The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

All for one and one for all

19 February 2020

Miss Guest Diary writes: I have been pondering what it must be like to be a football manager. To know that every game you are going to have to disappoint a dozen people because they won't make your starting line-up. To get everyone in your squad to a place where they are fit and raring to go, only to have to leave half of them on the bench or, even worse, in the stands.

And what is it like for the players themselves? To know that, if your performance is a bit under par, you catch a cold or get a knock, there is someone just waiting to step in and take over your job. Those of us who work outside the arena of professional team sport probably can't imagine what it's like – to have the fear that if you didn't do something perfectly the boss could simply give your job to the chap at the next desk.

That football managers can foster team spirit within a squad in those circumstances seems remarkable. But they do. I suspect Ian Holloway may be very good at it. Taking the entire squad bowling before the Colchester game for some team bonding seemed like a bit of an old-fashioned thing to do. As things turned out, maybe it was a stroke of genius.

These thoughts arose after reading the report of yesterday's reserve game against Doncaster Under-23s. Two of the players singled out for praise were Max Wright and Harry Clifton – two of 'our own'. In the eight games since Holloway took over, Max Wright has made only two starts. Clifton has been playing more often, but was absent from the starting line-up at both Colchester and on Saturday against Morecambe. And I wonder how many of those starts Clifton would have got had The Hess not been taken out in the fourth minute against Stevenage?

Much as we fans would like local players to feature in the team, you can't argue with the fact that the players brought in by the new manager - like Josh Benson, Anthony Glennon and Elliot Grandin – are improving the performances, and the results. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that The Hess, my current Town favourite, manages to get back in the team when he is fit again.

Something else in yesterday's Grimsby Telegraph caught my eye: an interview with Ian Evatt. He is the manager of Barrow, who are currently top of the National League. Evatt played under Ian Holloway at both QPR and Blackpool. Some of the quotes in the article could have come from Holloway himself.

For example: "What is football? What do you believe in? I believe that football is there as an entertainment industry. Supporters work hard, 9-5, five or six days a week, to be able to afford to come to football. If my team are just going to set up to win games by set pieces and long balls, it's not what I would want to spend my hard-earned money to watch."

And this: "I don't believe there are any footballers brought up to be physical, play for set-pieces, direct. Nobody sets out to play that way. People do it because they think it gets them results. It might be okay for some teams and some managers to put up with that. I couldn’t sleep at night if I was going about trying to win football matches that way. I want my teams to be possession-based, attacking and free-scoring."

If Barrow do get promoted, Town's games against them next season will be something to really look forward to. And if Holloway doesn't work out as Town manager, we know where to go for his replacement. UTMM