Cod Almighty | Article
1 October 2008
Relax, Grimsby fans! I think you're going to be OK.
John Fenty might rank right up there among the worst chairmen in the Football League, but one thing he is most definitely not - and even his most fervent of critics would agree with this - is a criminal with a proven history of financial misdeeds. Or a cheat. Why, therefore, would he contemplate, even for a fraction of a second, appointing a manager who, without the fake money required to sign players who were quite literally out of his league, succeeded only in spectacularly relegating my club while employing a brand of football so diabolically primitive that even Grimsby Town managed a 6-0 win at York Street?
The answer is: he almost certainly wouldn't. Not seriously. And here's why.
To the untrained eye, an eye through which some of your more demented messageboard trolls appear to view the world, Evans does indeed look like a decent choice. He boasts an apparently superlative track record of success in the lower leagues and a knack for signing players who wouldn't otherwise dream of coming to hapless no-name clubs in the middle of nowhere; he's media-savvy, passionate, a born winner and a man who won't take no for an answer. He is cuddly and loves kittens. He even wears mascara on live television broadcasts.
Unfortunately, although the bit about the mascara is true (we have the tapes to prove it), his managerial ability is an illusion. His success has always been based on spending more money than his rivals, and if that means he has to cheat Revenue & Customs to free up the necessary sums, so be it. Put simply, Boston's title-winning team would never have existed had Evans been forced to live within his means. We wouldn't even have made the insane decision to go full time. My grandmother could have won the Conference with Boston United in 2002, and she died in 1987. And even then, Evans only scraped the title on goal difference. Jesus!
And when he can't splash the cash, things really get ugly. Hoofball football, five-a-side training, a conveyor belt of players - emergency loan deals and academy kids too scared to stand up for themselves - as Evans alienates one proper footballer after another with his own self-destructive brand of megalomania before farming them out on loan to Alfreton Town. Evans says he's learned his lesson and preaches transparency and accountability these days, only for rival managers to blow his cover by revealing just how much cash Crawley are flashing at players. It seems to be a lot. Where's the money coming from? Fuck knows. Crawley fans aren't asking, and neither did we.
Thinking 'the board' would keep Evans in check was where we Boston fans went wrong. Make no mistake, Evans ran United from top to bottom, but not in the good, Brian Clough sense. He was a malevolent nuisance and thought nothing of using the official programme and website to issue thinly veiled personal threats at supporters who questioned the Evans Mantra. Likewise, his influence at Crawley extends into the boardroom (you will find his father-in-law there) and the press releases on the Crawley site read much like those which we became horribly accustomed to during his spell in charge.
In other words, Evans doesn't take orders: he issues them. Crucially, unlike Boston and Crawley, you actually have a chairman who, however abject he might appear, would certainly assert his authority over Evans and presumably ensure you can actually afford the players you're signing. As such, I strongly suspect the rumours are without foundation. Indeed, they might conceivably have been instigated by Krankie himself in order to big himself up in the eyes of the Sussex crowd. It's a tactic we used to see regularly.
Until Fenty appoints a proper manager - or at least until Evans makes a great show of staying at Crawley because the place has 'massive potential' and he's 'passionate' about taking them to a First Ever Football League Promotion - expect your fans to be split right down the middle. On one side you will have people who rightly condemn any interest in the man as a sign of how morally bankrupt Fenty has become in his desperation to avoid somehow undertaking Luton Town in the race to the Conference. These people are 100 per cent correct and should be applauded for looking beyond mere results and towards the greater good.
Then you will have those deluded idiots who say things like: 'lol i dont care wot hes done in the past as long as he gets results on the pitch come on he deserves another chance get behind the lads lollolol' or 'you can't fault his track record' (when in fact you quite emphatically can). They're either Steve's brother or actual fans who, frankly, need harpooning in the head - much like the seal-clapping twats at Crawley who believe that they're blessed with the greatest managerial talent since Bill Shankly.
Boston fans thought that once. On Saturday we're playing Bradford Park Avenue as underdogs while the chairman begs for £25,000 to keep us in business.