Guest series: Reaction to the Beespod Tony K interview part 2

“We’re on our way!”

I’ve listened to part 2 of the Beespod interview now and it has raised some interesting discussion points. I really enjoyed writing the last article, so thought I would finish the job and review part 2 before the novelty wears off or one of you has a chance to tell me to stop!


 A little like part 1, when TK talks us through the timeline relating to the start of the on-off-on again National League season, it makes sense that with his National League Board hat on, he would have been privy to info that would have led him to believe that there was little chance of the league season starting. As a result, player recruitment would just have been a complete waste of money, and if we know anything about TK it’s that he doesn’t like to waste money.

What I found interesting was although he was quick to point out that he wasn’t being critical of Flowers, he seemed to suggest that he thought that Beadle had performed better in his role than Flowers, with significantly fewer options available to him. There were some games when we looked reasonable under Beadle, I don’t think we played 45 mins of football under Flowers where we looked even vaguely decent. Even now when I look back, I’m still astonished by quite how poor we were. We were indeed ‘mingin’!

TK stated that he doesn’t like the term “Director of Football”, but I don’t care what he calls it. After listening to him talk about the new structure though, I actually don’t think that the DoF role, is as important as it once was, because TK has seemingly learnt from his mistakes and is taking steps to fill the individual roles that will be needed by the club moving forward if we are to reverse the decline and get anywhere near fulfilling TK’s ambition of returning to League 1.

If we have club-based recruitment, coaching, physio, medical & performance-based staff, many of which TK binned off post-relegation, then the need for someone to be working above them in an overview role isn’t really required if TK is on the ball. Even ignoring that TK had dropped the ball, without these roles filled at the club, it would have been next to impossible for anyone to have done all of them to any decent degree.

For as much as many of us have fond feelings towards Martin Allen, there is no ignoring the impact that his arrival each time meant Paul Fairclough was shunted out of the role because Mad Dog wants to be in control of everything and there is no place for a DoF. Well by the sounds of it the Mad Dog days are well and truly gone because TK will be appointing only head coaches to coach and manage the team, but the recruitment will remain in-house and despite this being what is often described as a ‘Continental model’, I have to say that I think it’s perfect for our club.

Following on from that, and going back to something I mentioned yesterday, TK sees Bassey very much as a Coach, and while that might initially suggest that there is someone else coming in above him between now and the start of next season, my thinking now is that anyone coming in above him won’t be a Manager but will be a DoF instead.

Now we get to the nitty-gritty, TK responding to Mem about the furloughing of players. He admitted that he wasn’t even aware that it was possible, until Chesterfield did it, but once they did, it isn’t really a surprise in hindsight that we followed suit. I accept that there will be some merit with regards to TK’s claim that some of it is based on keeping unhappy players away from the club rather than being financially driven, but some of that just doesn’t stack up when you start picking at the bones.

One of the players that TK specifically mentioned was Antonis Vasiliou, who he used as an example of someone who didn’t fit the Tim Flowers blueprint of a player who would be good at the “nuts and bolts” stuff that he was basing our style of play on. The only problem with using Vasiliou as an example of a player who didn’t suit the managers preferred playing style, and so should be furloughed, is that Vasiliou wasn’t furloughed. Little Antonis was in most of the Flowers match squads and is probably the only player besides Scott Loach to come out of the Flowers period with any credit at all. So why wasn’t he furloughed I hear you ask?

The reason can only be because he was earning a low wage so why bother furloughing him? The Loachy situation also raised alarm bells in so much as I don’t think TK was clear on this, I expect Loachy was furious when it happened and wouldn’t have been backwards in making his feelings known, but I also fully expect that Loachy would have agreed to come back after the injury to Aymen.

Maybe I’m just being negative by thinking that if Loachy was paid less TK would have at least picked up the phone to ask him how he felt about returning. There is a big difference between recalling Loachy from furlough without asking him how he felt about it, and doing so after a conversation to see if it was something he was interested in. You could even dress it up as a call to see how his rehab was going? Am I being too harsh? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t have blamed Loachy if he had refused to return, but from what I know of him I would have been surprised. Just to finish off on a positive though, TK did at least say that we had been topping the players wages up to 100% from the 80% paid by the government.

Something that I had heard before was that Pavey wasn’t a Currie signing and I thought it was hilarious to hear TK say that he had actually been signed instead of whoever his strike partner was at Dover, only we could sign the wrong “big lad up front at Dover”! While we’re on the subject of Pavey, I think he is possibly a player who will have benefitted from being furloughed. He really wasn’t having a good time at the club and I understand that he wasn’t happy at all when he was recalled from his loan spell, so Pavey is an example of a player that does fit in with what TK is saying about furlough, and his partner is about 7 months pregnant by now too. I really wanted to see him fight back from his injury and was gutted that it just couldn’t seem to work out for him. In his case furlough is probably good for all involved.

Surprisingly, my biggest issue with what TK had to say in part 2 wasn’t furlough related at all and was all about our performances in the play-offs last season. He said we were awful but refused to acknowledge that we had lost half a side. We only had one centre-half left at the club, Dan Sweeney & Callum Reynolds had declined to re-sign for the playoffs, our right back, Cheye Alexander, had a deal lined up with League 1 AFC Wimbledon where he has become a regular, and our set piece specialist Dan Sparkes was probably sick of sitting on the bench so he didn’t want to stay either.

The trio of Vilhete, Santos and Johnson who chose to stay and play for us in the play-offs despite effectively being free agents, is something that we should remember the next time our paths cross. You would be right in saying that we had Taylor and Johnson who were able deputies at the back, but they hadn’t been playing with Santos all season and while they certainly did a job, they were unable to perform in their regular positions. I found this astonishingly short-sighted and blinkered from TK, but maybe this was more of his lack of attention to detail during this period which seems to have been a trend. That squad, with those 5 players, Coulthirst & Akinola would have given anyone a run for their money in those games. TK suggested that we benefited from covid via the PPG decision, but I think we were nailed on to make the playoffs anyway and if anything, covid actually robbed us.

TK’s “model” of the club being funded by the surrounding business enterprises seems genius in its simplicity, and in view of the wage caps it would seem to be even more astute moving forward. Something that has concerned me quite a lot recently is that if something serious happened to TK, God forbid, I would be concerned about the long-term health of the club in the respect of who owns what and who might make the decisions in the long-run moving forward. While there are no guarantees, TK did actually mention that and it allayed my fears somewhat.

The only thing I would say, to argue against myself, is that while some might try to portray a picture of everyone leaving the club unhappy and slagging them off, Hendo represents Paul McCallum and was instrumental in him coming in on loan last season, and Graham Stack has offered us Adam Parkes who is under his tutelage at Watford. Although these individual players both benefit in different ways by coming here, Hendo, and Stacky, obviously said more positive things than negative things about the club.

I think sometimes it’s easy to believe the person who shouts loudest and maybe we should wonder why we are listening to someone who is shouting at all…… I know we are far from perfect as a club but I really liked TK’s strategy of trying to get things right 80% of the time. I personally think that’s quite a modest ambition in business, but TK is TK and I’m me so I think we’ll go for his strategy for the time being.

What I really liked about this 2nd part of the interview was his passion and dare I say it, barely disguised anger at the suggestion that there would be no place for a Supporters Association at the Hive. To be honest I thought he was quite clever. He told us all about what he was doing and basically threw it back at us and asked us what we’re doing to help. It’s very hard to argue with him although I suspect that had this not been the 1st meeting Mem/Iain might have raised the subject of ticket pricing with him, but that’s well kept for another day.

In summary I would say that I’m really hopeful after hearing this. Not just blind hope in the way that we all hope for better things in the future, but real tangible expectation of significant improvement moving forward. The last relegation really hurt us and it sounds like it was a huge body-blow to TK too, but it also sounds like he’s taken the hit, dusted himself down and is willing to come out fighting and put it right.

The problem of course though is that none of this stuff works if TK doesn’t recruit the right people and that record is poor. I would say though that it’s just the recruitment of managers that he’s rubbish at, and as he’s looking for a head coach rather than a manager, then maybe, just maybe, things will improve. Rossi Eames & Henry Newman did phenomenal work with the Academy before being moved up to the senior team, Mark Robson has proved elsewhere that he is a very good coach and should have been employed as a head coach rather than a manager, there are others if you look.

I know there are still many who are unhappy and it will take time to win them over, just as I know that there are some who are gone forever, but I think Adam Rowe is really having a positive impact at the club and we just need to get the ball moving and pick up some momentum. TK mentioned the “we’re on our way” song and it would be great to hear that again before too long. We might have a long way to go, but to get anywhere you always need to take the 1st step, I think we’re finally on our way now.

Come on you Bees!

My thanks to Jim Kavanagh for contributing these two pieces for me, hope you’ve enjoyed them!

Follow Jim on Twitter, @Jimbokav1971

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