Something For The Weekend (24)
After 0 points from 9 over the Christmas period and some less than great reactions from The Memorial Stadium crowd the inevitable finally happened and Paul Buckle was relieved of his duties as Bristol Rovers manager. There is plenty that could be said about Paul Buckles tenure, but the simple fact was we were sliding down the table and we are in real threat of relegation to the Conference unless there is a real improvement in performances and/or personnel. In the last few games Paul Buckle did not look like man able or perhaps wanting to make things better as he was often rooted to the bench with his arms folding as the team collapsed in front of him. He`s gone now and we now have the big task of appointing another new manager and hopefully this time the right one to help move us forward. Whatever anyone`s feelings on Paul Buckle and his action, comments or ability we must all agree that it is a disappointment to have to replace yet another manager. Repeatedly sacking managers is not a recipe for success in it`s self. I would rather we didn`t have to sack Paul Buckle, but for a number of reason we had to.
We do need to make a quick appointment, but not a rushed one as we cannot afford to waste time as last year showed. We need to get a new guy in place and try and get the points on board as soon as possible to make sure we are safe from relegation. In some ways we are lucky we have a cup game this week to aid our time to appoint a new manager but this is quickly followed on Tuesday with a vital away game at Hereford, a game we certainly cannot afford to lose. It could be nice if we could at least announce a manager before hand to perhaps give a confidence boost even if they cannot effect the game directly. On the subject of timing, I was a little disappointed to hear Nick Higgs say he decided was going to sack Buckle after the Crewe game. If he was thinking it he should have done so and asked North/McGleish to have taken the Barnet game. If he was no longer confident in Mr Buckle, than he potentially wasted an opportunity to get something from the Barnet game by not making the change. What would Nick Higgs had though if we had gone out and beat Buckle 3 or 4 nil. We probably would have waited another week or two and then who knows.
As for the new manager themselves, well there have been plenty of names banded about as they invariably are and there are some I like the look of and some not so much, but of course you never know what will happen until someone actually takes up the position and gets a chance to work. The only name I have concerns about that has been mentioned and supported by many it seems judging by Radio Bristol and the forums is Gary Johnson. I am not a massive fan myself but if he were to get the job he would get my support. I don`t care about his past connections, I would certainly welcome any ex-City player or manager if I felt they could do a job. However there are plenty who do and at a time when we need unity and to pull together I don`t see Mr Johnson as that candidate. There is too much baggage from his Yeovil and City days and he would need to win every game and then some to win certain people round in my view and that simply isn`t possible. If we failed to hit the ground running there would certainly be plenty of mumbles and groans about the man in the dugout and his past rightly or wrongly.
This weekend sees a Shaun North led Rovers take on Aston Villa in the live ESPN spectacle in t third round proper of the FA Cup. There should be a full house for the TV cameras as they hope for a shock against a hit and miss Villa with a manager not entirely well liked by their own fans. Before Paul Buckle`s sacking I was really worried about this game and us getting a right battering. I was certainly seeing 7 and 8 in my nightmares, but with perhaps a renewed sense of energy we might just give them a game.
Before I finish I must touch on the sad news on the passing of Denis Dunford. There are many people who could say much more about Denis than I can and how important he was to Bristol Rovers, but mine and all our thoughts go out to the Dunford family at this sad time. When we take to the field to face Aston Villa I am sure we will all show are respects to a great man. In a no lose game with plenty to gain there is only one last thing to say
Do It For Denis!
Simon 'Sprout` Phillips