I’ve never been much of a fan of football club managers. All too often they are recycled products of previous failures, some taking home a sackload of money each month and many on a contract that actually rewards failure very considerably. A bit like bankers.
After the difficult to measure regime of Steve McMahon we had the inexperienced and unsuccessful Colin Hendry followed by Simon Grayson. Now here was a good professional (as indeed had been CH) who had played for Blackpool and got us promoted to the slightly dizzy heights of the Championship. And, on gates that more befitted League 1 and training facilities more often seen at League 2 or non-league clubs, kept us there. Mind you, I remain to be convinced how good a manager he was. I thought he bought quantity rather than quality, a note often sounded on this board, but that could have been managerial inexperience more than anything else. He still has to prove himself at Leeds but I wish him well; he seems a nice guy. Next up was Tony Parkes who would always be an interim appointment and, in my view, was more suited to a role as 2ic.
So what about our new manager Mr Holloway? Well he has succeeded in changing my attitude. Suddenly I feel sympathetic and empathic towards a manager. Probably for the first time. Ever. Is it his talent on the training ground and communication skills off it? Nope. I have no way of assessing those yet. But here we have a guy who has started with real enthusiasm and in who now one senses desperation increasing daily. We have a team in which the only really significant changes from the end of last season are the loss of the excellent Campbell and probably the best centre-half in the Championship. Euell looks a good replacement for the former but otherwise the cupboard looks terribly bare.
It is not Mr Holloway’s fault.
For the first time in a while I feel truly angry about the lack of management skills at the highest echelon of the club. I have never been enthusiastic about the most recent Oyston regime but at least we were not in debt. But now we seem lacking both in direction, enthusiasm and, most important of all, information. Before retirement I managed an organization with an annual budget of £125m and over 5000 staff. I may or may not have been a good manager – that’s for others to judge – but the one I learnt very quickly is that good management requires three things. Firstly, good communication with staff and customers, secondly good communication with staff and customers and thirdly the same. Good budget control and sound investment are clearly important but it’s communication that makes the day. We are not seeing that at my precious football club.