Monday, 24 November 2014

Que sera sera...

I wasn't at the game on Saturday, and the scoreflash which arrived at my phone at 3.03pm announcing Steve Elliott's goal while I was drinking South African cider in Covent Garden was a welcome sight.
The five flashes - four Wycombe goals and Lee Vaughan's red card - which followed were not so welcome, so I had a few more South African ciders, and forgot about it in a moshpit at Brixton Academy, with a bit more cider followed by a few shorts.
I know. I'm far too old for that sort of thing. On reflection it sounds like I made the wiser choice.
So now we really have a problem. Where do we go from here?
Nine points from 36. Four defeats in a row, the last two conceding five goals, then four - and from what I have been told, Vaughan's red card didn't have as much impact as maybe Nathan Thompson's had a couple of weeks before.
Today we had a statement from Paul Baker which can only be described as vote of confidence, without the confidence part - basically he is saying we know the results are rubbish, and we sort of think Mark Yates is the man to turn it around, but we aren't really sure. Sort of.
All a bit indecisive, hardly a ringing endorsement, and hardly suggesting that the manager has a long-term future in his job.
Basically, we are now down to everything going from game to game. One bad result and he is out. Oxford next Saturday is a must win.
Even a draw might not be enough, and losing to Dover is unthinkable.
That would surely be terminal - but that game is the one looming on the horizon and is so financially important for the rest of this season and beyond.
The club simply cannot afford to lose that game, so to rock the boat with a managerial change before that might well be something that the board want to avoid. Too much turmoil.
I know some fans have made their minds up already, and say enough is enough. Fair enough - but I just get the impression that the board want desperately to give Yates the next two games and then reassess.
The caution from Paul Baker also displays his seeming reluctance to go through the process of picking a new manager after having his fingers burnt by Martin Allen and Bobby Gould. But it increasingly looks like he will have to do it at some point soon unless the results turn around dramatically.
Many fans say that Yates would not be in the job now if he was not our former captain and had such links to the club. I have to say I agree with that. It has definitely bought him some time an 'outsider' might not have been given.
Others point to the two play-off seasons as a sign of what Yates can do. Yes they were great. But that was a long time ago now. As the players have moved on, maybe we have to move on.
He has not been able to re-create that formula from 2011-12 for one reason or another. But we cannot go on living on past glories. Those days have gone, and are consigned to YouTube memories. This is about the here and now.
The board have to decide if now, he is the man who can inspire this group of players to turn around this slide in form - and also assess whether the players want to do it for him any more. That is the crux of it.
If they think he is, then let's get on with it. Say he is the man, give him a proper vote of confidence, and let's all get behind him. If they don't think he is, then let's move on, and see who else is out there. No indecision.
Basically, back him properly, or sack him.
Whatever happens, some of the players need to take a long hard look at themselves and ask if they have been doing all they can for their manager.
Paul Baker said in his statement that the fans can 'influence the decision'. But the main people who will influence the decision are the players. Their performances in the next few games will decide whether Yates keeps his job. The old 'lost the dressing room' thing.
Only the players know if they are putting it all in for their manager, but some of them need to raise their performance levels dramatically if they want the man who has put his trust in them and given them a livelihood to keep his job because at the moment they are not repaying that trust at all.
The time is never right to change a manager. Some clubs have done it in this division, and it hasn't been the magic wand they were looking for - Hartlepool and Tranmere are still beached in the bottom two, York haven't dramatically improved and Carlisle, after an initial lift, have gone a bit hit and miss again.
Those four are in the bottom five along with Dagenham, where Wayne Burnett has come under pressure after their Cup loss at Southport. Next above them are Oxford, where Michael Appleton has had a tricky few months after taking over, then us. Above us are Mansfield, who got rid of Paul Cox last week.
Burton are a different case as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has taken over a group of players who were in a good position and a confident mood. Two wins in two games is a decent start for him.
From a sentimental point of view, I don't want Yatesy to be sacked. This is Yatesy. A decent bloke who cares about and ran through walls for this club. Our captain, our number eight.
I'd love nothing more than to see him turn it round, stick his fingers up to everyone who has doubted him and has called for his head and take us on a long unbeaten run, storming up the table and into the third round of the Cup.
I don't want him to get abuse from the terraces or on social media (and I have read some in the last few days and it makes me sick - yes, have an opinion on whether he should stay or go, but at least keep it civil, without saying he is a 'c**t who should f**k off' as one - now blocked - so called CTFC fan posted).
I don't want his reputation soured by a messy end to his association with our club, if it is the end. He deserves better, and he deserves some respect.
But there is no room for sentiment in football I'm afraid. If the board ultimately decide that it is the right thing for Cheltenham Town FC that he has to go, then I will trust and back them to make that decision. Whatever will be, will be.