Jacko can sweep Bulls off their feet
Football League chairmen and managers are keeping Mike Holden busy as he continues his assignment of covering every managerial departure in all three divisions beneath the top flight. The latest casualty is Hereford United boss Simon Davey, but the next gaffer at Edgar Street will have another man to replace as well.
Following Graham Turner into the dugout at Hereford was never going to be an easy task for any manager, but you would have expected better from Simon Davey.
The Welshman survived just ten league matches with the Bulls and, despite the news coming just three days after the LMA released a scathing statement about clubs indulging in knee-jerk reactions and breeding instability, you won’t find too many dissenting voices about this dismissal following a dreadful opening sequence of results.
Indeed, the shocking thing about this story isn’t the umpire’s decision to stop play for bad light but just how quickly and thickly the storm clouds had gathered. The contrast in mood at Edgar Street between Davey’s appointment in June and the delivery of his P45 on Monday couldn’t be more stark.
Clearly something wasn’t right and you feared how the situation might have escalated had it been allowed to continue.
A sexy appointment
That’s not to say there was anything misplaced about the initial optimism. Hereford fans had every right to be excited when Davey quit his job at Darlington to take on this challenge. Even among the neutral observers outside of the market town, this was largely considered to be a sexy appointment.
After all, it was barely two years ago he led Barnsley to an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, outwitting Rafa Benitez and Avram Grant in successive rounds, as the Tykes pulled off two of the biggest sensations in the competitions’ modern-day history.
Beyond that, there might not have been much sign of any long-term progress at Oakwell but everybody knew the club’s limitations in the Championship and Davey’s time in charge was largely acknowledged to be a relative success on the whole, simply for keeping heads above water.
Of course, survival in the Championship is one thing and being bold in pursuit of promotion from the basement is another, but it wasn’t like Davey didn’t know the course and distance at this level.
As a player, he skippered both Carlisle and Preston to the old third division title in successive seasons during the mid 1990s, earning himself a place in the PFA team for both campaigns, while it can only have helped his mission at Hereford to have had that little taster with the Quakers last term.
What went wrong?
So what might have been the problem? How on earth do you begin to explain a return of five points from ten matches and a goal difference of minus-16 from an established gaffer who confessed to being happy with his lot before a ball was kicked back in August?
Well, as with anything, you can only go off what you learn from what’s out in the public domain but there’s enough in all of this to suggest that a subtle variable might have had devastating consequences.
Judging by his media interviews, Davey talks a good game. He has all his coaching badges, an impressive network of contacts across the globe and displays a clear sense of purpose about his methods, how teams should prepare and how the game should be played. However, it often seems as though you also need to be a willing audience in order to take on board what he’s saying – and therein might lie the problem.
Turner club around
Because when a club is so intrinsically linked with one man as Hereford is with Graham Turner, it often takes a larger-than-life character to come in and drive it forward in the immediate aftermath of his departure. So perhaps it could be argued that Davey paid the price for being a little bit too measured and thoughtful at the expense of natural charisma.
That’s not to say Turner was ever abundantly charismatic. He was simply part of the furniture at Edgar Street, involved in literally everything that happened behind the scenes. In his long-standing dual role as chairman and manager, he was as hands-on in the day-to-day running of a football club as it’s ever possible to imagine, so his departure inevitably leaves a substantial void that needs filling.
More to the point, what Hereford are faced with right now is a crisis of identity. The point being that Graham Turner was their identity, now they don’t have one. And like an ex-girlfriend that moves on quicker than you ever anticipated, it will only add weigh heavier on their hearts that Turner himself has discovered a new lease of life, planting the seeds of a new promotion challenge with an old flame up the A49.
The conclusion from all of this is that the Bulls don’t only need a manager when they make this next appointment, what they need at this point in their history is a personality, somebody who can entertain and inspire in equal measure.
They need a man who will provide a constant source of merriment for the players, for the media, for the fans, even for the tea lady. Essentially, what they need is somebody to play a similar role to the one Ian Holloway has played since he walked into Blackpool a year ago, a man who can help the club to forget that Graham Turner ever existed.
It’s only a stab in the dark at this point, an instinctive response without any consideration for a long list of possible alternatives, but that man might just be Peter Jackson.
The self-styled ‘Yorkshire Mourinho’ might fancy himself a bit too much, he might sometimes promise the earth and fail to deliver, but at least he has what it takes to sweep Hereford off their feet and get them smiling again.