The Dentist’s Diary – 647th

No game this week and I guess we all set out into the closed season still disappointed and with a few unanswered questions, a few opinions and perhaps even a bit of hope for the future.  

I guess after the dust has settled on a pretty disastrous finale to the 2019 campaign and you looked back a few games to what happened in the Huddersfield match, it was always destined to be that way wasn’t it? We have been mentally frail throughout this season when the pressure wasn’t on, so when it was, it was perhaps just the inevitable outcome and we were, at the business end of the campaign, always going to implode somewhat.  

The last week has seen the Club, like the rest of us, licking their wounds, dusting themselves down and starting to try and pick up the pieces as we all set sail toward the 2020 campaign. What’s more, its been a process that has at least given us all a chance to reflect, to consider where we’re at and indeed where we are hoping to go! 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 646th

‘I’m Glad it’s all Over’

So sang Captain Sensible, but there has been little that was sensible about our last four performances of 2019 and although Friday was much better for effort, in hindsight you realise that we were never going to win it, because in attack we simply lacked any variation or ideas ….again. 

We were outplayed by a much better team on Friday.  The FC fought hard and never gave up and without the ball we showed some real guts and determination to stem a tide that flowed from a Saints team that were more direct, more lethal and who showed us just how to vary your attack to keep the opposition guessing. 

On the other hand, our offensive play was again predictable and even a bit pedestrian at times. We have to do something about our style of play, for we again lacked any sort of craft with the ball. We all applauded the effort in defence, but we were again lacklustre and uninspiring in possession, as too often we lost our way and looked devoid of ideas at the end of our sets. 

Changes have been promised by Adam and for me they have to come, because we need a completely new outlook as to how we play rugby next season, particularly when you see how far ahead of us Saints are. We need to be enthused as spectators again too, because even with the signings we have made, if a bad attitude creeps in again, we could be in trouble next year if we aren’t careful! Adam this week alluded to a change of playing style, but as the recruitment of big forwards and the ever increasing size across our back line continues into 2020, it’s hard to see a change of game plan coming any time soon but, all we can do is hope!  

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The Dentist’s Diary – 645th

Win and Were in!!!

Thus came the battle cry from Lee last week as we approached the biggest game of our league campaign in what was, he said, the biggest challenge of his coaching career!

A strange sort of start? Well, I left that headline in, for I picked it before the game when I was sure that this time the team would get the importance of the fixture and the real FC would emerge and do us proud.

We said all the right things beforehand and as fans we all knew that if we could just play as we did against Warrington in that semi, then we would have a good chance. Instead we witnessed a game where the West Riding team out-enthused us throughout; whilst our heroes simply collapsed to slip out of the five for the first time since April.

The effort might well be there, I won’t call that, but the attitude is all wrong and for me, it smacks of disinterest and a lack of caring. I now believe from being in the running for second place three games ago, the season is over. With results going against us and our fate now out of our hands anyway, it will take a miracle next week to get us anything but another scalping and despite everything that has been said, we seem to have learned nothing from the end of last season and it’s Groundhog Day for all us fans once again!

As the final hooter went I was heartbroken and bloody fuming in equal parts, for there was little to be positive about and for me the departing Mini and Manu, after all they had done for us, deserved better! That said the feeling of helplessness and the futility of it all doesn’t eat away at me for days anymore, as perhaps it should, for I’m becoming ambivalent to it all, but more of that later. 

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The Dentist’s Diary – 644th

Well that looks to be that doesn’t it? 

As we approached two eminently winnable home games against Salford and Huddersfield it was simple, the league was poor, the quality questionable and the chance for a bit of late season glory within our grasp. Two wins at home would probably see us in the top 3. As it happens, we now know thattwo wins would, on Friday night, have seen us sitting four points clear of third, with just two games to go. 

I have come to the conclusion that since we played in that semi-final, we have witnessed a season trailing off with a whimper rather than a roar and that’s happened on the back of a mental attitude that is just not right at all. For me that is down to just one thing …the players. The chance was there, they’ve been looked after, allowed to take a holiday and excuses have been made in abundance for them, but they haven’t been able to handle the pressure and take that chance, or what looks more likely to many of us, they just couldn’t be arsed to grab the opportunity!

Instead, of being excited and looking forward to the run in I guess that I went along on Friday night, quite reticent about it all and almost expecting what I saw. I was therefore able to take ‘a back seat’ and extract some of the emotion out of it and in so doing, what I saw was a group of players who let the owner, the coach and us lot out there on the terraces down …big style. Didn’t they ever realise that we would never get a better shot at Old Trafford than we have been presented with this year, or didn’t they care? 

Against Salford and Huddersfield the game plan they had worked on all week was fine, for it got us 12 and 8 points up,they should then have produced more of the same to take the game away from the opposition. In addition, our defence on which for years we built our success, has been uncharacteristically poor, particularly on our line and that combination of a lack of offensive focus and any sort of defensive grit and determination has led to two performances that are just not acceptable to those of us who attended. I know that players don’t go out to play badly, but they have to have their heads on when the season is on the line. 

On Friday the desperate demeanour of Huddersfield reflected their position in the League, but our slap dash, jumbled showing didn’t represent ours at all! It seems to me that the minute we get in front, all our shape and pattern goes out of the window, the plan is ‘up the Swanny’ and most of the players do just as they like. 

Mentally we seem shot, for once we go behind we are left running around with the ball in the oppositions 20 like a load of school kids playing tig and we certainly never look like scoring. In both our recent games the oppositions line defence was first class and ours was poor, but it is the way that the players have just tossed 2 games away that disappoints me so much. For me as I said in starting, I think that’s it for this year. 

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