Back to the Slow Lane?
Call me cynical, but I honestly believe Peter has been brought in for one specific reason,,,
to place the club back in the slow lane.
He has previous, he has performed this exact task before successfully. Martin was badgered out the door with an extremely high wage bill and his wife’s illness bearing most of the responsibility. The latter may have been true to some extent but his Villa appointment within a year showed it for what it was, a convenient excuse to deflect supporters attention.
Like Martin, our new manager is ambitious and sees a sleeping giant needing only to be woken then steered.
Like Martin the process has started with a bang and has got the support dreaming of becoming a true footballing force once again.
Crucially, and unlike Martin, the plan is actually self-sustaining needing no bankrolling from above.
Ange would grow the team organically, improving by increments over time, the income from player sales continually invested into a higher level of player in each and every position. This takes time and a true eye for a player, he has both.
It also needs support from the club’s hierarchy which is now very much in doubt.
Our motto is currently “One Club since 1888” which is basically the easiest way to tell your business partners and rivals that “you died” without having to admit that sorry fact in public.
In reality our motto should be switched to “Take It Easy” for that’s how the suits like to approach the beautiful game.
The board don’t like men on a mission, men with ambition and plans. They prefer the controllable local who is fortunate to take up the hot seat, easier all around as they can’t really make demands nor ignite the support’s expectations which goes against their take it easy philosophy.
For starters the suits go out of their way to make sure the league is the main event and never relegated to the sideshow with European football the main event. Making winning the SPL enough was Peter’s greatest trick. It’s not enough, I remind you that the biggest club in the land by some distance should win the league most years. This terrible strategy also helps out our business partners/rivals by never tearing too far ahead and subsequently turning the league into a yearly romp.
We witnessed the result when that happened, 30k crowds and closed top tiers for Ronny Delia when there was no European football and almost zero domestic challengers.
We’ve reached the stage we’re Ange is swatting aside all domestic challengers, and now running up debt is off the table to help others catch up.
The SPL is quickly becoming the sideshow and not the main event, this is something our shot callers take steps to avoid.
Unlike Ronny, we have a plethora of exciting players to keep the fans attending and engaged, Henke helped keep the numbers high even when placed into the slow lane, but history and experience tells us these stars won’t be replaced with better players which is Ange’s stated goal.
Not matching that ambition is a surefire way to lose the Greek Australian, and Dermot knows exactly the man for the job.
Unfortunately Peter does have some ammunition and unlike the Res12 smoking bullet he will actually fire this time.
The obvious two are squad size and wage bill.
Expect both to gain much more prominence over the coming months, and the obvious way to address these is releasing players and not replacing them.
Promised contract improvement talks will be shelved to help nudge some out the door (G-Mak and Liel spring to mind) and out of contract players will not be retained (Joe Hart) to help bring down the wage bill to what is considered acceptable by the boardroom.
Basically decisions about players will be taken out of the managers hands, and I think it’s safe to say Ange won’t like others making the big calls regarding his special project.
I fear the commencement of a divide and conquer campaign.
‘Can’t afford what he wants’ which hints that the financial health of the club is at stake, maybe the club itself, which gives off the impression the board are merely protecting the club despite no signs this is even remotely necessary.
‘Not making an impact in Europe so why stay on this path’ which ignores the fact smaller clubs need to build a strong squad over time, plus the fact we should actually continually try to make an impact rather than just collect league title after title.
Those across the city showed what a settled and practiced style of play can achieve by getting to a European final via their team shape and tactics after three years of honing their game.
Ultimately Ange could embarrass our board and in particular Dermot with his achievable plans, and these guys are not the type to allow egg on their face.
He doesn’t need or want deep pockets, but will produce his own revenue to progress with.
This plan leaves the board powerless, and these people like to be in control.
He doesn’t want to take it easy but rather hit second and third gear now, right now.
This leaves the prospect of supporter unhappiness and Lord forbid some hard questions when the club is placed in the slow lane again.
Watch and learn folks. Listen to and analyze the leaks that will emerge, check out if the fan forums continue, study Ange’s words and let’s see if he praises the board or the players and support.
Will the manager, team, and support be maneuvered back into slow lane?
It certainly looks that way to me and for once in my life, I sincerely hope I’m wrong.
Deepest condolences to our esteemed contributor Saltires En Seville for the loss of his mother.
May she rest in eternal peace.