New Manager, new Attitude?

October 18, 2005


You would think we would have got this manager lark right by now wouldn’t you? The Ian Atkins reign is now consigned to the past and again we face the familiar position of selecting a new manager. Very soon we will heap all our hopes and expectations on a new man, whoever is it I hope they succeed and can bare the pressure.

I often wonder what the most difficult type of job is in football. Is it managing a club like Chelsea where you have massive resources, but massive pressure to succeed, or is it harder to manage a lower League Two club with few resources and lower expectations?

After years of playing managerial musical chairs, I am starting to think that managing a club like Bristol Rovers is one of the hardest jobs in the country. Maybe if I was on the outside looking in I would not think that but as a long-suffering Rovers fan I do. Looking at this a little closer perhaps the hardest jobs are at clubs where the expectations are high but the budget and resources are not there to meet them.

Rovers have little money and few resources, but compared to many of their League Two counterparts have relatively high expectations and certainly up against many sides at this is level have much more potential to establish themselves as a decent football team in the long run. [image2]

Falling from the peak of League One to the foot of League Two in the space of 18 months and the following failure to bounce back has year on year heightened many fans anxieties. As every manager has come and failed these worries of ours have risen to the surface quicker and quicker it seems. It didn’t take long for fans to start sticking the knife in to Ian Atkins did it?

So what hope for the new man?

Whoever it turns out to be they will become a god in the blue half of Bristol if they can point our not so merry ship in the right direction and guide us through the storm, back to League One.

They will have to deal with plenty of obstacles on the way, not only other teams but also our own fans, and the board. The lack of funds will be a burden too, so he will need to juggle all that and produce a winning side. The only real selling point in my eyes for a new manager would be the Filton development and the prospect of some good talented youngsters coming through.

I can see the board talking to a potential manager now:

‘Right, we know we’ve had several managers in the last 6 years, but we want you take the job.

You will however have very limited funds if any at all until we can clear some players out in the summer and even then the budget will depend on season ticket sales amongst our increasingly apathetic fanbase.

‘The squad is OK, two great strikers, but has one or two over paid under performing players in it and we can’t defend for toffee. We do have lots of youngsters for you to blood in the first team though.

Oh and by way, if you do not entertain our fans and get us to the top of the table within about 12 months they’ll want you out and so might we, so…how about it?’

If someone wants a challenge, then they know which club to come to. [image3]

Paul Trollope has done a good job since he arrived, he knows the squad already, they respect him and so do the fans so he is a front runner for the post.

Paul Hart and Keith Curle are managers who have been mentioned to. Hart has a good record with working and developing young players at Nottingham Forest while Keith Curle we know a lot about already, especially after his Chester side took us part 4-0 earlier this season!

A club in a slightly similar position to ourselves is Leeds United. Now don’t go thinking ‘what is this fool doing comparing us to Leeds’, let me explain. Leeds like us have fallen from the top of one league to the bottom of the next and like us are penniless, relatively speaking of course.

A few weeks ago I was invited to Watford Vs Leeds in the Championship, a 0-0 classic if case you wondered. Stood among the Leeds fans the sense of frustration at every dodgy pass and at their general lack of quality compared to what they are used to reminded me very much of us and how frustrated we get. [image4]

What we have in common is that we both feel we don’t belong in our respective Leagues. Yet both our clubs can only throw so much money at achieving our goal of promotion, due to varying circumstances of course.

Leeds, who have eventually gone for Kevin Blackwell sit in 4th place in the Championship as I write this. Blackwell is in his 2nd season in charge and operates a small squad with a mixture of trainees and older pros who can still do a job. Blackwell’s record so far at Leeds (up until 15/10/05) is games 64, won 24, lost 19, drawn 21.

Ian Atkins record at Rovers was games 68, won 21, lost 21, drawn 24. Not a great deal of difference really. Now I am not exactly sure what it all means but it probably shows that whoever takes charge at Rovers will need to look closely at our youth squad, and that we will have to back him 110% and give him time to develop a team for the future.

As we’ve already found like Leeds,  throwing money at the problem and looking for the quick fix is rarely the right answer.


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