Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.
So it would seem the great Get Wilkin Out Scare has begun to run out of steam. It was a squall which told us a lot about our expectations as a football club, but more about the nature of modern society.
Like the first cuckoo of spring, each manager inevitably hears fans demand his head at some point in any job he takes. The first cries of “Wilkin out!” were heard at the Telford game, followed by a messageboard storm as fans vented their fury over a dreadful defeat.
That anger seems to have abated now, but the lingering sense remains that fans are tired of being in the Conference: that tense feeling of desperation we experienced when we were pushing for promotion has been replaced by a more raw yearning for something better as we contemplate a second year in which such ambitions aren’t on the horizon.
As for the broader picture, is it my imagination or has the naturally impatient nature of the football fan taken a turn for the urgent? It seems to me that fans are more eager than ever for instant success: certainly when Wilkin was appointed it was broadly felt that he had a medium-term building project on his hands. However, a down turn in results threw such a measured approach out of the window for many.
So have fans become more desperate for instant gratification in an age when we’re spoiled by social media and on demand this and that, expecting everything to happen immediately, if not sooner? Or is it simply that the spread of modern forms of communicate means we’re made more aware of dissatisfaction, and people are more emboldened, willing to reveal their previously private feelings?
I’m not sure what the answer is, but I do know one thing for certain: it would take more than the current run of results to push the board into drastic action. The process which ended in Wilkin’s appointment was a protracted one, and the board were proud of the due diligence they carried out to the extent that they devoted a good chunk of the press conference unveiling the new boss to explaining it step-by-step. Quite apart from anything else, it would make them look rather foolish if they then dismissed their chosen candidate less than a year later.
No manager is immune to the pressure of results, of course, and we can’t afford too many more Braintree/Dartford/Telford performances. However, for what it’s worth, I think Wilkin deserves a chance to carry out the task he was given: namely a couple of years to reshape the squad.
I like the players he’s brought in, and when the transfer window opened he was at a point where he was a couple of judicious signings short of what looked like a complete squad. He may well have brought those required players in during January: it’s only right that’s he’s given a chance to finish the job he’s started.