Peter Holden has supported Wanderers for 42 consecutive years. Here he gives his assessment of the 2013/14 campaign
IT is rare for a season to effectively end in March these days, but for all that, 2013/14 has been a season that has kept me interested.
This is in spite of some distinctly average performances along the way – anybody recall the winter warmer pre-Christmas treat that was the 1-1 home draw with Charlton? Me neither.
We began with the worst start to a season for more than a century, a rude awakening after the strong finish to the previous campaign, but a clear warning sign of what life was going to be like without the defence-organising skills of Craig Dawson.
Eventually green shoots of recovery and distant dreams of the play-offs followed, only to be dashed by a forgettable mid-winter, all interspersed with promising cup draws that subsequently flattered to deceive and some interesting loan signings, before ending with our now customary end-of-season flourish.
The twist this year is a promising glimpse of the future from what is hopefully the beginning of the Academy production line.
This season has unfolded against the backdrop of a crippling debt of eye-watering proportions which suggests either an alarming degree of complacency amongst the club’s guardians at best, or financial mismanagement on a grand scale at worst (for the record, I subscribe to the latter view).
I can’t help wondering how different things would have been had Big Sam (Allardyce) received a fraction of the financial backing afforded to his immediate successors.
As a consequence, I suspect Dougie Freedman has been working within very tight financial constraints, and I believe we will only begin to see the first fruits of his labour when overpaid underachievers are moved on and our youthful talent begins to fulfil its undoubted potential. After years of punching above our weight, I think we are probably back in a more natural position given our support and resources, and with that in mind I prefer our current approach rather than that of a QPR for example.
I trust Dougie to deliver if given the time and patience to see the job through.
This season’s away support has been excellent, but if Dougie is to win over the home support he should perhaps resist the temptation to rotate and tinker as often and, more importantly, he should set up the team to win those home games we should be winning at a canter – Charlton, Yeovil, Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham to name but a few.
So, while I am hopeful of better times ahead, the reality is that I and my mates are shelling out to a Bournemouth fan over a bet on which of our teams would finish lower over the course of a season.
And no disrespect to the Cherries, but that ain’t on!