Yesterday and the Future
WOTMT thoughts on what needs to happen now at our club

Last Summer, even when Steve Bruce was around, we knew that everything needed to drop into place nicely – form, fitness, attitude – for us to have a tilt at even a play-off place. Prospects looked worse after SB left but Garry Monk got decent results out of the squad until Xmas, and then it all went belly up and we have looked a relegation team since. The EFL disciplinary process has ground on so slowly, further undermining confidence. In the end we have so many fans alienated from the club and the team that it feels like we are back in the 2000 – 2003 era of overpaid and dis-interested players and a club not in control of events. And finally, to top off the joys of 2019/20, we received the decision of the Independent Disciplinary Commission on Friday 31 July. Subject to no worsening at an appeal hearing we start next season minus 12 points with a very big hill to climb.

Mr Chansiri’s strategy has got us to this position and he has to be accountable for that. But unless there is a ready-made better owner appearing over the horizon (and why would there be in the current circumstances?) just attacking him won’t help. We were in a difficult financial situation pre-Covid and it is even worse now so the club needs him to keep plugging the gap between income and expenditure, without it administration, a further 12 points deduction and becoming a crisis club beckons.

The team and the club need a new identity – less of the tattered fur coat and instead much better sturdy underwear. We need openness, honesty, straight talking and engagement. The club needs a new strategy and plan for the new challenges. We need to have confidence that the club has the right people and infrastructure to deliver in practice. The club has lost connection with the community, the city and many fans. If you were a newly arrived football fan in South Yorkshire and wanted to support a club how would the clubs look in a league table of likely contenders? I bet we would be near the bottom. Rotherham and Barnsley have an identity and approach that suits their circumstances, never mind how it looks in Heeley. Our club is insular, relying on the current pool of fans staying loyal and it’s not looking attractive to new fans at all. Limping along as we are won’t cut it, and we don’t want to be a crisis club. Mr Chansiri needs to set out a new course and ensure we have the right people in place to LEAD the club – positive, engaged, competent and active leadership has been absent for far too long, but it is desperately needed now.

Garry Monk was never a massively popular appointment at the time he came in, but results since Xmas and his approach to side-lining Hutchinson and Westwood have done him real damage. We have sympathy for him having to deal with structural problems that are not of his making but he has failed to correct the problems that have ruined our season – an inability to score goals at home and throwing points away late in games. We aren’t calling for his head but he is now under enormous pressure to re-structure the squad and start well in September – he doesn’t have long. Many fans clearly have no confidence in him at all and we respect where that view comes from; but in the current circumstances who is good enough, is available and affordable and will want the job? We think he needs to be given the chance to build his own back-up team and squad and then be judged on delivery, he has to be able to make the decisions that he stands or falls by, without interference. Plus, he needs to be helped by the right climate being set from the very top of the club.

Starting with a 12 points deduction will be a tough ask. Getting to 62 points will be our only target next season, but it is do-able and we have to believe it is possible – negativity just won’t help. Beyond 20/21 the financial position looks a bit more stable as the wage bill reduces.  The club and the squad need to unite with fans to build a shared feeling of backs to the wall and we are in this together. We are sure that fans will play their part if they can, but they need to see a vision, they need hope and they need to see something they can identify with. Mr Chansiri, Garry Monk and the players are the only ones who can provide that. Are they, and will they, be up for it?

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