Tough task ahead for Yates and Cheltenham
This is an important first summer for Mark Yates in his relatively new post as manager of Cheltenham Town. A legend as a player, Yates did little more than a satisfactory job last season in stabilising the club and securing another term in the Football League after Martin Allen’s frankly disastrous 11-month reign.
A sign of how bad things were last season was the selection of 39-year-old striker Julian Alsop as the Supporters Player of the Year, despite featuring in 40 games and scoring just four goals. As was ever the case with Alsop, it was effort over substance that won him the favour of fans.
There was a stark contrast with the treatment of fellow forward Justin Richards, who scored 15 goals in 44 games despite often demonstrating lazy body language.
Richards was booed by some supporters at the final game of the season. No wonder then that Richards chose to leave for Port Vale when his contract ran out this summer.
It was clear the squad of players Yates inherited from Allen was simply not good enough. It was well known too that the entire squad, bar one player, was out of contract, so the opportunity was there for a big clear out.
Given Cheltenham’s recent history of struggling to attract new talent and muddling by with existing players, there remained a question mark over whether it would actually take place.
The answer that came was a resounding yes, with eight players not offered contracts – including the highly rated pair of David Hutton and Michael Townsend. Admittedly, at a recent Fans Forum, Yates was quoted as saying that Townsend’s release was “not just for football reasons” — make of that what you will.
So Yates now has the task of building an entire squad for next season, and with only a handful of players contracted for next season, he can hardly use the excuse that it is “not his team”. For the sake of his reputation, and Cheltenham’s Football League status, the hope must be that no excuses are necessary.
Written by: Tim Nicholls