally the one we’re all sweating on. The new head coach. I heard a very interesting suggestion yesterday (thanks, James!) about somebody from tier two of the Bundesliga. I don’t remember the name, but his pedigree was interesting, to say the least.
Your guess is as good as mine. I have always thought Uwe Rosler to be well and truly in the frame, and the demise of Fleetwood Town’s play-off aspirations would suggest that if it is him, he will be announced in the next week or so. We could do a lot worse.
Gary posted his Rip It Up link yesterday. My alternative would have been Everything Must Go but most of what needed to go that can be easily got rid of has, erm, gone. So that leaves me with the perfect reflection on this season: Led Zep’s Good Times, Bad Times.
The MFW team will be writing about all things NCFC as the revolution continues over the fast-impending summer; a personal thank you to all readers and commenters and enjoy the frustration of the hiatus 😀