OK, so I never made any bold claims about how often I would update this blog. My abstinence is not a profound embarrassment regarding my wham-bam opening post describing how Stan just needed a few more weeks and the players would all start clicking away together like metronomes on a piece of plywood supported by two cans of pop.
You see, I didn’t want this to be a traditional “we wun 2day 2-1!!!” diary-style blog. I have typical delusions of grandeur that I am to write insightful articles that will spark comment streams as long as one of the balls Stan was overseeing our defenders hit up to Liam Dickinson’s confused head a few weeks ago (and I am aware that ending two consecutive paragraphs with a simile renders the technique slightly less effective – I just enjoyed these two – particularly the metronomes one – I mean, how cool is that?).
Anyway, Stan has gone. He departed three weeks ago, taking his assistant Ronnie Jepson, first-team coach Mick Docherty, physio Ian Liversedge and, most pleasingly, vice-chairman Andrew Watson with him. Despite calls by the current chairman Ken Davy and chairman-elect Dean Hoyle to give thanks to Mr Watson for what he has done at the club, I prefer to remember an uncommunicative lickspittle to Mr Davy who did everything he could to obstruct people who wanted answers about the secretive way the stadium shares were transferred away from the football club and mislead fans time and again in radio interviews about how the club was on a sound financial footing and how much the academy directly cost the club to run each year. It’s no secret now that Ternent was his choice and after it proved an unmitigated disaster, the only course of action left open to him was to fall on his sword. Farewell, Smithers.
The reason given for Ternent’s ‘mutual consent’ (yeah, yeah) exit was ‘a disagreement about how to take the club forward’ between Hoyle and the alleged-but-cleared Burnley brawler. Common suspicion is that Ternent didn’t much like the academy system and wanted the club to source talent a different way. Personally, I think having an academy is a beacon of goodness for a club in division three. OK, it may have churned out quite a few mediocre lightweights over the last few years, but when we get it right, we get a good player for a season or two and a big wedge of cash if we sell them. Anyway, Ternent was out and although it was sad to see the back of Ronnie Jepson with the reputation he had at the club from his playing days, right now he is associated with Ternent and as such is associated with failure.
Step forward our beloved Brian Glover doppelgänger Director of Football Development (and former Academy Director) Gerry Murphy, assisted by another former town player Graham Mitchell. Although his spell of six games in charge at the end of Peter Jackson’s second spell in 2006/07 was not so successful, his last secondment towards the end of last season (after dugout-leaning dullard Andy Ritchie was sent packing) was more fruitful. He engineered two draws followed by four wins to round off the season in style – the sweetest moment undoubtedly being the 1-0 home win against Leeds, with Andy Holdsworth heading the only goal of the game.
This time round his first game was an insane FA Cup first-round tie against Port Vale. After leading 3-1 with eleven minutes to go, Town capitulated to lose 4-3 with the winner a sweetly struck free-kick in the last minute. Inevitably, questions about fitness were asked, particularly after we had seen it all before only a few weeks ago. His second game probably couldn’t have been a tougher prospect. With forwards Luciano Becchio and Jermaine Beckford in awesome form, England under-21 midfielder Fabian Delph attracting the attention of Arsène Wenger among others and a defence full of quality players with international and major European competition experience, Leeds United are undoubtedly the biggest club in League One. After going behind to Robert Snodgrass’ opener after four minutes, Town played with a resilience and battling quality rarely seen this season and after Joe Skarz capitalised on Casper Ankergren’s inability to deal with a Keigan Parker cross just after half-time, Michael Collins contorted has body wonderfully to volley home Danny Cadamerteri’s cross in the last minute of injury time. Collins was on hand again to sweep home the only goal of the game away at Brighton on Saturday.
So it’s two league wins in a row for ‘Sir’ Gerry who is fast becoming one of the most successful managers (by win percentage) the club has never officially had. Although he claims he doesn’t want the job full-time, it is interesting to note that four of the six goals that have been scored with him in charge were scored by graduates of the academy he crafted. The same academy that Stan Ternent didn’t trust enough to put his faith in, preferring instead to attempt to spend his way out of this division. Well Stan, I hope you enjoy your Christmas dinner at home, because we’ve got a table to climb.