WITH the exception of when it happened in 1993 and we all went down to Chapmans for a drink, I’ve never celebrated the departure of any Albion manager, whatever the circumstances.
The departure of Oscar Garcia in the wake of the embarrassing play-off exit at Derby wasn’t that much of a surprise. There have been whispers of an end-of-season exit for weeks, including him reportedly giving notice on his rented property in Brighton.
Ironically, our trip on the Lovebus on Sunday was one of the best-ever, interrupted only by that dire 90 minutes.
I’ve seen too many inept Albion performances over the years to get really upset.
However, I do have a lot of sympathy for the younger Albion fans, who would have had to have spent out a lot of hard-earned money to support their team on the day. And then only two of the players, Ulloa and Calderon, had the decency to applaud the loyal away support at the end of the game.
But what now for the Albion?
The media coverage surrounding Garcia’s exit indicates that the Albion have lost two quality managers in the last 12 months for effectively the same reason, budgetary issues.
And perhaps the most telling sentence in the account of Garcia’s exit was the fact that when he arrived at the Amex, he gave a list of player targets from Spain and elsewhere abroad, and not one was signed!
Many fans are beginning to now question the role and influence at the club of head of operations David Burke. Last year, clearly there were issues with him and Gus Poyet and his management team. That might have been put down to a good old-fashioned personality clash but 12 months on and it’s almost a carbon-copy situation, but with a different manager.
And, I have major doubts that any of the candidates being bandied around for the vacancy will agree to work under the current conditions, given the exits of both Poyet and Garcia.
Tomorrow, I’ve the pleasure of compering the Worthing Dynamos presentation night for the 16th consecutive year and recall the legendary Micky Adams telling a packed Pavilion at the 2000 event, “Let the managers manage”.
Well, maybe, Tony Bloom and Paul Barber should actually heed these words. Maybe the current blueprint might have worked at another club but it’s currently not at the Albion.
The next Albion manager should be just that, a manager, who chooses his own transfer targets, and is hands-on with recruitment and contract negotiations.
Excuse the pun, but for the Albion support, the playing field has well and truly changed.
After the troubles at the Goldstone and the eternal struggles at both Gillingham and Withdean, the club has moved on in a positive direction.
Yes, the stadium is amazing, and it’s great to see the core support more than treble over the last few years. But is it still the club we know and love as the Albion, or has it turned into a corporate animal?
We now pay more for our seats and football-related sundries than we could ever have imagined, and where’s it all going to stop, as we are continually told, for all of our increased outlay, the club still runs at a loss?
Perhaps a new quality manager, with the correct role for his job title, will bring an upturn in overall fortunes and an increased feel good factor. Otherwise, if it goes the other way, for all the talk of Financial Fair Play and budget levels, eventually if the crowds aren’t happy, the number of empty seats outnumbering the occupied ones isn’t as unthinkable as it sounds.
In short, this managerial appointment is probably the most important in the club’s history. Get it right and all this, including Sunday’s debacle, is a mere blip, but get it wrong, well, I don’t want to go there . . .