For the first time since 2017, I cannot see what we are trying to do. The path, always so clear, is now clouded. Muddied beyond recognition. I simply don’t know what we are trying to achieve other than some finger-tip clutching at the precipice of Premier League participation.
In the words of the infamous Craig David… re-re-wind. The summer of 2017. A squad arguably better than our existing one and consisting of bloated Premier League wages, egos and those not committed to a Championship bare-knuckle dust-up. I’ll throw a few names at you:
Naismith, Oliviera, Pritchard, Dorrans, Mulumbu, Wildschut
And how refreshing the Stuart Webber clear-out was. We knew what we had to do. We knew the path we had to take. We had the vision. We had the right coaching team to implement said vision and we all knew the constraints within which we had to work.
It worked. Twice. Rather spectacularly.
Yet the problem was, the vision didn’t quite seem to marry up with the awkward consequence of tearing up the Championship. Twice.
What the owners are trying to do, rightly deserves plaudits. A beacon of all that should be good about our game, shining out from Nelson’s finest county. Hope offered, to 99% of the football pyramid, that things can be done differently and can achieve success.
Yet, just yet, the composition and dynamics of the Premier League simply do not allow for any model, other than that of billionaire ownership, to work. So, with crossroads faced, what could Webber do? Maintain the existing model and vision, or roll the dice?
I think we are somewhere in the middle, pursuing neither path properly. And where do we find ourselves?
With a bloated squad that isn’t good enough for Premier League football, yet will lack (or will be notable by their absence) the requisite skill-set for the Championship. We threw money at it in January 2016. It didn’t work. We’ve spent upwards of £50mil this season. It’s not worked. But if we hadn’t, then we go to war without a gun… again.
So right back where we started from?
I, like many others no doubt, am more worried about our lack of prospect next season, than putting up much of a last stand in this one.
Because the vision has gone. What are we trying to achieve? If Rashica had shone like Buendia. If Gilmour had been the player to replace Skipp. It might, just might, have worked. But it hasn’t – and has failed. Big-time.
I’m perhaps, only one of a small number who is still pro-Farke and cannot fathom why, after awarding him a four-year contract – ergo maintaining, at least part of our vision, and thus building some sort of dynasty – that we sacked him.
At least we all knew where we were. Sadly, for all the mantra Webber likes to surround the club by, ‘ignoring the noise’ – I think Webber listened too closely to certain sections of our fan base and national media and prematurely pulled the trigger.
I do like Dean Smith and Craig Shakespeare, and their credentials more than speak for themselves, but are we in any better position than when we sacked Farke?
I don’t think so.
Different coaches. Different playing style. Different methodology. We now need a major overhaul and an entire re-set to build a squad in their image. And that’s without knowing how long either will stick around for. A look at our loan stable will perhaps shed some light on our likely line-up next season.
But what’s the vision? Where are we going? What can we achieve?
I look at our squad. And simply don’t know.
I’ll finish this piece with a nod to Martin P’s, signature sign-offs.
Have a good and safe New Year, all.