Football supporters have moaned about the manager since it was all pigs’ bladders and muddy, warring villages. It’s a tradition as proud and ridiculous as any in this green and pleasant land, and in the broken English of Jean Louis Voltaire (la, la-la, la-la): “While I may not agree with your player ratings for Wimbledon at home, I’ll defend to the death your right to post them on Luton Outlaws.”
But in this feverish age of Facebook feedback fuckers and online polls, you've got to feel for a boss when it’s not going his way. Even one with the thick skin of John Still.
For, equipped with little more than an email address and flare for comparing people to Hitler, the internet has given us villagers megaphones, a ladder to your bedroom window and the key to your subconscious.
Understandably he’s looked a little bit frustrated at the muted criticism in recent weeks, and considering the adoration he’s become used to and the circumstances surrounding last season’s spluttering end, he could be forgiven for quietly cursing his chosen profession. But as he does, Still settled his hand and got on with what he knows - shockingly, better than even me or you – and that is turning one win into two, two wins into three and so on and so on until the open top bus parade.
That’s what he does best. Aside from being able to sign players that Richard Money can’t buy and developing rough diamonds into polished pros with Premier League price tags, Still’s real gift is to turn a winning streak into a movement – a precious possession for the players of Lutopia to defend with their lives. And you wouldn’t bet against him doing it again this season would you? Would you...? (PUT THAT HASHTAG DOWN.)
The beauty of this little run so far and its familiar green shoots of autumnal recovery, is not only that it fits with Still’s annual prophecy of brutal pre-season > slow start > gradual improvement > stonking winter, it’s that this past week of six points on the road has been a 900 mile Tuesday / Saturday ultra marathon the likes of which more often than not have spelled pointless despair for the Bedfordshire brethren. As it is we've leap-frogged up the league and can once again see the play-offs glimmering in the middle distant sunshine like the Minarets of Bury Park.
And so we roll on into October not having really caught fire in the way that these players can yet, but with the hope that, with the help of a red card here and a 38 year old goal keeping messiah there, John Still has chiselled out enough of a start to get the belief streaming into the shaky early season legs of one or two of the new boys, and, as the temperature starts to drop, for the waters of doubt to recede and for this little winning run of ours to really snowball.
Up the Town.