I can’t remember the last time I felt so despondent about my beloved Ilkeston football club. Last season we were pushing for promotion and came so close to doing just that, losing 1-0 in the playoff final. Back in October/November we went on an unbeaten run of 8 league games without defeat, winning 6 of them. Now we have just lost to Mickleover which makes it 8 league defeats in a row. Not just 8 games without a win but 8 defeats. The first team has been decimated and is now mostly made up of academy players. Let me be brutally honest about this, we no longer have a senior team but an academy team playing in a man’s league and we are not good enough.
The kids are not to blame. It is not their fault that they have been put in this position. I can understand the philosophy of bringing through the academy players and making money off them when they move on to bigger clubs. I can understand the line of thought of bringing some of these players through now in preparation for next season. The problem is that it’s all been done to the extreme. Too many of our better players have been sold. Too many of our more experienced players have been let go. Too many academy players have been brought through at the same time. Too many academy players now make up the, supposedly, senior team. As a result too many games are being lost and before long too many fans will stop attending.
How is defeat after defeat helping to make these kids better players? Their confidence must be shot and I worry for them, especially when I see tweets like “I’m so shit” from one of the players.
So who is to blame? The majority of fans will immediately point fingers at Nigel Harrop. As the CEO he has to take the ultimate responsibility. Is there a money issue? Where are these mysterious backers? Is it naivety and he’s out of his depth? Does he simply not have a clue? We will never know. How must the manager feel about this? Does Andy Watson have any say in all these players leaving or are his hands tied? If it’s the latter then he must feel equally demoralized but if it’s the former then he is also partly to blame.
As I write this we are 8 points clear of the drop zone but with most of the teams below us having games in hand and with our next 2 games being against league leaders Blyth Spartans and then a six-pointer against Whitby we are well and truly sucked into the relegation fight. I’ll be honest, I can’t see us winning another game.
The fans deserve better.