Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Two minutes with… Macclesfield Town

For the first of many Friday night games planned for the Bees this season, Macclesfield Town came to Underhill last week. For me it was the first game since that horror defeat – 6–3 to Burton Albion – and we beat the Silkmen 2–1. In this instalment I managed to get the views from Macclesfield fan, Ryan and Adam (aka @adamswfc), a neutral who came to the game with his mate.

Barnet 2 – 1 Macclesfield Town
(McLeod ’41 ’45 – Hamshaw ’61)
Attendance 2,200 (away 142)
How did you get to the game?
Ryan: I came down on the coach, put on by the Silkmen Supporters’ Trust.
What did you do pre-match?
Ryan: I went to the Old Red Lion pub, just behind Underhill.
Where did you sit/stand in the ground?
Ryan: I sat behind the goal in the ‘fake seats’ [the North East family stand].
What did you make of the game?
Adam: There was a lack of creativity in the first half, with long ball tactics being employed – eventually leading to two Barnet penalties (which were slightly soft). In my opinion, the referee favoured the home side. Barnet’s number 10 [Sam Deering] looked a very decent player, and should have been man of the match.
Was the scoreline a fair reflection?
Ryan: No the score wasn’t fair.
Adam: Probably not – I’d say Macclesfield created more chances, but couldn’t finish. The Barnet penalties were a bit dubious and they only really started playing in the second half.
Who, in your opinion was man of the match?
Ryan: Jose Veiga.
Who have you got next, and how do you think you’ll get on?
Ryan: It’s FA Cup weekend and we play Chelmsford City in the second round. I think Macc will win 3–1.

Thanks lads.

My final word:
Unbeaten throughout November, and finally good to turn our cup performances into League games. Although it wasn’t a particularly good game, largely unhelped by the tactics employed by Macclesfield (particularly in the second half), I think everyone is more than happy with the three points that get us further from the drop-zone. It’s the first game to I’d been to since Burton at home, so was pleased to see a couple of the new loan signings in action – even more so, after hearing many good things about them over the last couple of weeks or so. The two defenders Jack Saville (from Southampton) and Michael Hector (from Reading) impressed me, and have definitely helped to stabilise the back four. Maybe the turnaround is finally on…

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Who’d be a football manager?

Being a football manager must be a tough job, because let’s be honest, unless you are the calibre or have the successes of the likes of Sir Alex, you never know when you’ll be hitting the firing line. There will always be someone else out there who can do a better job than you! If you take into account all the money involved in the modern game, particularly in the top flight, the chances of job security are very slim – having money pumped into a club which reaps no real benefit or reward can only consequentially mean you’re back on the job search. And football fans have the right to express their displeasure when needed, as after all, it is them paying their hard-earned money to watch their teams. If the fans aren’t happy surely those who are the reason behind their unhappiness should hear about it. That’s not to say sometimes it’s taken one step too far…
For an example of that just take this first example of Glenn Roeder. I quite clearly remember back in 2001 when he was made manager of West Ham. At school a lot of the boys were Hammers fans and season ticket holders and I clearly remember them, and plenty of others being unhappy with the decision – particularly given the other names circulated in the media for the role. However, as is usually the case in these kinds of scenarios, they were willing to give him a chance. Coming originally from a London borough in Essex, West Ham was a reasonably local club for him, so there was no need for relocation. In fact, at this time, he was living in the next town from me (in Shenfield) and my family and I had seen him and his family about in the high street a number of times (I don’t think we ever spoke to him though). The club were going through a rough patch, which saw them in the relegation place at Christmas (which eventually saw them demoted), but the way in which he was treated shocks and sickens me, even to this day. It began with hate mail and death threats to him in his family, which were posted through the letterbox of his family home – both of which were totally unjustified – but eventually culminated in the vandalism and attacking of his home, by angry ‘fans’. It began with bottles through windows. I still recall it making the local newspaper, as well as obviously all the national reports. I think it was the fact that occurred so close to me and it was most likely to be local people behind it that scared me the most – of course, I was fairly young at the time. The fear that people could treat someone and the family of someone they didn’t personally know in that way was slightly harrowing. The abuse the family got as a result of his management was totally unnecessary and could well have been a reason behind his own personal health. I am all for expressing what you feel, but in this case, it was just one step too far.
Now to Barnet, which from an outsider’s view may appear somewhat like a circus, particularly when you look back at last season. I don’t think I have ever known two managers to be as disliked (openly disliked as well) as Mark Stimson of the previous campaign, and Lawrie Sanchez of this. Let’s start with the former. A ‘funny’ appointment it has to be said, particularly given his previous record. In all fairness he was given a chance, but it was near impossible to with some of the 17 or so signings he made and the final straw came on Tuesday November 2nd, following a 3-0 home defeat to rivals Stevenage. Really that should have been the end of it all – the humiliation of defeat in that way, the ineptitude he possessed, that single dire performance – but of course, it wasn’t. Every week the boos and jeers got louder and louder. It even got to the stage whereby someone even brought a “Stimson Out” banner to Underhill, only for it to be confiscated and the perpetrators to be ejected from the ground. The phrase ‘truth hurts’ springs to mind and I believe we went about it all the right way, there was no violence or vandalism…
Now onto the man behind our frustrations this season. Some fans are still undecided and there is a definite divide amongst the masses as to whether we should get behind him or want him gone. In all truth, he has done very little to endear himself to the faithful and the fact of the matter is that his past experience is, well, in the past! Very little has changed in this space of time: we find ourselves in a similar League position, we still concede unnecessary goals and too many of them, and don’t really look like improving. The fact he has taken the glory for our survival from last season is almost laughable and in no way a fair representation of what really happened. The way he presents himself to the media, whether that be talking about us or other aspects of football hasn’t helped matters. The comments regarding Nigel Worthington and hinting at a return to the national side only angered fans more and encouraged the weekly chants of “Sanchez for Ireland”. I can’t help but think had he kept that quiet, not so many would constantly be calling for his head. However, the complete contradictions he makes are somewhat confusing:
There is quite a big difference in what he says from one minute to the next – “the squad is good enough” … “I can’t find two in the centre half positions that work – new players need to be brought in”.
Fair enough, this has now been addressed with three defenders being brought in on monthly loans, but surely this should have been arranged sooner – and as a manager, this should have been his responsibility and priority. Obviously injuries (particularly to the back four), but the squad is not dissimilar from last season. If it wasn’t good enough then, he had plenty of time and windows of opportunity to do something about it.
Of course negativity gets you nowhere and probably doesn’t help the players on match day with the boos and chants, but I don’t think really, it should affect them in anyway – after all, the fans’ frustrations aren’t aimed at them! It would also be interesting to hear the opinions of those in the dressing room, as I can’t see him having any real control or ownership; especially if his demeanour is as blank as his expression from the dugout on a match day.
Fans’ poll
The question asked this time was ‘have you, or would you ever consider booing your own manager?’ – with the results being shown below:

I don’t think it’s any real surprise that ‘yes’ shaded it as football fans these days are known for saying and showing how they feel – particularly when their teams aren’t performing. Managers are under pressure the majority of the time, and even the views of fans could have an impact on their jobs. The people that voted ‘no’ were clearly not Barnet fans, either!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Two minutes with… Burton Albion

It took me a while to find one (over a week in fact), but ‘Two minutes with…’ this time round comes from the point of view of Burton Albion fan, Adam Drew (@adamBAFCdrew, on Twitter). Another day for us to forget in terms of the scoreline, but a thriller nonetheless at Underhill. Thanks to Adam for his contribution.
Barnet 3–6 Burton Albion
(McLeod ’39, Holmes ’55, Deering ’88 – Kee ’7 ’31 ’62, Yussuf ’74, Dyer ’84, Zola ’90+4)
Attendance 1,745 (away 209)
How did you get to the game?
I went on the coach, leaving from a pub called The Beacon.
What did you do pre-match?
I went to the Queens Arms for a few pre-match beers and a meal. Lovely pub – and the meals for were two for the price of one!
Where did you sit/stand in the ground?
I stood in the away end, next to the fence where Barnet’s fans stood. The bantrer exchanged between the fans was very good. It started off with Barnet’s fans singing about their 4-1 win over us last season, and continued to the songs until they equalised at 2-2. However, they were a lot quieter when we slammed in three goals to go 5-2 up.
What did you make of the game?
It was a fantastic game to watch – a goal-fest and great for the neutral. It was a tale of two awful defences, and could have ended up about 8-8.
Was the scoreline a fair reflection?
Yeah, I thought it was fair on the day. But if Barnet sort out their defensive troubles, they will climb the table as they are brilliant going forward.
Who, in your opinion was man of the match?
Our hat trick hero Billy Kee. He scored three fantastic goals that the keeper had no chance of stopping and worked extremely hard all game.
Who have you got next, and how do you think you’ll get on?
We have got Oldham Athletic in the first round of the FA Cup. Since the Barnet match, we’ve played Aldershot away and Macclesfield at home in the League. The FA Cup is famous for its upsets after all, anything can happen.

Thanks Adam

My final word:
Not much to say at all was there. It seems that every week our defence look like they’ve never met, and in truth, are as bad if not worse than last season. You don’t play a match, scoring three goals and expect to lose – but for every goal we seem to net, we concede countless more. It’s really frustrating as we are so good going forward, and most teams in the League would probably love to have Izale playing upfront for them. Luckily since the Burton game we’ve got two defenders in on loan, so hopefully they’ll make a difference!