Seems quite an apt heading, given our recent form.
So, farewell Glyn Hodges and Nick Daws. A big call, but one that isn’t incorrect to make.
Some may be questioning the timing after losing – OK, waving the white flag – against Franchise.
And it may be odd to part ways with the guy(s) responsible for transfers, in the last days of the transfer window. But we might not have been signing anyone anyway.
Your editor was well away from any live commentary yesterday, but once their first goal went in – then their second in quick succession – it felt like the arse had finally fallen out of us.
The worst possible performance against the worst possible team to do it against.
Losing to that lot hurts at the best of times, but to find out that we did our usual rolling over stings more than it should.
As any football fan worth their salt knows – you never shit the bed against the team you hate the most.
They can have their little victory about beating us, gloating about us “being in their shadow” and that they made us sack a manager.
We played a league game against them at Plough Lane. We won the war against them ages ago.
We can ignore them again now. That said, my thoughts after finding we were 2-0 down were leading me to what I would be typing on here today.
If Hodges was still here, the nub of today’s writeup would have been made with just two words, which are the following:
It’s academic these days, but if GH was still here, we would have been talking about when, not if he would have gone.
It would have been endless debate about why he was sticking with three at the back, which failed every time we used it.
The pressure on our now-departed managerial duo would be ramped up even more, as if it wasn’t high enough.
There would be the usual “give him time” replies, forgetting that we’re freefalling right now.
And you’d have the “we shouldn’t sack him because we didn’t sack Dave Bassett when we went down in the early 1980s” stuff that managed to spectacularly miss the point.
Today, we don’t. And I’m very glad we’re no longer having those discussions.
Telling, nobody last night or this morning seems upset GH and Daws are gone. Almost universally, everyone is saying it was the right call.
It’s a big decision by Joe Palmer, but it’s the right one.
Reading the club statement, I do wonder with the “brief chat” – and how GH seemed to accept the decision – if this hasn’t been brewing for a while.
We’ll never know if he had to beat Franchise to keep his job, but our slump in form really couldn’t have gone un-noticed by the decision makers.
The club didn’t put a post-game interview with Hodges, but the SLP did. And he did give the impression he’d run out of ideas.
Last night was a reminder that football is, and always will be a results-based business.
Our recent form would have got any manager the tin-tack by now, and I’m glad we haven’t repeated what we’ve done too often in the past.
Maybe it’s because JP himself has been at Shaktar Donetsk and Sheffield Wednesday, and knows you have to be ruthless and quick-acting on that side of things?
My big fear after the game yesterday was that we would be taking a month to decide what to do, while we failed to stop the bleeding.
Thankfully, that was the old way of doing things, and since Palmer took charge we’ve been quicker to react.
Walter went the same way**, though he was master of his own downfall, and would Ardley had been left to flap in the wind like he was these days?
** – speaking of Walter, so far the reaction to yesterday from certain quarters has been *very* different from when he was axed. Funny that.
The big question is the one asked much earlier – now what?
Obviously, the top two priorities right now are to stop our death spiral, and to sort the manager out who can do that.
The first one is going to be Mark “Robbo” Robinson’s job. Time will tell if he just remains the Simon Bassey-esque interim manager, or whether he does well enough to get the job full time.
Promoting from within has its pros and cons, and it’s possible we might go down this path after all.
If we don’t, then the two biggest questions we have right now are – how long do we take to make the choice, and do we go short-term or long term?
The second one first. A manager until the end of the season is one of those sort of things that again, has its pros and cons.
On the plus side, you might get them on a cheaper deal, and if they fail to keep us up we’re not obliged to keep them on in the summer.
On the minus side, they might want more money pro-rata because they could be axed after the last game.
A long term one (“long term” being a year or more, in the world of football management) may be the more preferred option
If you get it right, you have more stability and more chance of building an identity – something we’ve lacked for too long.
Get it wrong though, and we repeat the whole shebang again in a year’s time. Or sooner.
But that’s something anyone in football knows can happen, least of all any potential manager.
The issue of how long we take to decide is probably the most important one of the lot.
In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve earned two draws in the last eleven games. That’s 2 points from a possible 33.
We need to stop that. And quick.
Previously, we’ve roughly taken a month to decide on a new manager, although it’s always been before Xmas.
The last time we did a proper process, it got messy with Walter getting earmarked then not, then Kevin Nolan getting offered and turning it down, and Walter finally getting appointed.
We got away with that back then. We won’t now.
I think JP was involved in the process decision back then, but he wasn’t in charge. This will be his first managerial appointment that he’s fully responsible for.
His stated aim in the club statement is to keep us in L1, which is clearly going to guide his thinking.
He’ll need to be a lot more pro-active in replacing GH than the club has done in recent years.
That means junking the whole “apply to be our manager” approach, because it doesn’t work in modern football.
If it did, a lot of clubs would be doing it. That we were probably the only EFL club doing it tells its own story.
That always made us sound a bit clueless about the football industry, as though we were placing more emphasis on being ethical.
People in football expect to be approached, rather than them approaching clubs. That’s how the culture is, and we’ve never really grasped that as a club.
So I hope Palmer is sounding people out right now. Given how quickly we parted ways with GH, and with our current plight, he might have a few people in mind already.
He knows we need to move rapidly, and by the time we play Rochdale on the 13th February, we might have them installed.
I didn’t mention either Oxford in the Mario’s Pizza Trophy or Wigan next week, but if we have a preferred candidate who’s willing to join – why wait?
One of the fun bits of getting a new manager is speculating who it is. Even if the suggestions are complete flights of fantasy.
Even we wouldn’t employ a female manager, as a few cheeky types are suggesting.
Anyone who’s recently departed from a Championship club is unlikely to happen, which is why if you’re thinking of putting £10 on Neil Harris, give the money to me instead.
You don’t drop from the second tier to a club in the L1 doldrums, unless you’re getting paid a shitload of money.
Which we won’t be. For that reason alone, a lot of names that get mentioned probably won’t come to us.
I say “probably” because you never quite know how much a potential manager will accept just to get back into work.
One of the most striking things that’s happened since GH left last night is this – there is universally no appetite whatsoever for somebody with ex-Wimbledon connections.
If you’re not including interim managers, then since 2018 we’ve had Ardley, Walter and GH in charge.
To be fair to AFCW, we’ve changed the decision makers since NA went, and we move quicker on managers these days.
But they’re all ex-Wimbledon, and it’s hard not to think it’s deliberate**.
** – to be fair, we did try to break that chain with offering the job to Nolan, but Walter got it not just for footballing or even ex-Wimbledon reasons. IYSWIM.
True, you could suggest the alternatives back then were Nolan, Shaun Derry and Russell Slade.
Would any of those three have turned out any worse than the others though?
Ardley, Downes and now Hodges have left the club with the mark of failure beside them, and that’s unfortunate.
All that seems to happen with an ex-Wimbledon player as manager is that it just ends up tarnishing their memories with us.
The time is more than ripe to look beyond people who just so happened to wear a blue-and-yellow shirt in the past.
I don’t think there’s many with WFC connections left in management anyway. Only Ian Holloway and, as it turns out, Danny Cowley (ex-yoof system).
Holloway has moved to Lincolnshire, apparently, and Cowley probably won’t come for the same reason as, say, Mark Bowen wouldn’t come.
Still, you never know who’s being approached, and how willing they’d be taking over a club with a brand new stadium and presumably with a free reign over summer transfers.
We might be surprised with who we pick. And in a good way too.
That’s for the near future. As for Glyn Hodges, it’s a shame that it’s ended this way for him.
I’ll possibly write one of those reflection pieces on him in the next couple of days – emphasis on “possibly” – although looking back on his managerial time with us may be a bit tricky.
We should thank Nick Daws too, for putting into gear the player database that we’ve so badly needed since we got into the League.
The tragic thing is though, now both have gone I’ve started to feel a bit more confident of our survival hopes already…