THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Team is low on confidence

icon relegation1219 October ~ When Wimbledon travel to Fleetwood this Saturday, even the most optimistic of Dons fans will not be anticipating a repeat of the scoreline from the last time the two sides met. With arguably their most commanding performance of that promotion-winning season, Wimbledon won the game 6-1 to go through to the Conference play-off final against Luton 8-1 on aggregate. The hero that night was striker Kaid Mohamed, who scored a hat-trick. Mohamed netted again at Kingsmeadow last weekend.

Sadly for new Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley, Mohamed's goal proved to be the winner for his new club Cheltenham and consigned the Dons to their fourth consecutive home defeat. If Ardley was unclear about how sizeable a task to halt Wimbledon's slide back towards non-League is, his first match in charge will have clarified the situation. Wimbledon are a team painfully lacking in confidence – plagued by injury, porous in defence and toothless in attack.

Having failed to win a game between October and January last season, Terry Brown's team ultimately managed to finish 16th due, in no small part, to some astute loan signings and the manager's reluctant jettisoning of his beloved diamond formation in key games towards the end of the season. However, a miserable pre-season heralded an equally depressing opening to the current campaign, in which the team took only four points in seven games. After steering the club to three promotions in five seasons, Brown appeared to have run out of energy and ideas and the home defeat to Torquay proved to be his last game in charge.

After a seemingly meticulous recruitment process, former Wimbledon player Neal Ardley has arrived from Cardiff City's academy, with Neil Cox as his assistant. Aged only 40, and in his first managerial role, this represents something of a gamble. The club insist this is not an appointment based on sentiment and that Ardley was the outstanding candidate from the 40 who applied. In his interviews he appears to be both energetic and articulate and is believed to have impressed the board with his vision for the future. Reassuringly, he also appears to be pragmatic enough to recognise that before he can begin to realise that vision, Wimbledon need to start picking up points and sooner rather than later. Shane Simpson

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