In the build up to the World Cup, BBC3 aired one of those taste bud-whetting countdowns of the tournament’s most shocking moments. After showing the Maradona goal from 1986, a Z list personality ridiculed Peter Reid’s asthmatic tracking back as he ambled two yards behind El Diego for the duration of that run towards goal. I remember thinking that I hadn’t noticed a spent Reid struggling in the Mexican heat before having it spelled out but, more precisely, how I now deemed the Merseysider to be a proper dinosaur, a yesterday’s man whose recent involvement at Stoke couldn’t hide the fact that he’d become a footballing relic.
Several weeks later and he’s taken the helm at my team, Plymouth Argyle, and with a nod in the direction of this website’s impending evolution towards a wider coverage of the Football League, it seems only right to comment on his appointment.
Until a few days ago, Reid’s name hadn’t really been mentioned in relation to the vacancy, which was created at the end of last season after Paul Mariner was relieved of his managerial responsibilities. Mariner had still been cutting his teeth, but a combination of relegation from the Championship and a flatlining team spirit convinced the Board to seek an experienced replacement. Paul Jewell, Steve Cotterill and George Burley were, at times, each linked heavily but budgets and better offers curtailed those paths and the Pilgrims settled for Reid, whose last appointment in England was a full five and a half years ago.
The initial reaction from fans has been mixed. Argyle fans are generally a forgiving group and there’s been a fair amount of positivity: after such a long period of uncertainty, the appointment of a permanent manager with a good level of experience has come as something of a tonic. However, for every Green that is happy to give Reid doubt’s benefit, there’s an accusation of his synonymity with the backwards approach that held English football back for years. While our Devon Expressway rivals possess one of the game’s most progressive young managers, we’re now looking to the future with a man whose glory days were a decade ago.
Some Argyle fans have been crying out for a young and articulate up-and-comer of Tisdale’s ilk, but such an appointment never looked likely when the criteria was set for our new man. Not only did candidates have to possess proven experience, they also had to be willing to work with Mariner and his sidekick John Carver, who were each tied down to contracts during last season. Underlining the club’s precarious financial position, this stipulation must have deterred plenty of capable managers less keen on working with Argyle’s existing backroom staff from applying. Coupled with the issues laid out in The Herald this morning, many commentators might argue that the Pilgrims have actually done well in securing Reid.
This son of Huyton might belong to a generation marked by its suspicion of tactical innovation, but there could be some silver linings. To view things positively, the Westcountrymen have appointed a manager who’s achieved at the top level before taking time out of management after suffering a little burnout. Whether that hiatus was self-imposed is another question, but a refreshed Reid is in possession of a UEFA Pro-Licence coaching badge and will no doubt be able to draw upon his book of contacts to overhaul a desperately stale squad of players. If all else fails, he’ll at least cut the ever-frustrating Rory Fallon down to size once he sees the New Zealander in ‘action’.
The media has already taken notice: Argyle’s first game of the season at Southampton will be aired on Sky, presumably after Jeff Stelling had a word. Like a friend said when we appointed Ian Holloway in 2007: whatever happens, it isn’t going to be boring.