THE GRASS IS NOT ALWAYS GREENER
BOARDS CAN BE TOO QUICK ON THE BUTTON
FOR REASONS not appropriate for airing in these pages, I found myself at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton recently and just a few yards away from the brave and brilliant filmmaker Ken Loach. I just had to approach him for a chat.
What did we talk about? One of the greatest of all British films, perhaps, Kes, which he directed and which contains the best football scene ever in a film, with bullying PE teacher Brian Glover determined to dominate a school kickabout? Loach’s most recent perhaps, the radical I, Daniel Blake?
Actually, we discussed the Non-League game. He was aware of Salisbury FC, where I am vice-chairman, and our phoenix club’s quest to rise up the leagues. And I was aware of his love for Bath City.
Ken – if he’ll pardon me being over-familiar – was sad. At the state of the country as he sees it, of course, but also at Gary Owers’s departure from Twerton Park to take over at Torquay United.
They had lost a good man and manager, he reckoned. Perhaps this week’s appointment of Jerry Gill as replacement will cheer him up.
Even the great go through the same emotions as the rest of us. And when it comes to this moving month for managers, as it always is, those emotions become heightened anew. It is ‘Sacktober’. The optimism of August has given way to the realities of Autumn.
The recruitment wasn’t as good as everyone thought and neither are results. The manager is to blame and must go. Simple.
Actually, it never is. Every managerial change has a different story, a set of issues behind it. And they are not always about results. Personalities and economics also intrude, with each club’s set of circumstances different.
That much can be seen in the York City/Darlington saga of the past week. Out goes Gary Mills from Bootham Crescent after FA Cup defeat at South Shields, in comes Martin Gray from Darlo.
There, Brian Atkinson and Sean Gregan last just a few days in charge, Atkinson because he is a director of Gray’s academy and there is a conflict of interest and Gregan because he wanted a contract beyond the end of this season. The solution became a problem at Blackwell Meadows.
Early days but at Plainmoor meanwhile, Owers could be the solution to the problem, as Torquay recorded their first win in midweek, and by a convincing 4-0 over Maidenhead.
It may have also been a result that partly prompted similarly struggling Solihull Moors to fire Liam McDonald after a 3-1 home defeat by Ebbsfleet United the same night.
Results have also done for Alan Lewer at Southport. No matter injuries or suspensions, the potential to put things right, five defeats in a row at any club are hard to survive.
We have our own circumstances at Salisbury. Despite winning a title and reaching a play-off final in his two full seasons, there is a little knot of naysayers who want Steve Claridge out.
And to heck with his record of 102 wins from 135 competitive matches before yesterday – a win ratio of 75 per cent!
For a man who helped set up the new club, it is a sad ingratitude from a tiny few, but that is football. You can’t please all of the people...
Doubtless there will be more managers losing their jobs this coming week, this month. Some will deserve it – and some will even be relieved when it happens. For others it would be an injustice.
The test for any board or a committee is to see the big picture, taking into account the club’s finances, which only they really know.
While acknowledging the background noise, they have to make the decision to stick or twist with the club’s interests at heart, not the personal agendas of the loudest voices.
So decision-makers need to be careful. And supporters need to be careful what they wish for.
PRESSURE COOKER: Fans should be careful what they wish for in the case of Steve Claridge, left, while others like Gary Owers, Liam McDonald and Jerry Gill have been on the move this week FOLLOW IAN ON TWITTER @IANRIDLEY1
WRITES FOR THE NLP