Saturday, 17 November 2007

Little Big Man

The last time Brian Little was in charge of a match at The Racecourse he walked away a 5-1 winner. You can’t argue with that, and someone who can put results on the table’s exactly what we need. Having existed for a few years now on the thought that when things turn our way we should pick up, it’s time for some hard-nosed realism.

I’ve got a good feeling about Little’s appointment. He has a genuine pedigree in the higher divisions as well as experience in the lower reaches, and is known to be an organiser. Of course, I could be wrong. Sometimes apparently perfect marriages still fall apart. Jose Mourinho and Chelsea. Graeme Souness and Liverpool. Even Chanelle and Ziggy! However, on paper the board have delivered exactly what they promised; an experienced hand at the rudder, and the postponement of Saturday’s game means he has a week at Collier’s Park to put his imprimature on the squad and possibly bring in some fresh blood.

Little inherits a decent squad from Brian Carey, which should give him plenty to work with. Carey had a decent eye for a player, I feel. Michael Proctor, Anthony Williams and Jeff Whitley contributed hugely to our survival last season, Richard Hope and Eifion Williams have good pedigrees in the lower leagues, and there was even logic behind the arrival of well-touted failures like John Ruddy and Cherno Samba, who clearly had ability but failed to live up to their billing.

It hasn’t been a lack of quality which has been our downfall this season, but a spectacular drain of the squad’s confidence due to the cumulative effect of finding new and exotic ways to lose matches week in, week out.

That’s where Little will hopefully make an immediate impact. The bounce teams experience when a new manager is appointed is a well-worn cliché in football, and like all clichés there’s a basis of truth to it. Under Little the squad can look to make a fresh start and the opportunity for a new man to re-evaluate the players could provide a kickstart. Carey was an inside appointment so his opinions had already been formed on the players he inherited; it might be good for them to have a new man to impress.

I realised that I wanted Little to get the job last Friday. Plenty of names had been circulating, and I had a hunch that Little was the man we would go for. However, on Friday my mobile went crazy and sent old texts to all and sundry. As a result, my Dad thought John Aldridge had been appointed and replied to that effect. When I read his text, assuming he’d heard something I hadn’t, my heart sunk and I realised how much I thought Little was the man for the job. No offence to John Aldridge as it could have been worse; at least he’s not Mark Wright!

So Little arrives with a reputation to live up to and a terrific burden, holding as he does our Football League future in his hands. He sounds like the right man for the job, but now we need to see that he is. We need him to be good; hoping he’ll succeed just isn’t an option.

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