Bees fans wait a little longer

The managerial merry go round is all of a sudden in full swing and it doesn’t matter how well you’ve done at a club it can still be the final nail in the coffin.

In the past 24 hours we’ve seen Notts County dispense with the services of Neal Ardley whilst earlier on Thursday Bromley announced that they had relieved Neil Smith of his duties as First Team Manager.

You might not think too much of it as manager’s lose their jobs all the time, but both clubs are currently inside the play-off places, which if Bromley maintain their form is the highest placing the club would have ever achieved.

Does this mean managers in clubs all around these two might be fearing for their jobs? Are they worried the end is close for them whether they win a game or lose the next seven? It’s a dangerous situation being created and while we’re not privy to the ins and outs behind the decisions other than the released club statements it’s hard to work out what exactly is going on.

Similar to Jim Gannon who on the surface looked to be doing a sterling job at Stockport County, a culture change they wanted to install within the club despite at the time the club appearing well placed for some success.

Both managers appeared to be doing a good job on the pitch, the league position shows no doubt and with 14 games left to go now, the final run-in, it seems an odd time for either boss to go and now remains to be seen if either side will fall away over the course of those games.

That now means there are three current vacancies in non-league’s top division those two coupled with the Barnet job, open since the mutual departure of Tim Flowers two weeks ago, although County filled their spot quite quickly which might suggest Ardley’s fate had already been sealed.

Many and myself included were expecting an announcement to be in place in time for this weekend’s trip to Yeovil Town, Paul Fairclough saying his goodbyes after Saturday’s home defeat to Chesterfield and his three match stint was over.

 That trip to face the Glovers will be overseen by Head Of Performance Gary Anderson whilst the Bees continue to take their time in finding the right man. I believe the events of the past 24 hours have turned the chairman’s head that he is not yet convinced he has the right man for the job.

As Bees fans we know the next appointment has to be the one that can turn into the three year project that Barnet Football Club need. Having gone through two managers this season, both of which were not the right fit at all, the first we knew wasn’t, the second we hoped was but to no avail.

And whilst it might not be the best preparation for the weekend waiting just a few days longer might work out well to the advantage of the club. At the same time there is no midweek outing next week which would give Tony Kleanthous the weekend to finalise who exactly he wants in the hot seat and the structure in and around the football side of the club before the visit of Solihull Moors on Good Friday.

Can we expect Ardley or Smith to be in the frame now? I think so, at least one of them or maybe both, I don’t know what is in the thinking, both might even decide to have a few months off and see what’s available in the summer.

I would hope Smith is in the frame, not just because I know him reasonably well I think he can provide the stability we need but also is not afraid to tell it how it is. Plus his knowledge of southern based players would be an advantage if we aren’t wanting to spend out on long security of wages or relocation expenses.

I expect Dean Brennan and Harry Kewell still to be in the frame, however the longer it goes on you would think that maybe Kleanthous is not fully convinced by either appointment or he is making sure he exhausts all possible avenues.

Either way we’ve got a few more days waiting to see who’s next in the office at The Hive, but it must be done in time for Good Friday because it’s starting to look a little bit of a shambles the longer it goes on…….

Back to square one as Flowers goes

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Tim Flowers arrived at The Hive on a wave of optimism, to be the man that would bounce the Bees back up the National League table after replacing Peter Beadle. Indeed the two men who’ve occupied the Barnet dug out this season have one thing in common, they both lasted a similar amount of time.

Three months ago, Flowers arrived with the Bees just outside the bottom three, Beadle having been sacked after a 6-0 thumping at Chesterfield. The ex-Solihull Moors boss was originally been thought to have interviewed in the summer for the job but lost out to the former Bees striker and subsequently pitched up at Macclesfield Town only to not manage a game before they went bust.

And now here we are with Flowers and Barnet ‘mutually’ parting ways with the club under both managers now on a run of one win in the last 21 games. Flowers record itself in just over three months is one win in 12 games, 11 of those in the National League, Beadle’s record prior to that in all games was four wins in 16 games, only two of those victories came in the league.

Once again as a club Barnet are in familiar territory, struggling and manager less although if you know the club well enough by the time you actually read this there is likelihood of a new man in the home dugout.

What went wrong for Flowers? Well, what went right really! At the beginning his interviews were all about knowing it was a big challenge and that’s why he was there. I don’t think he underestimated the challenge but a lot more to it and now today we’re here with three different sets of players within one squad, some of whom have played three different styles of play in 12 months.

When Flowers was appointed I knew what the style would be, get it forward quick and play off the second ball, the question was always going to be whether the personnel were there to play that way or enough players could be brought in to suit the change in play. The answer in the end was neither, the players brought in haven’t blended with those already at The Hive and the style didn’t produce results, the stats tell us enough.

We have the bizarre situation of six loan players with only five of them allowed in a matchday squad, with one of those extended for a further month which appeared just to cover a further signing’s suspension carried over from his previous club.

A bloated squad of 34 professionals at the last count has seen some now placed on the furlough scheme, something which a lot of clubs are now doing in the National League, but it doesn’t sit right with me nor a lot of other people at Barnet or any other club. I hope most of those in the 34 are not contracted beyond this summer in which we will head towards another rebuild under yet another manager.

Having watched his interview after Tuesday night’s defeat to Wrexham, his body language was evident to say before a word was spoken that he had run out of ideas to get something from this bunch of players. Some have mentioned he had lost the dressing room, his constant tool of battering the players in the post-match interview didn’t go down well. Did he need to try and adapt his style to fit the players he had and could get?

To constantly concede goals from set pieces and crosses suggests the players either stopped listening or technically aren’t good enough to carry out instructions given to them during the week. Teams worked out very quickly how to beat us and it hasn’t stopped happening despite the influx of new players.

Whilst at times and very sporadically the team have looked more secure at the back, it evaporates as soon as they go a goal behind and then collapse, the stats as stated above don’t lie and in 24 league games this season the side have conceded three or more goals on nine occasions, a goal difference of minus 41 is well in excess of anyone else in the league.

Two loan strikers who have yet to find the net tells its own story as does just 18 goals in those 24 games, that end of the pitch provided no improvement under Flowers reign indeed only seven goals scored with two of those coming in the only win over FC Halifax.

So where do we go now then? As expected names are in the frame despite it surely looking like the poisoned chalice from the outside. There are plenty of out of work managers out there, but would you risk your reputation on a club that has gone through 25 managers since 2010?

In a way it’s a no lose situation for an incoming manager given the current position to try and turn it around but still a big ask for anyone worth their salt. I can’t imagine there is budget space left for any more players to come in so whoever is charged with the task will have to get a tune out of the 34 players on the books.

My personal opinion would be a caretaker until the season ends in May, can we afford to get it wrong again and sack or mutually dispense of another manager after a bad run of defeats if it comes to that? But if we go down that route, we must be ready on that first Monday after the season ends to appoint the new man, get the retained list out and start planning, not follow what we did this year and create the mess we are now deep in.

The fanbase is fractured once again, a small way to start yet another repair would be a former player or manager of the club in charge, someone who understands what Barnet FC are about. It will however take a lot more than this to get people back onside and caring about the club again, I think if I remember rightly 12 months ago people did care and enjoy it under that particular manager.

And all that comes down to one man. We can speculate the full cost of the decisions made since August it must be more than the anticipated outlay expected for 2020-21 in total. That could have been avoided from day one, I can’t say for sure we would be enjoying a fruitful campaign but I don’t think it would a relegation threatened time and most would accept that under the pandemic conditions mid-table was acceptable.

And before I get to finish the blog this evening, they pop up and announce Paul Fairclough has stepped in to ‘technically advise’ for the trips to Bromley and Stockport. Of course no stranger to the club as the 2004-05 title winning manager returns to The Hive but after a very long period out of game, surely is nothing more than a favour to Tony Kleanthous? Maybe Martin Allen didn’t answer the phone this time?

So far it hasn’t inspired Bees fans across social media and I believe that all this does is buy the chairman a week or so to evaluate the next step. As above I still believe this should be a caretaker role for someone with 18 games to go after these next two games but the next steps must be very robust in its thinking.

Names will of course be linked, Aaron McClean who had a spell here a few years ago and highly thought of as an up and coming coach, Harry Kewell, the return of Ian Hendon, Dean Brennan who appeared to turn us down before Flowers arrived and of course Darren Currie for a dramatic return.

One last thing to finish on. Tony, pick a philosophy and stick with it please. You might like going round in ever decreasing circles but as supporters we don’t and it has to change. Not everything can be done on the cheap and I think we deserve better, we’ve discovered over the last 12 months football is nothing without its fans, it has to be right this time before you lose the very people here to be entertained…………