Fehler durch Technik at Fleetwood Town

They don’t come here anymore to be enthralled. They don’t come here to bounce around and breathe in wild flowers.

They come here to attend the Highbury wake. They come here to look at the embers of a once good Fleetwood Town side.

Heavy metal football was promised by the East German born head coach. But something got in the speakers. Something took over the strings of the guitars. Something clogged and suffocated the throat of the vocalist.

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Local rags, frequented by kindergarten journalists, continue to court the official line, the North Korean-like propaganda (“Rosler salutes spirit”). But we know, we know, there is something dreadfully awry.

Six defeats in a row – four of them in the league – naturally stir the ire of the chairman. Make him listen to his lieutenant in a different way. Make him gaze across the boardroom table and begin to smell something other than aftershave.

Sample words do not help Rosler’s cause. They do not hint at a pioneer, a trailblazer, an innovator or avant-garde manager.

We didn’t want to play balls into the middle because [Shrewsbury] were very strong in midfield with their three players there.

We wanted to play basketball instead. We wanted to seemingly snuff out our strengths before the action had even begun.

Six shots against that latest foe. And only two of them on target.

We are no longer a Cod Army, but rather a tray of mussels ready to be consumed; mussels that we allow the opposition to sip their unoaked chardonnay to.

We have been flung on the back of a wagon. Rag and bone! Rag and bone! Disrespected and turned into droids.

For there is little humanity recognisable in this team. Little by way of freedom, risk and flair. Instead, we have profiles, high pressing and athleticism apparently.

We have pawned any skill that might have had the impudence to still loiter around Poolfoot Farm. But hey, we can run, we can chase, we can blink our eyes before the winter sky and go blind.

There were contaminated personalities on that pitch on Tuesday night. Players that have strayed so far from their identity that it will require a crime scene reconstruction.

Bobby Grant, that heavy oil tanker of a footballer, who once possessed great shooting boots. Now, there appears to be a dash of arrogance and blame.

Nathan Pond, that stalwart and ever-present phenomenon, but the final curtain call is close.

Toumani Diagouraga – still pointing at the floor.

Even the greats – Ashley Hunter, Kyle Dempsey and Conor McAleny – are being asphyxiated by this rotten Rosler railroad, this hopeless hustle towards ‘success’.

In the past, man has been first. In the future, the SYSTEM must be first.

Has Rosler been swotting up on Frederick Winslow Taylor, the no-good scientific shyster who deadened humanity with the words efficiency and productivity?

One can only sneak into his house and check under his pillow. Question his family. Ask them how he eats his muesli.
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The substitutions on Tuesday night said a lot about Rosler’s frame of mind. In the 78th minute, before that fatal Shrewsbury second goal (82’), he brought on a full-back (Lewie Coyle) for a full-back (Gethin Jones) – the equivalent of picking a blade of grass from the Highbury turf.

What Fleetwood needed at that moment was the galloping Markus Schwabl, the West German buckaroo, the hair-in-your-face earthiness of our real protector and tempo man.

For what Schwabl did on Saturday, 6th January against Leicester City in the third round of the FA Cup has been unparalleled so far this season. His is not a fine art, but he can tackle. He can impose himself. He can wade into tight spots and come away with the ball.

He allows the craft of Dempsey, Hunter and McAleny to flourish.

When Andy Pilley, Fleetwood’s chairman, next shuts his front door and settles down for tea, light banter and contemplation, he must be thinking some of these things. He must be thinking how his axe effectively came down on Micky Mellon after 50 months, Graham Alexander after 34 and Steven Pressley after barely 10.

And now, 18 months into Rosler’s reign, how disappointment has manifested itself once more. On the pitch. In the crowd. In the boardroom. And even in the cry of the programme sellers.

One senses with Pilley that he needs to see style and self-belief. And neither of those characteristics are evident at the moment. The players have been drained of their souls. Perhaps over-coached. And if the source of this malaise is not rooted out soon, Fleetwood will fall down the chute into League Two.

Rosler’s stats are the only thing keeping him standing at the moment. His 42.6% win percentage set against his predecessors’ 38.6% (Alexander), 27.5% (Pressley) and 51.5% (Mellon; although largely non-league).

If those stats soften, however, and the aftershave gets weaker and weaker, then Rosler might find his car turned away at the training ground.

The Author

Jeff Weston

Author of Wagenknecht (ALL MEN crack up at 40) and Pitchside, Ringside and Down in the Table Tennis Dens.

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