Never under-state the role of the fans
FIRST the good news: Dave Jones is having an impact at my club Hartlepool United. The last few games, particularly at home, have been a lot better. We also had a good win at Cambridge United a couple of weeks ago and were very unlucky at Blackpool last weekend.
It’s a hard job. The squad is very young indeed. As an example, we’ve got a young loanee goalkeeper, Joe Fryer, and a 17year-old right-back called Kenton Richardson who looks a lot younger than 17. I hope he can forgive me for writing that.
So it’s a young side, but they’re listening and learning. With reasonable fortune in the remaining games, we should be OK.
I know Dave and the chairman, Gary Coxall, have already sat down to talk about the budget for the summer and outlined potential targets. So, without being cocksure, we’re working on the basis that we will be a Football League club next season and, hopefully, it’s onwards and upwards
There’s no question we had high hopes for where we’d finish this season – and a relegation battle isn’t what we intended.
But, for all sorts of reasons – players have left, we’ve had some bad injuries – things haven’t gone our way. But it’s about keeping our head above water this season and making sure there are two other sides below us come the final whistle.
That’s the hard bit. I’ve got a soft spot for all the clubs down at the bottom. Newport County are a club I can really relate to.
Like Hartlepool, they come from a mining area, there’s been a lot of unemployment and not much money around. I really feel for them.
As I do for Leyton Orient supporters. Orient are a fantastic club. Not that long ago they had a foot in the Championship.
Manager after manager has proved it’s now an impossible job. You’re working under such constraints and there have been all sorts of stories about who picks the team and questions about why some clearly-talented players have left the club.
Now Danny Webb has become the latest boss to depart. He’s only a young man, and to say he was in at the deep end is a real understatement.
I think the first thing for Leyton Orient fans is that their club has to survive. They need to retake control of their club – at whatever level that is. That’s got to be the aim.
Even if they’re not in the Football League any more – and I’m not wishing that upon them– they can take inspiration from other clubs. AFC Wimbledon are the most obvious. They came up through the leagues and look where they are now. They’re more than holding their own in League One.
Our neighbours, Darlington, suffered and went tumbling down the leagues. They’re on their way back and are only two promotions away from the Football League. It’s a hard road. But it’s not an impossible one.
Either the fans or a person with the best interests of the club needs to have the ownership and I don’t think anybody can say that’s the case at the moment.
It’s been a dreadful story and, of course, one of many in the Football League.
Coventry City fans will be reading this now saying, ‘What about us?’ Another fantastic club, but look where they’re heading.
They’ve sold an incredible amount of tickets for today’s Checkatrade Trophy final at Wembley against Oxford United.
I’m sure they’re going to go and show what sort of fans they are and what sort of club it is. It’s a famous club, with an FA Cup win in my lifetime, and they spent a number of years in the Premier League.
We’ve seen their protests this year and I think they’ve won a lot of support from fellow fans.
One thing we all know: football supporters may not have the business acumen or financial clout to run their football club. But we have the best interests of it at heart. That’s the most important thing.
GOOD EFFORT: Hartlepool, in blue, went down 2-1 at in-form Blackpool last weekend