MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: Shock signing and victory have proved the right medicine
1:41pm Tuesday 25th March 2014 in Sport
PANIC OVER and crisis hopefully averted with Newport County AFC finally back to winning ways over the weekend.
They certainly made us sweat on it, even the biggest optimists such as myself pushed to question their unerring faith in the Justin Edinburgh project with confidence and performances at their lowest ebb in his tenure.
I was absolutely dismayed by some of the body language of the County players and staff in last week's game with Dagenham and Redbridge and it makes our job as club reporters somewhat tougher.
How can we take seriously claims from the players that the spirit in the camp is good when heads are dropping to the extent they were last week? Tom Naylor said after the Daggers game that everyone in the dressing room, "is best mates," but it certainly didn't come across that way.
In my previous eight years of covering the club, to my recollection, a player has turned down an interview with the Argus twice before this season. This campaign it has happened four times and three of those occasions are within the past fortnight.
When the chips are down, it is easy to hide away. Especially as every interview we've run recently has been met with comments along the lines of: "I wish the players would shut-up and stop talking and start winning."
When Andre Villas Boas opined last season that Arsenal were in 'a negative spiral' he turned out to be laughably wrong, but the expression is a neat one and absolutely applied to the Exiles.
They've endured almost a Perfect Storm of unfortunate events this season and weren't ultimately able to cope, January, February and March decimating their hopes of reaching the play-offs in their first season back in the Football League.
The Exiles have endured an injury-list unlike any I can remember from seasons gone by, the loss of top scorer Aaron O'Connor for the whole season and key defender Byron Anthony for a large portion of it, bitter blows indeed.
There are only a handful of County players who haven't been sidelined long-term this season and the pitch woes at Rodney Parade coupled with rain we see only every 250-years stacked up against them.
Once you enter such a spiral of negativity, everything that can go wrong, will. That might mean both goalkeepers getting injured in the same week, or O'Connor having another set-back, or even just an incident in a game, like say, you're winning 1-0 at Morecambe and then a wily winger flings himself to the floor with all the drama of a Covent Garden mime artist and wins his side a penalty, a man advantage and ultimately, the game.
With each passing disappointment, it has been harder and harder to plot a way out for County.
However, win they have and though it might have been at the bottom club in League Two, we know that means little. Class and form are highly interchangeable in the fourth tier and any three points, especially away from home, is tough to obtain.
However, the Exiles hit on several things that could be key for them between now and the end of the season on Saturday and credit is due.
Firstly, the signings on Friday of Kevin Feely and of course, Wales' Darcy Blake.
The man I saw mark Wayne Rooney completely out of the game at Wembley in 2012 and who threatened to make Newport's James Collins (still in the Premier League) obsolete at international level just two years ago, that Darcy Blake.
This is a signing to eclipse any other in the past decade, surely the first and only time Newport have announced a signing who just hours later gets a call from FAW officials enquiring if there is any way he can be assisted in returning to fitness?
Blake might not be in the greatest shape after a disaster move to Crystal Palace and 18-months on the sidelines, but League Two is at least two tiers below his level and he'll shine brightly for County. This is a Fifa or Football Manager signing, sometimes real life is stranger than fiction.
The timing of his signing was impeccable and it's a statement from the Exiles who will be only too aware that they've been accused of taking their eye off the ball at board level.
However, the elephant in the room at this time remains the situation with Mike Flynn and David Pipe and boss Edinburgh would perhaps be wise in this instance to soften his stance.
I have no issue with him being prepared to make a big decision on players and understand perfectly why he made the call he did with their clauses.
However, Flynn especially is in good form, he was before his hiatus from the side and he really impressed on Saturday as captain, winning the Argus star man accolade.
It seems foolish to entirely close the door on the pair, rather than leave it slightly ajar for two men who clearly love the club. Why not let them prove you wrong? At least give them the opportunity to do so?
County still have 27 points to play for this term and by my reckoning, a good 60% of the squad, maybe even a touch more, are playing for their futures at the club in the remaining nine games.
The Exiles have back-to-back winnable home games this week and the crazy fact is, were they to earn six points, they'd be a minimum of four points off the play-off spots again.
I'm not even sure anymore that Newport County are ready for League One, certainly not off the field, but it never hurts to dare to dream does it?
But I'll settle for a lift from the gloom. Let's hope that thanks to Darcy Blake and Co. the remainder of the season will be a lot more fun that the last couple of months.
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