by Steve Hoad
So the manager has been appointed, all a bit of a damp squib really in the end, with all the hype, anticipation, and some of the exotic names put into the frame.
The papers didn`t seem to make so much of it either, perhaps it didn`t lend itself to sensationalism, but I saw few column inches devoted to the selection compared with the Souza appointment, so it would seem that the Press have rather lost interest in the goings on at W12, which, in itself, is a good thing. We can start this season without the hype and unrealistic expectations that gave rise to so much of the frustration and dismay we felt at times over our progress during the last campaign.
To carry on the firework analogy, it seems the approach of our owners will not be high explosive pyrotechnics, but rather a slow burn, unobtrusive, definite, measured, but understated, a quiet revolution away from the public gaze and the dissection of the Press.
The manager has been appointed, and although a little disappointed that a high profile, experienced name was not attracted, I wasn`t convinced by any of those names bandied about, albeit I did fancy the suggestion of attracting Zico.
The manager has been appointed and I have an open mind and a positive outlook. Give the boy a chance. He has my support, and some day, perhaps, someone might even teach me the correct pronunciation of his surname. It seems the Board have been very careful with this selection, meeting with Magilton four times to discuss the marriage. The reason behind the care can only be a matter for conjecture, but I cannot believe it was a decision taken lightly. I imagine they realised they needed to make a good durable choice this time around, they also must also be aware of the need for stability, and if a candidate that impressed them hadn`t presented himself, I believe they would have carried on their search.
I tried previously to take a step back from the passions and emotions of the last (lost?) season and see what the cold facts tell me vis-à-vis the board`s stated four year plan.
In the first year, they (the cold facts) demonstrate that relegation was avoided and a firm platform established for the following season. I believe this is what the board had said was their goal in year one, so that was achieved.
During last year, the second in the plan, the cold facts point to us having consolidated our position in the league. Relegation was never really a rational fear, although, conditioned as we have been previously, to expect it, it did raise itself in our minds, and its sceptre loomed as a possibility – the ghost of seasons past.
In the event, we stayed in the top half of the league throughout. We had high hopes to start with, probably unrealistic, and certainly fanned by the misplaced and perhaps irresponsible comments of the press and bookies, but injuries did take a BIG toll. Four major players out for virtually the whole season, it had to have a significant effect. Re-enforcements were brought in, high calibre players our precarious previous predicament would have prohibited. There was disruption as they settled in, and experimentation with positioning and formation. The opening expectations were not delivered which led to the feeling of a lost season.
But was it lost? If my memory serves me correctly, the stated aim of the owners for the second year of the “project” was one of consolidation, so that too was achieved.
There are many other areas in which we would like to see improvements. The owners have made starts on these. Maybe not fast enough for the liking of some, but Rome was not built in a day. The pitch is being re-layed which will bring benefits to the quality of football played, and there have been other, mainly commercial, improvements.
So that brings us to the start of year three, just a couple of months away now. My recollection is that according to the owners` plan, this is the year of the push for promotion. Pity it didn`t happen last year, but I have suggested reasons why this was not to be.
My view is that the board have learned from their experiences and experiments (some may say mistakes) over the last two years. Experiments with overseas players and managers – I still say that Ledesma was one for the future, but Parejo demonstrated the cultural and application differences, although I do hope that they find a place for Lopez.
The manager has been chosen after careful consideration – I understand that Flavio was never behind the Dowie selection, but he has come out in favour of Magilton, so we must assume there is solidarity behind that selection.
I am satisfied that the owners are behind Magilton. And I remain firm in the view that the owners are serious about their third year target of promotion. I cannot help but believe that they will support Magilton unless it becomes apparent that he has no hope delivering this goal.
I also believe that we now have the ingredients for a realistically hopeful season, with a carefully selected manager, pivotal players returning to the fold, notable signings last season (and I`m thinking about Routledge and hopefully Lopez, rather than Borrowdale, whoever he might be), and some promising youngsters, Balanta springs immediately to mind, although there are others, German for instance.
I am sure this is a stronger squad than last session with Vine, Buzsaky, Agyemang, and Rowlands returning for the full season and hopefully no further long term injuries. Given time to gel, and assuming they regain their former form, this side has the potential to perform far better than any team we have had for a number of years, perhaps a decade or more! The owners have set the target for the big push this season, and if it is not happening, I would not be surprised to see signings designed to make it happen. That does not necessarily rule out some pre-season signings.
When you are accustomed to the glamour of F1, have a pedigree of success, and a stated goal for your current “project”, you are unlikely to tolerate, for long, the mediocrity of a consolidated position mid way down the second tier of English football.
Perhaps there may still be some fireworks yet.
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