Bernard McNally column: One step forward and two back for Shrewsbury Town
It’s amazing just how quickly your fortunes can change in football.
It feels like only two minutes ago we were celebrating back-to-back wins over Peterborough and Doncaster – two sides competing to finish in the top six.
The draw at home to AFC Wimbledon was disappointing. But it was still seven points from a possible nine.
And there was a real sense Town were heading in the right direction and would secure their League One status for another year.
But consecutive losses to Rochdale and Plymouth have really changed the mood around Sam Ricketts’ side.
It feels as though all the hard work from that good run has been undone. It’s like we took a big stride forward but two big strides back.
And that is incredibly frustrating.
I know fans are concerned and a lot aren’t happy with team selection.
Sam is very big on squad rotation and I can understand that at times.
But we aren’t Man City or Liverpool and still competing in a host of different competitions.
The only aim for the season is to avoid relegation but the games are starting to disappear quickly.
For me, Shrewsbury now have to play their best XI every week.
We are in March, all the players are fit so there is no need to chop and change.
I think you play your best XI and you give them the chance to impress. But if they don’t, you have players who are then ready to come and step in.
It’s difficult for Sam at the moment, but he will live or die by his decisions, he would be the first to say that.
But we now need to turn the corner, starting with the game against Wycombe on Saturday.
They are a very direct side, arguably the most direct in League One.
But we need to get a result because the bottom four are closing in.
I thought AFC Wimbledon were as good as down but they have done remarkably well over the past few weeks.
Bradford have also appointed a new boss in Gary Bowyer who knows the league inside out.
Wycombe is going to be a battle. When you play teams that are direct the first thing you have to do is match their work ethic.
Then from that point you can get the ball down and play.
It’s going to be tough, the next eight weeks are going to be tough.
It’s now all down to mentality. It’s about getting over this poor run and stringing some results together. And it’s also about making sure, when things don’t go Shrewsbury’s way, the players don’t let it get to them.
If they stay mentally strong I believe Shrewsbury will stay up because the quality is there.