Big job for new boss Scott
Well, as the season draws to a close for 60 of the 72 Football League clubs, we’re all left to reflect on another season of any of the following emotions: frustration, disappointment, dismay, relief and – for some, but for the majority of us that most elusive commodity – ecstasy.
For us, the season just got worse and worse as it went on. A bit like Nizlopi, we were in the top two at Christmas but forgotten about by March. Indeed, since victory at Macclesfield on January 3rd, we’ve won six times. That’s six out of 25. Throw those lovely eight draws against Stockport, Cheltenham, Northampton et al into the mix, and, if my highly debatable arithmetic can pull me through, we’ve collected 26 points from a possible 65. That is not far from relegation form, and yet here’s the real sickener: we STILL only finished 2 points outside the playoffs.
Yes, after one of the worst runs of form a supposedly promotion seeking side has ever put together, we were still only one victory away from claiming that last spot in the top 7, a spot which Stevenage claimed with a paltry 69 points. It is absolutely shameful that we didn’t capitalise on that, and, in hindsight (although many of us saw it coming at the time) a travesty that we sacked our manager when 6th in the table. If watching Chesterfield, Bury and Wycombe celebrate promotion made us wonder ‘what if’, watching Accrington, Stevenage, Shrewsbury and Torquay will evoke the angrier question, ‘why not us?’.
But it wasn’t to be, and it’s time to look to the future, a future which looks decidedly uncertain. Off the field, we need to be back playing in Rotherham, in a brand new spanking ground, by the beginning of the 2012/13 season. All of which is great, other than for the fact that we haven’t laid a single brick yet.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and football stadiums aren’t built in 12 months! Essentially, here’s how I reckon things stand: if the ground goes ahead but we’re six months behind schedule with its building, the Football League will probably – though this is based entirely on reasonable assumption – cut us some slack. We’ll extend our lease at the Don Valley, and move into the new stadium when it’s ready.
Yet if, equally reasonably, we cannot fund an expensive new stadium in a time of economic crisis, that could be the end of Rotherham United Football Club. We’d be kicked out of the Football League and I dread to think what would become of the club. That sounds dramatic, yet, desperately, it’s the absolute truth. Ultimately, then, what happens on the field next season may actually pale into insignificance, but working on the dangerous premise that all goes swimmingly with the stadium, here’s how we stand:
For the 457th consecutive pre-season, we seem to be starting from scratch. I’ve managed to go through this blog without giving a solitary mention to our new boss Andy Scott, who demonstrated his desire to make the team his own by releasing five of our first team players and transfer listing two. Of those five released, three are home-grown, suggesting the lack of focus on the long-term that is harming this club still shows no sign of being resolved.
I trust Scott’s judgement and believe he’s a capable manager (if not a bit methodical or, to loosen the euphemism, a bit boring) but the likelihood is that he’ll bring in his own experienced, trusted journeymen and we’ll try and force our way out of the division.
That’s fine, but it isn’t exactly inspiring, and there’s no guarantee it’ll work. Indeed, Scott will have to bring in a number of new men to even enable us to field a team next season. Aside from those mentioned above, our three star men appear likely to be on their way. Adam Le Fondre has expressed a blatant desire to get out of League Two, while Nicky Law and Ryan Taylor are out of contract and seem reluctant to stay (Law looks set to make an unsurprising move to rivals Chesterfield).
So, our squad will mostly consist of a few 30+ year olds earning their last wage, a few defenders who would have been released if they weren’t contracted for another year and a few kids who’ve more experience of the Sheffield nightclubs than first team football. Scott deserves time to mould his own side and he might be successful but, if I was a betting man, which I am, I wouldn’t touch us with a bargepole next season.