Onwards and Upwards?
Thoughts for the New Year

In the 2017 calendar year we played 47 league games of which we W19, D13 and L15 delivering 70 points – if that was a  complete season we would have been safely in the top ten but would have missed out on the play offs. The 22 games in the 16/17 delivered 40 points at 1.81 points per game, whilst the 25 in 17/18 delivered only 30 at 1.2 points per game. Also in 2017 we had the massive play-off failure, the kit cock-up, a flat 150th birthday party, the debacle of Club 1867 and a manager departing at Xmas. All in all it hasn’t been a great year and one we will be glad to wave goodbye to. The form and the football finally meant that Carlos lost the fans and at that point it feels like he opted for pastures new and agreed his mutual agreement deal with Mr Chansiri – more resignation than sacking in my book. We offer our thanks to him for 2015/16 and for Wembley but he is now history and only to be reviewed when times have changed.

The unfortunate legacy left by CC, DC and DC’s coterie of advisers is a squad that is ageing, creaking, unfit, un-balanced, mentally weak, under-performing and expensive. As we have seen it is capable of playing some terrific football and winning games occasionally but equally likely to be bereft of ideas going forward and powder puff weak at the back. All this cannot be just put down to injuries – we have looked poor when able to field a much stronger side than that which we fielded at Brentford; or alternatively they played well at Forest whilst still missing many players who would be seen as starters. There is something fundamentally not right about the fitness of the squad (leggy after 15 minutes at Griffin Park!) and the mentality of the players to veer so much from one extreme to the other in a matter of days.

So what next then? I have always said that the issues run much deeper than CC – just removing him won’t be the solution although a necessary part of the process. In my view it needs a root and branch rebuilding of the squad by a brand new face who is able to build a winning culture and mentality in the club. Given the financial circumstances this will involve selling some players, including some who ideally we might not want to sell.  I do worry though about what DC and his advisers will deliver in practice. The decision making on football matters doesn’t fill me with confidence. We were once going to have a D of F (CC) and a coach (Mark Cooper), then CC was Head Coach, then it was a football committee, then it was Doyen Sports and advisers, then it’s Club 1867 to plug the financial gap. We know that in 2014/15 club income was £13m and we spent 90% of that on wages. In the following year (Chansisri’s first full season) income was £20m and we spent 88% of that on wages. It would be useful if Mr Chansiri could tell us the position for 2016/17, that which is projected for 2017/18, and what is the plan for 2018/19 in the Championship? Could we be told how close we are to FFP limits?  It would be useful to know if the club has any debts, what they are and to whom they are owed? What are the formal and informal relationships with Doyen and other advisers would be useful information too.

On the managerial front the current speculation appears to be DC favouring Paolo Fonseca or AVB – I think they are all wildly optimistic in the context of our league position, squad and finances. Many of the usual suspects appear on the betting boards and I have nothing against many of them – they might do a good job but is a re-cycling of another name what we need just now? Personally I favour appointing a Director of Football or Head of Football Operations - with DC and his advisers taking a back seat on football matters - and bringing in a younger coach who knows the game, who has done their time in non-league and the lower leagues. Dean Smith at Brentford and Paul Hurst at Shrewsbury would fit the bill, but there may be others. But it feels like Chansiri is looking to find another Carlos and there is no indication that the model that got us to this place is being re-thought – will we just end up with another one of Doyen’s clients? I think we need a radical re-think but there is no sense that one is in the offing. Worrying times indeed.

 Mr Chansiri’s recent epilogue was essentially a plea for us all to be part of the family, to let the head of the family (Mr C) make the decisions and for us to be supportive not critical – no doubt it was this level of thinking that led him to believe that Club 1867 was a good idea. The culture in which he has grown up might expect that level of deference but that was never likely to apply here and now – too many football fans have seen their clubs put through the wringer by Chairmen and owners to be deferential. He now has major decisions to make on a head coach and how to pitch season ticket renewals to fans who are more sceptical than they were in Spring 2016 or 2017. Those decisions will influence a number to decide whether they want to be a continuing part of the family at S6. In the meantime we need to amass at least another 21 points to secure safety in the Championship and present the opportunity to build for 2018/19.

Finally let’s take this opportunity to remember those former players and staff of the club, and those Wednesdayites who have passed in 2017. They may not be physically with us but their spirit remains.

We go onwards into 2018 with hope in our hearts, even if we know that it’s the hope that does you in!

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