Amid the silence coming out of The Hive, Tony Kleanthous had his target, only he kept it within the four walls of the stadium. After Martin Allen decided not to stay after the club’s relegation to the National League, Kleanthous has looked for stability after going through four managers in one season.
The appointment of John Still, returning to the Barnet hot-seat he had previously sat in for 3 years before moving upstairs, followed by a short stint when the club first dropped out of the Football League after the disastrous reign of Tony Cottee.
I first came across Still in 1986, appointed as the new manager of Maidstone Utd. Within 3 years, he had his first Conference title taking them into the Football League but declining to stay on and returned to non-league football. He was eventually tempted into league football by Peterborough and onto Barnet in 1997.
He led the club to the play-offs twice in his time, something no Bees manager has come close to matching yet in what is now League Two. Since Still left the club, he has won the now named National League twice more with Dagenham and Luton making his a very impressive record at this level.
You can see why Kleanthous has gone for this appointment. Still is someone he trusts, as mentioned his record speaks for itself. He’s got an eye for spotting lower league talent and harnessing it into polished diamonds. And with Still resigning from the Daggers on Thursday night, no compensation is needed to pay out.
Still also knows the club, despite we’re now at The Hive and not Underhill. Some will see it as a ‘safe’ appointment, not adventurous enough but in my opinion, this might be the time Barnet stabilise as a club and build the foundations to follow in the footsteps of clubs like Lincoln City, a club re-born due to the inspired appointment of the Cowley brothers.
The National League gets harder year on year to win promotion from and Barnet will surely benefit from Still’s insight. If as reported Still has a decent size budget in which to attract new players, Barnet will be expected to finish in the top seven and possibly even book an instant return to League Two, John Akinde may still be that spearhead at the top of the attack. A full pre-season from him and those goals might be the difference between return and an extended exile. Still’s number two at Dagenham was former Bees winger and fans favourite Darren Currie and if he does return to the Bees, I think most will see that as a successful start to the summer.