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…….

Patience starting to wear thin

Tuesday evening under lights at The Hive. Another Tuesday, and another chance to get a National League win but the games are ebbing slowly away in what is still a surreal season of watching games taking place in an empty stadium via video links.

The last time Barnet met Yeovil was in the play-offs in June, I was sitting at The Hive watching the game with fellow Bees fans in the Legends Bar, a 2-0 win with goals from Paul McCallum and Mauro Vilhete, a memory that seems a very long time ago but not even a year old such is the weight this current season puts on the mind.

The highlights before this game of last season’s opening day encounter, the cheers and sight of fans inside the stadium, a win courtesy of a Simeon Akinola penalty, pleasure once more but nostalgic.

Expectations going into a game now are so different, Saturday at Hartlepool was about keeping the score down and not embarrassing ourselves on national television, against Yeovil, well keep it competitive, sad how far we’ve fallen in the space of nine months or so.

An unchanged team was expected against a Glovers side who a few months back were below the Bees after a tough start to the new campaign although a good run of results through December and January moved the side away from the relegation zone.

From the off, it was evidently clear which way this game was going, Scott Loach called upon to tip the ball round the post with less than a minute on the clock after the Glovers were able to just run at the Barnet defence, a theme that then occurred for ninety plus minutes to come.

One struggle all season has been defending set pieces or restarts as Tim Flowers likes to call them and once again they were the undoing of Barnet.

Just twelve minutes on the clock and a corner clipped in was blocked by Dunne on the line, but the rebound prodded home by Jimmy Smith. Whilst we digested going behind yet again, Barnet conceded again just sixty seconds later, another corner into the box and Billy Sass-Davies unmarked headed down and into the net as the Glovers extended their lead.

But then out of nowhere, the Bees reduced the deficit, from a set piece of their own, JJ Hooper with a hooked shot into the top corner giving Adam Smith no chance, mad fifteen minutes and three goals in the game.

The Glovers eased off a little after that, likely surprised that Barnet had indeed found the net, that being my primary concern before the game we’d forgotten where it was. Once again though it was as good as it got for the Bees over the course of the game as ill-discipline took over.

Tomi Adeloye picked up a yellow card for a foul just before the half hour mark followed by a second and a red card seven minutes later for blocking a free kick, the referee causing some confusion by not realising immediately he had already booked Adeloye earlier and the Bees left to play an hour with ten men and a goal behind.

Adeloye’s contribution since arriving late last week is no shots on target that I can recall, a yellow card on his Saturday debut and now a one match ban for the Tuesday night sending off, leave you to make of that what you will.

Flowers tried something different at half time withdrawing skipper James Dunne for centre back Themis Kefalas to go three at the back with a slight push on for Miles Judd and Richard Taylor but within five minutes of the restart Loach was forced into two more smart saves to keep the Bees within one goal of the visitors.

The change failed to work and ended up with Kefalas moving into central midfield to allow Alexander McQueen to head out to the right hand side where once again an opposing team was getting most joy at working the ball into the box.

Just before the hour mark Yeovil put their mark on the three points, Rhys Murphy getting in front of McQueen to flick the ball goal wards surprising Loach who was unable to keep it out.

Judd’s miscued cross gave Smith something to think about in the Glovers goal, tipping the ball over the bar and the closest the Bees came to a second. Chasing the game with ten men for so long allowed Yeovil to dictate the play with Barnet merely feeding on scraps and the visitors wrapped it up with a fourth goal ten minutes from time Josh Neufville curling home with Loach well beaten to send the Bees to yet another defeat.

I could easily cut and paste week after week at the moment, nothing changes in the positive with each passing game. One win in twenty games between two managers and a shed load of players isn’t doing anything except carry on in the wrong direction.

Ten goals shipped in the last three games tells its own story, but the back four are now all Flowers’ players, how long do you give it? The ball doesn’t stick up front, the midfielders are not box to box players so do you change your tactics to suit what you have for this season until you can get the personnel you want?

Blame can be accredited in lots of areas, we can go back to the end of those play-off games to start the trail, many a conversation has been had across social media in the last 24 hours. Tony Kleanthous should have moved quicker from that point to part ways with Darren Currie, the meeting took too long to happen which then delayed the appointment of Peter Beadle and the signing of players.

No time for a decent pre-season and players to bed in, Beadle was already falling off the tightrope then and the wobble was beginning. Out of his depth and then gone, Flowers brought in after not being good enough for the job in the summer, squad enlarges but results don’t change so what do you do now?

Do you say thanks it’s not any better than the last chap and change managers again? Whoever is in charge is going to have to get a tune out of the 30 odd pro’s we have on the books, the question is though why isn’t Flowers getting tunes out of the players he has brought in?

There could be a divide between three sets of players, some not listening to what is being asked of them and the others trying to implement and the end result is nothing.

We are where we are because we deserve to be, it’s not been anywhere near good enough and while the chairman and managers can shoulder the actions as to why we are looking ahead full steam at relegation the players all need to step up and prove they’ve got something to get the club out of the mess.

There is growing concern that underneath us some of the North and South clubs will play on which means relegation is likely to be back on the agenda, that decision will not be known for a few more days but if that doesn’t get things twitching around The Hive then we might just as well pack up, furlough, and accept a place in the National League South next year.

Maybe now is not the time for inquisitions etc, but something must change very very quickly but in all likelihood there aren’t very many signs to show that it will and across social media its plain to see that a lot of fans have now given up watching streams etc and a fanbase that was united last season is now fractured once again through a series of miscalculated decisions, now where have we heard that one before…………

Back the boss or survival we won’t make

Well, where do we go from here? Having just sat through Barnet getting tanked by local rivals Boreham Wood in front of the nation on BT Sport, it’s no wonder I’m writing this one with a bottle of beer beside me! I think to describe what Barnet FC look to me and many others as a shambles or utter embarrassment is the polite way of looking at it.

Really the only way is up given we are currently second from bottom, three points off Dover Athletic who have four games in hand while the gap going the other way is growing week on week while the Bees look cast adrift.

I don’t doubt Tim Flowers knew the size of the task when he stepped in the door at The Hive a few weeks ago, this evening he is under no illusion now. The display against Wood goes deeper than just this one game, this has been the pattern of the previous 13 games and is why the goal difference of now minus 24 and just 11 goals in the opposition net, that might be this season but again it goes even deeper than that.

You can go back as far as 2010 when it comes to managerial appointments that haven’t worked appointed by the chairman Tony Kleanthous, well even further if you count Tony Cottee, Mark Stimson, Lawrie Sanchez and of course the saviour of the vision in Mark Robson in 2012. Enter Edgar Davids that time to drag the club to the final day of the season which when he arrived they had no right to get that far, but ultimately unable to stay in the Football League.

Then we have the debacle of 2017-18, five managers in a year. Nugent, Eames, McGhee, Westley, Allen, the latter arriving like Davids with the club rooted to the foot of the table but with less time and games to invoke the ‘Great Escape’, as per Davids taken to the final day but again not enough and relegation once again to the National League and to today’s bottom three position currently staring relegation to the National League South, yes I kid you not, that is the stark reality of the situation.

Ten league games without a win shows the mess the club is in; Beadle quite rightly was sacked well out of his depth. His appointment was made far too late into the summer, he wasn’t even a name mentioned in dispatches and his recruitment was poor. Being based towards the West Country and having operated mostly below National League level, it was remarked to me ‘what does he know about players at that level’ and ‘does he know his budget won’t go far on London players’.

That person wasn’t far wrong I can tell you from what we see in front of us. Did Darren Currie do the right thing and protect his fledgling reputation given that we heard the budget wasn’t big enough to rebuild the squad? I know from speaking to people within the game our budget is still not too shoddy for that division so to me that suggests Beadle didn’t know what was good enough for it to be spent on.

The cheaper or untested option hasn’t worked in the past Robson being the prime example but at least Davids had something to work with including sticking himself out there to play, Flowers has not been left with a lot and those who are decent enough are shorn of any confidence.

So far two more have arrived on loan in Ben Fox and Myles Judd, both impressing with a debut red card, not the fault of the boss but when you’re down there needing fighters, missing players are not much help. Flowers alluded to a couple more players coming in next week, so with Beadle and Jenkins seemingly paid off, Flowers coming in with a backroom staff and four players so far when more are going to be needed, would it not have been more sensible to have done this first time around in the summer especially when it’s understood Flowers interviewed then?

I don’t like to dig players out as under-performers, can be any number of reasons for it but what I saw tonight was a player who looked the route cause of the defensive issues.

When Ben Nugent was signed, pedigree looked what we needed with a solid amount of Football League appearances and I felt if that is the calibre we could get then the season might not turn out so bad. But for a six foot odd centre half who is incapable of defending with his head, you can’t excuse that. Three assists he picked up tonight for the opposition and one poor clearance went backwards for nearly a fourth only for another fine save from Scott Loach, who if it wasn’t for the Bees keeper we would have been five or six goals down by half time.

Leadership from senior players with that experience you expect better but you watch the same on repeat from week to week it wears a little thin and he must be one of the first to be sitting things out.

The finer point of tonight’s ramblings? Unless Kleanthous backs Flowers for exactly what he wants and needs just for the club to survive then National League South is where the club will be come next season, it is nowhere near strong enough on the pitch and whilst others around us are now starting to pick up points and many have games in hand on us improvement has to start this coming Monday.

The buck stops at the chairman’s door, no question, and not for the first time. At the time in the summer when he went for Beadle and not someone with the experience to manage at this level coupled with the later start to the season it was either going to be a wise move not to spend loads or blow up badly which the current position says we’re in the latter category.

The only thing on our side is the fact there are still plenty of points to play for but with no backing we might as well pack up and take the relegation now. Flowers has the ability and passion for Barnet to survive in the National League but stop messing around with the club, us as supporters deserve better.

It wasn’t to be, but it can bee

The promotion dream is over for another year, and with it the end of the 2019/20 season for Barnet. Ironically today on my Facebook memories was first time I sat down with Darren Currie, the first time these blog stats went a bit nuts!

Two consecutive weekends, and 2-0 scorelines on both occasions, but this time the Bees were on the wrong end of it and with that Notts County were off to Wembley. Quite rightly, Currie named the same eleven as started at Yeovil with Shaq Coulthirst and Simeon Akinola returning to the bench, although how fit both really were came to show later in the game.

As Currie eluded to in his post match interview, Barnet were better in-between the boxes, but lacking inside both boxes compared to last weekend, perfectly summed up and the difference between the two sides. As Bees fans we knew losing three of your starting back five would be a hard ask all through these play-offs, that as we know weakened our midfield and against a very good outfit like County you will suffer.

I’m not going to single anyone out, don’t think the players deserve that, County had that little bit extra, worked hard on not allowing any supply into Josh Walker and Paul McCallum, that gave us a lot more to think about this time around. Take three of their best players out of that starting line up and the odds might have evened up a little bit, but good luck to County in the final, promises to be a very good game against Harrogate Town.

The attention now though turns to Currie, his contract and that of the players. As we know from the video interview a few weeks ago, September is when his notice period ends and is a free agent. Rumours from Southend do not go away although the Essex outfit are less than stable and I would be surprised if they don’t go for an experienced head to steady the ship. Not taking anything away from Currie, he has supplied the solid base for something to happen at The Hive, but it’s one season in. The ball there is firmly in Tony Kleanthous’ court and in my opinion a contract offer for two years should be on the table by the end of this week at the latest.

Failure to do so will set this club back years again, which is why we end up in the circle we do. Currie finally has the opportunity to build his own team and squad having worked with those who were not his own, he should be given the chance to do so. We’ve seen the quality of the players he had brought in, James Dunne, Scott Loach and McCallum, he knows a player when he sees one.

I know there are 7/8 players considering offers, I’ve no idea how many will commit to another season at The Hive. If the manager is given almost the freedom to construct a side to win a championship players will buy into it, if Kleanthous drags his heels it could be the difference between years stuck in the National League bumbling along or having a real good crack at it.

It’s looking like being the biggest decision to make at Barnet FC for a few years, the support is closer to the team for the first time in I would say five years, the chairman can either embrace it or ignore it and if it’s the latter then I can see plenty wanting to turn their back on the club and it would show where the football club ranks in the whole scheme of things.

McCallum signing permanently will set the marker, it needs to happen to show ambition, anything less and you’re almost resigned to being happy to chug along in the middle of things. Macca showed in just a few games for us the quality, the difference between champions and also-rans, for me he would be the modern day Grazioli or Akinde.

I’m expecting the season to start on 12th September as per the EFL and Premier League, 19th at the latest, not long to build a side and to get your house in order, the clock at The Hive is ticking………..