August 16, 2018 by Kane Styles.
Say what you want about Carson Yeung, Peter Pannu & Co (and there was a lot to say) but I think that they at least had the sense to let people who knew what they were doing at the club get on with things, to an extent anyway. The news of three experienced members of the senior management team leaving this week is just as bad as us losing a player or failing to bring in a new one. They don’t score goals, save shots or sell shirts but it’s the guys in the back who are the glue who keep things together day to day. People like Julia Shelton, they are the constants that ensure a semblance of continuity during turbulent time (and boy have we had our share of those for the best part of a decade). That glue has now melted away.
I can’t claim to know the specific reasons why Julia Shelton, Roger Lloyd and Gary Moore all left on the same day but for me there are two strands of thinking; they walked because they could no longer work in a way the powers that be wanted them to or they were pushed because they wouldn’t work in a way that the powers that be wanted them to. Either way, the running of the club is now solely in the hands of people who have shown time and again they seem to have little or no clue as to what they are actually doing.
Blues at least got out of the blocks remarkably quickly this time. A couple of seasons ago it took until Christmas until the club managed to shoot itself in the foot and wreck any hopes of a good season. Last season, it took until September with the sacking of Harry Redknapp (and the appointment of his Steve Cotterill as his successor) before it became obvious that the campaign was going to be a struggle. This time around, we managed to majorly stuff things up again before a ball had even been kicked.
My personal opinion is that we will be scrapping like like an alley cat to stay up again this season. The squad is threadbare, both in numbers and experience. We replenished that squad within the restrictions set out by the Football League, and ultimately that left us with slim pickings to go at. A bloke who we released five years ago, a kid who couldn’t get a game at Barnsley last season, a Goalie who gets the sort of reviews from Sunderland fans that Jeremy Corbyn is getting from the Jewish community right now and a guy from over the distressway who would struggle to get on to V***a’s bench; these aren’t the sort of signings that are nailed on to replenish that threadbare squad properly.
Last summer, the lack of joined up thinking between the club’s hierarchy through to the (then) team management meant we spent the last few days of the window chucking cash at any and every club who would take it. That spending spree (combined with the seeming lack of transparency between the hierarchy and the current team management) means that this time around we were scrabbling around at the bottom of the barrel, looking for anyone who can simply act as another body for the squad. We are throwing mud at the wall and hoping, praying that some sticks.
Now, if the Board/Ren Xuangdong had been transparent from the beginning with Garry Monk about what the Football League were and weren’t going to let us do in this season’s transfer market, then we could have planned ahead properly. Even within the restrictions put in place by the Football League we could have made a far better fist of our transfer dealings. But the fans were kept in the dark, Garry Monk was kept in the dark – it may well even have been that Ren and the rest were in the dark, but they are still accountable either way for the fact that we are now in this mess. They should have had it set in stone from the word go what we were and weren’t allowed to do.
There have been suggestions that the outgoing three members of staff this week may be being scapegoated for the shambles of a summer we’ve had to endure but the buck stops with Ren. By the same token, it is (was) not Lloyd, Moore or Shelton’s job to decide when and how money would be spent on players, or their job to recruit those players and/or the bloke that picks them.
Earlier this summer, overt optimism hung in the air. Blues fans were crowing about the state our neighbours were in. I’m reminded of a parable in the Bible; we were too busy laughing at the spec of dust in our near neighbour’s eye to notice we still had a plank of wood in our own. Now, I would say that the feeling amongst many fans is…well…they probably don’t know what to think.
Changes must happen now though. This has to be judged as one farce too many. Ren has to go, and a CEO with experience (ideally footballing experience) must come in and take his place. The club needs a figurehead who can be relied upon and who can be held accountable by the club’s fans and staff alike.This club will not move forward until an upper management structure is in place that can be trusted, that can be counted upon and can actually put a cohesive plan in place as to how the club moves forward. The glue has melted away and we are looking like we are becoming unstuck, on and off the pitch.
By Nat Peters.