When I opened up the floor on Twitter for blog pieces, this was another one I added to the list but one that needed to be written closer to the time rather than ‘lost in the post’ a week or so ago.
Wealdstone vs Barnet this weekend has a lot riding on it, three points essentially but of course it goes much deeper than that. I think it’s fair to note there is a fair few grudges held, namely over what is now The Hive and home to Barnet FC.
There is the bad blood between the current two bosses of both clubs to give it that extra edge and then the recent thumping the Stones dished out to the Bees last season which finally caused Tony Kleanthous to sort out his managerial problem, well at least for a few months.
I don’t want to spend too much time on the nitty gritty bits mentioned above, after all we’re there to watch a National League game on Saturday afternoon where the three points on offer are crucial for both sides.
For those reading this who don’t know and if any part is incorrect then please advise me otherwise. My understanding is the land where The Hive now sits was part completed by Wealdstone and their financial partners but was unable to be finished off. Kleanthous then identified it as a training complex for the Bees, swooped in and made it what it is today.
Reading back through historic articles online the Stones were told by Harrow council that as part of the planning agreement with Barnet they were to be allowed a groundshare on reasonable terms, that as we know has never materialised.
Now I’m not going to get into the rights or wrongs over it, you can all discuss that to death on social media, but please be pleasant. I’m sure there is added stuff to this, there might also not be but that is my basic understanding of it all.
Then we come to the managers, Dean Brennan and Stuart Maynard. The former of course an ex-Stones boss who spoke to Barnet last season with permission, declined the move, stayed where he was and then found his P45 arriving. Maynard stepped into the breach, with it believed he was working behind Brennan’s back, a friendship ruined and more to separate the two sides.
Onto the football as that’s what we’re here for! It’s a strange rivalry for me as I’ve only really been used to Stevenage as local rivals over the 20 odd years I’ve been a Bees fan, now credit to both the Stones and Boreham Wood for reaching this level as we’re a million miles away from a return to the Football League.
Last season saw the balance shift towards Wealdstone in their first season back at this level, dishing out a 5-1 thumping at home to the Bees, one of many lowlights last season, in fact far too many to want to remember!
Barnet are currently enjoying their highest position in the table going back twelve months, but only since sacking Harry Kewell who registered no wins in the first seven games of the season. Since Brennan has taken interim control of the side, he has registered just one defeat to big spending Wrexham in the same amount of time as Kewell had with the team.
Contrast that to the Stones and they’re in a bit of freefall currently, just one win in their last seven games but a very big win over high flying Grimsby Town at home which would have relieved a bit of pressure on Maynard and the team. Neither side has played a National League game since the end of October so we’re either going to see a little rustiness or refreshed players ready to go.
Being a part time outfit does make it hard to compete in this division and given some of the sums of money clubs parted with over the summer staying in this division and upsetting some of the bigger clubs is an achievement in itself.
I can see this being quite a feisty affair both on and off the pitch given the history and the current as well, I can’t say I’d like to be the man in the middle for this one! Of course though I’m hoping it’s me and the Bees fans celebrating come the final whistle and then possibly the talk of how much longer we continue under an interim manager……..
Barnet FC. The gift that keeps on giving whilst appearing a laughing stock to the outside world and the inability to stop the revolving door to the manager’s office at The Hive.
Only last midweek was I blogging that Harry Kewell was already under pressure six games in and without a win kept off the bottom only by Dover Athletic on a minus points score.
Two games I believed he had to buy some breathing space for himself, his staff and his squad. A 2-0 defeat at the hands of Bromley at the weekend, another side who hadn’t started well, didn’t look at all promising and the lack of a post-match interview from Kewell despite his touchline ban for a sending off at Grimsby saw his assistant Paul Butler not pull any punches.
Talking to fellow Bees fans over the weekend and others I felt he had this weekend’s home game with Weymouth to save his job, even that might not have been enough and as sure as night follows day Barnet are looking for yet another manager/head coach before we’ve reached the end of September after news broke on Monday lunchtime that the club and Kewell had parted company.
At the very beginning of this structure appointment I wanted this to work. Not necessarily for Kewell but for what was put in place and for us fans to see that things can work properly at The Hive. Being a famous name with a good reputation in the game doesn’t always translate into a good sideline coach and as we saw with Tim Flowers last year it didn’t end well.
Kewell I felt was in last chance saloon in this country as a head coach, a poor record across Football League jobs, a final opportunity maybe to succeed and if not that was him done, that will remain to be seen over the next couple of years if it’s the case.
Having spoken to people in and around the game the dynamics didn’t appear to be working between Kewell and Dean Brennan, was that Tony Kleanthous name drawing from a hat and seeing if it works or fits together? The squad to me looks a mismatch of players wanted by both, signed half and half. I could be miles out there but that’s how it looks from the outside.
To work out that regardless of the result this coming Saturday that Peter Beadle’s side would have accumulated more points than Kewell’s tells you all you need to know because six different managers before Simon Bassey tried to get a tune out of those players and thirteen games restored a little bit of pride, since demolished once again.
Just to think how many players and managers have been through those doors at The Hive since Darren Currie and Junior Lewis left the club last August makes my brain hurt. Tony’s right we do have a reputation in the game, it’s an embarrassing one at best and at the moment we’re not exactly pulling up trees to change that around are we?
The amount of money that has been wasted paying off managers and coaching staff as well in that short space of time, if there were shareholders in the club, surely they would be wincing at the balance sheet every few months, its crazy to think we must be paying off now no less than three managers and numerous others.
So what now? Well in my opinion leave Brennan to get on with appointing someone he can work with, someone who knows the division. That might limit a few being that Brennan was a National League manager in his own right just a season ago, will some see it as him lurking and waiting for the job himself?
The biggest answer would be for Kleanthous to eat humble pie and get Currie back in, that’s what kickstarted this mess in the first place. Would he want to come back? Would he want to work under Brennan? Personally I don’t believe anything more than a 1% chance of it happening, I’m stoked if it does but I’ve got no money on that at all.
The second would be to eat the same humble pie and get Bassey back to build on what he started last season, again something I don’t see happening although it would be the dream team in place that was touted to be coming in last March.
My realistic appointment is Neil Smith. Yes I know him, yes I trust him. But I also know what a passionate footballing man he is who knows this level. You don’t spend ten years at one club by luck I can assure you. This next man HAS to know how to bring the fans onside, Smudger I know will do that and if he chucked in a cheeky assistant like Ian Hendon, well you might just take the heat off yourself Tony.
27 years of supporting the Bees has never been dull ever, but quite frankly the embarrassment tag could do with dropping itself. I was already heading to The Hive on Saturday afternoon before the new broke, no doubt there will be more to come over the next few days before the weekend, just no silly appointments please………………….
Managerial appointments at Barnet FC are like London buses, occasionally the odd lull in waiting for the next one to arrive but not in the past 15 months or so. Thursday morning’s early news saw the latest new arrivals, yes arrivals, at The Hive tasked with a re-build that has to be the biggest under Tony Kleanthous’ reign as Barnet chairman.
Not just one through the door then but two, Dean Brennan installed as Head of Football (the Director of Football tag not loved much) and maybe to some more surprisingly Harry Kewell as the new Head Coach.
Both men have been linked to the club in the past, Brennan indeed held talks with Barnet after Peter Beadle was sacked late last year and was almost in the chair when things changed and Tim Flowers was appointed instead. Kewell was mooted last summer after the club parted ways with Darren Currie and before Beadle was given the job, the Australian ending up with a spell at Oldham Athletic.
In many ways you might say Kleanthous has finally got his ‘men’, but can they work as a partnership? It’s no secret the chairman has wanted a structure like this for a few months, people will be interested to see Brennan as the top figurehead instead of the manager or the head coach, however you like to term it.
In my opinion you have to look beyond the face value of the two appointments. Brennan knows the level and has experience of the players needed plus previous jobs around the National League. Kewell has the name which should also attract players to the club, we’re no stranger to a name at either Underhill nor The Hive, but that doesn’t breed success which we all know.
The way Kleanthous wants the structure to work is continuity. Should either of these two not prove good enough or the opposite way they do well enough to earn a move upwards then it’s set for the other to continue, whereas the past has seen us lose whole management teams, start again way beyond other clubs and then we wonder why we’re not on a level footing with everyone else.
I believe Dave Anderson and Gary Anderson will both stay as well, again that continuity which is the key word and what you have to look towards. I’ll praise Tony for this point, despite my reservations in the fact he could have done more prior to losing Simon Bassey to keep him at the club, but this structure was what he wanted when he put out his statement back in April and the first stepping stone on the floor.
The next marker will be the recruitment from these two guys over the coming weeks. We’re already behind some of the other clubs, in my mind around four weeks now so things have to move fast. Some will not be convinced that TK will put up a good budget and drive a play-off charge, but then ask yourself what is the point of a highly structured management team if there are no tools to work with?
He openly admitted that he took his eye off the ball when it comes to the football club, and in my eyes alone he has a lot to do to make up for what he’s presided over for the last 12 months, I’m sure I speak for a lot of supporters in that respect.
Both men have a lot to prove for themselves, well a third if you include the chairman too, seemingly a mixed response to the appointments on various forums and pages I’ve been reading.
Whilst it has been great blogging all things Barnet over the last six months, a lack of any other football saw to that! I can’t wait for next season to return the blog back to a non-league effort covering wherever I go which of course will include The Hive unless we’re in the middle of another meltdown in the managerial hot seat………..
Over the last couple of days I posted Jim Kavanagh’s reaction to the Tony Kleanthous interview brought to us by the excellent Beespod guys. Having been a guest with Mem and Iain, I’m really pleased they managed to secure the interview with much help from the excellent Adam Rowe, have a lot of time for these three chaps.
I’m not going to make this a long one, Jim’s covered a fair bit in his opinion but there are some bits I heard that I wasn’t in agreement with. However, it was right to get this interview, Tony needed to do it to at least help people to understand as far as he could on some matters so if you were expecting hard hitting questions then you’ve missed the point.
They will come in time; this is about building bridges and a lot of them in fact. That’s not going to happen overnight and for some the boat has already sailed from that broken bridge and won’t be coming back.
To me it was the other side of the story to hear and for others too, most of you know I speak to a lot of people who were connected with the club. I’m not naïve to say they don’t speak to anyone else or any other fans, of course they do so some now have heard both sides of the story.
Part 2 I certainly felt more critical of, possibly because it’s very current and because more of the conversations I’ve heard the other side of the story.
But let’s start on a point that really astounded me, the National League not starting. As a board member of course I expected TK to have inside knowledge, call it one of the perks. As a collective board to think the season was never going to start I was gobsmacked! It’s as close to a 5th division of the professional game as it gets and it was always going to start. If that’s the case it looked like we were the only ones not planning for a re-start then, awful leadership from a board that needs to be replaced this summer.
Peter Beadle unlucky? Not a chance! From that point above he was always behind the game from day one, a man plucked from backwaters and with no or extremely little knowledge of players at our level and a smaller pool to pick from based on our reasoning above. Surely TK saw the quality was poor in what we were signing? If he didn’t and professes to have a poor memory of people, then this Director of Football is much needed or mistakes will repeat themselves.
The dispensation for the goalkeeper loan, laughable in respect of two things. One, we had six players on loan under Tim Flowers so one had to be left out of the squad, matchday rules of five, always has been. Same happened under Martin Allen one year so it’s not new. Why then did TK think the rules would be bent to accommodate us where we have the loan signings to help out after poor recruitment in the summer?
Secondly, that brings us on nicely to the furloughing of players! I’m not going to spend too long on this as I think I’ve thrashed it to death over Scott Loach. If he wanted to avoid the above, then Loach should have been recalled, forget the cash side of it.
Six players left under contract is the same amount as Beadle started with so let’s hope we get it right this time. As far as I am aware Ben Richards-Everton and Liam Daly are two of the six, the four could be options but we’ll be aware on 31st May no doubt.
Paul McCallum saved our season. Not convinced he saved it, Paul McCallum added the missing ingredient yes, but one player we needed back in June when he was top of the list for Darren to come in but money wasn’t spent then. To say Hendo saved the season by getting the deal over the line was a bit over the top in my opinion, as an agent he got a top drawer deal for Macca out of Solihull and he did give us that extra spark, leading me onto the next point though.
Woking away, that wet Tuesday night in Surrey and probably the complete performance of the season. One defeat in 17 games, games in hand, everything firing, but that’s not a play-off team? Tell me then, what did that team need to do? Because that was one hell of a run with a group of players in which Darren signed just four of them, one of which was out with a broken ankle. They were that close they still have their WhatsApp group going despite being at different clubs, I’m pretty sure that isn’t a common occurrence everywhere?
My last point is on DC and the level of crowds. I am as guilty as anyone picking and choosing my games, I have a 5 hour round trip to The Hive and back and most of the times I went was seeing friends I’ve made over the years. Sometimes it’s lovely driving up on your own and even sitting watching the games alone something I’ve done lots of times, other occasions you want the company. I follow a lot of non-league football, have so much on my doorstep and at times it’s been very unappealing to watch this football club, not just the performance on the pitch but the way things are done off the pitch for us the supporters.
The bigger picture needed to be looked at here. Yes crowds were still low when DC got the team playing but why? It took a while to get that team going I know, but the crowd syndrome goes beyond last season.
To me off the pitch we do things half-cocked and then wonder why people jump up and down at it. We put together a wonderful season ticket offer for this season, applause for that. But we buried it in an article announcing Darren and Junior were leaving, that’s not common sense.
Similar was done this season with the statement put out, Simon Bassey and Dave Anderson’s arrival almost a footnote when we should be putting these great things in a post where it can be digested better.
This is now the breakthrough moment where things have to get better and improve. I called a long time ago this season for Tony to have a strategy, a process, and to follow it, now we have it, the talk has been talked, time to walk the walk…….
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!
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…….
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…………
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.
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………..