The Cross Word: Accepting fate now can help future

Ryan Taylor. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ryan Taylor. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey celebrated Brett Pitman's opening goal against AFC Wimbledon earlier this season

Win pair of tickets to Pompey v AFC Wimbledon

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The five stages of grief begins with denial and ends with acceptance.

In between anger and depression are included, as coming to terms with sorrow evolves.

The overriding realisation is nine points to the top seven with eight games to go is, by any reasonable stretch, too big a gap to bridge.

Sounds eerily familiar Pompey fans doesn’t it?

It’s pretty clear where things now stand when dealing with the reality of another season in League Two.

There may be mood swings through all of the above, when it comes to what Blues supporters are feeling about a third successive season in the league’s basement division.

But the overriding realisation is nine points to the top seven with eight games to go is, by any reasonable stretch, too big a gap to bridge.

Six points with nine games, as it would have been with a Cheltenham win, yes. Nine points with 14 to go after Tranmere? Certainly.

The AFC Wimbledon loss, though, has extinguished even the most optimistic of optimists’ hopes of a late charge towards the end-of-season party.

So what comes next?

Well, first of all, don’t expect any public statements acknowledging that it is indeed a forlorn hope to make the play-offs.

Andy Awford has chosen to keep his own counsel on ambitions and dance around the questions he has to face to that extent.

Awford has also said all the right things about not looking too far ahead with plans.

But there are clearly a lot of decisions to be made, with 11 players out of contract this summer.

Tuesday saw an inevitable call arrive over Patrick Agyemang’s future a little ahead of schedule.

With it being two months since Nicky Shorey started a game, he is certain to follow when his existing agreement comes to a close.

The harsh realities of being ruled out for 16 months – and making just five appearances in his time at Pompey – means Tom Craddock is sadly facing an uncertain future.

Ben Chorley has made just four appearances in 2015 and, although he’s often worn the captain’s armband this season, there is little doubt his influence is waned with his manager.

The chances of a new deal are remote.

Danny East has been injured and out on loan and has it all to do to get a contract.

Few would have backed Joe Devera to make 35 appearances this season but he has surprised many doing so.

Will it be enough to warrant a new offer, though, or will the view be there are better alternatives among the hundreds of free agents?

Ryan Taylor’s partnership with Matt Tubbs and the memory of fit-again Wes Fogden’s form 12 months ago make them favourites to be offered new terms.

But there are marginal calls to make – and the final eight games can form opinions.

Can Dan Butler show he’s the future down the left?

Is Adam Webster ready to be a central defender in League Two?

And what can Fratton youngster Ben Close do?

Teenage striker Conor Chaplin has a senior contract but are there other Academy youngsters who can benefit from being in a first-team squad?

These final eight games can now be a useful tool in forming important decisions over players.

It’s gladdening to say things are today looking secure off the pitch, as a superstore’s framework encloses Fratton Park.

On it, though, there are a lot of questions to be answered.

The summer will, no doubt, be the time to assess what takes place at the top. That looming on the horizon could clearly limit any desire to try too many different options.

But, now there’s acceptance, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be the right thing to do.