DC, SB and the 7 Forwards
Some thoughts on a tricky summer for SWFC

 A few weeks ago it seemed like everything was going swimmingly: SB’s recruitment team had identified 3 players who cost us nothing and were seemingly able to improve the squad; Tony Strudwick was in place to sort out our fitness issues, and the players were getting a good workout in the Algarve sunshine. And the spirit in the camp seemed really positive. Then it all started to fall apart a little bit! It is important to acknowledge that those pluses mentioned here came from SB decisions - he did make a positive contribution in his short reign at S6, despite what we think of him now.

On Twitter I have been ignoring the SB departure business after venting the initial anger – no point in pursuing him with bile and vitriol as what happens to our club is more important now. But, I can’t really ignore him for the purposes of this piece. I can fully understand why he wanted to manage his boyhood club and the club his recently departed parents supported, no grudge against him for that. But it’s the way he and NUFC/Ashley went about it that sticks in the craw, with the evidence pointing towards SB chasing them, and that he dissembled in the messages to us as supporters of SWFC. He was clearly determined to go, come what may, whilst telling us it had all appeared from nowhere blah, blah, blah. He displayed little respect for us and our club in the process of managing his departure. Some will say “that’s football” and to an extent that is true, but if we go back a few months when our club allowed him to delay his starting date, fans bought into that, and we defended him from attacks from some in the media over it. Despite all of that we were just another pawn in the game of SB career management. He has offered more respect for NUFC than for us – and their fans don’t want him! DC has quite rightly been robust in his dealings with NUFC/Ashley and he is right to push for the best deal that can be achieved for our club, but I think doing a deal is important.

Now, it’s possible that SB’s mates might start to plant some stories in the media that will demonstrate there were ‘push’ factors in place at Hillsborough as well as ‘pull’ factors from Newcastle. There may be some truth in that, but that does not justify SB’s behaviour and how he treated us SWFC fans, even if he thought DC deserved it. DC’s energy, emotional commitment and financial commitment to our club cannot be questioned by anyone – period. But I do question his strategy and judgement in many respects concerning the running of our club. We have embarked upon a “get to the PL as quickly as possible approach” and thrown silly money at it in the process, yet the infrastructure of the club (eg the training ground) has not improved despite expenditure on those things being outside FFP. I totally agree that the FFP rules in the Championship, when they interact with clubs relegated from the PL, produce an unfair situation, but the rules are there and we knew they were there. DC gambled, we were not part of the decision making that led to the gamble, but we are there for our club still.

The accounts for 17/18 were finally published and they gave rise to many more questions despite only providing partial answers to others. Our 8 figure FFP problem finally became clearer and had we not sold the ground we would have been in deep do-dah with a 12 point penalty. The delay in finalising the accounts has meant an EFL soft transfer embargo which means that free-agents or low fee players on controlled wages is the market we are in. DC found his FFP loophole and we have now played our ‘get out of jail card’, there isn’t another and we have to do things differently in future. If we are in fact quoting clubs £8m for Lucas Joao then we are slow in learning any lessons. SB was clearly frustrated that we hadn’t moved players on – the 7 forwards were something he consistently mentioned – so doing the deals you can do rather than the ones you would like to do is important. I am not convinced we are pragmatic enough in this regard. I have to say that the communications from the club in the summer have been shocking – I understand that matters are sometimes delicate and that legal issues have to be managed, but saying nothing for weeks, how is that right?

So now we face a difficult choice of picking up the pieces after the departure of SB and his mates. What will DC’s approach be? We thought he had taken the approach of a giving a club manager free rein but it seems like this may not have been the case. Personally I prefer a Director of Football and Coach model but DC has dismissed this approach in the past. Or, we could go back to the CC model of “we don’t really know who is doing what, why, where or when but we know that DC’s personal adviser is at the back of it somewhere”. I would love Chris Hughton to be our manager but would he be allowed to be that and if not why would he come if he isn’t desperate for a job? A club with high expectations, but limited capacity to achieve those expectations, is a bit of a poisoned chalice. Despite this there will be many candidates in the frame, some of whom I won’t like, and I might not like the one who gets the job! But, what I won’t do is walk out on the club; it might increase my frustration at the way the club is being run and I might voice that frustration even louder, but my season ticket won’t be going in the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal. The club is more than any team manager. Being a Wednesdayite eh!

At least the friendly game performances/results have been decent as we build towards the Espanyol game on Sunday! Accentuate the positive as the song goes!

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