Date: 11th April 2010 at 8:22pm
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Gary Ablett must feel like the world’s against him. Over-seeing a team with an enforced capacity of just 20 players, endlessly being compared to the ‘irreplaceable’ Jim Gannon and having the worst win percentage record as a Football League manager.

That’s just 12% by the way. 5 wins in the season, with 5 games to go. We as County fans know why that is – of course, without the administration hell and the embargoes we’ve been working under, maybe he wouldn’t have that record. Probably not.

As you can read in THIS BBC Sport interview with Ablett, some of the constraints Ablett’s faced beggar belief. And there’s no doubt that any working environment – especially one in the football business – that had been torn apart like County’s has would severely effect morale for any team of footballers. Not to mention the beatings we’ve been taking for most of the season.

And taking all that into account, you do feel for him. Any person with any sort of humane feelings would do.

Maybe if it was a Palmer or a Paul Lambert, a real spiky, nasty character, it’d be easier for us to toss them aside just by looking at their record and not feeling any guilt or sympathy.

But you can tell from interviews, and from meeting Ablett, that he is just a nice man. Away from the pitch and on it.

But then you come to the argument that ‘football is a results business.’ And though it isn’t as black and white as that statement, it mainly is. And Ablett’s results have been extremely poor. Obviously, it goes without saying that the conditions he’s been working in have been pretty dire.

And it boils down to the fact that there’s no money. No funds.

But it doesn’t take funds or money to man-mark a footballer. To switch to a 4-5-1 tactic instead of 4-4-2. To not take a striker off and replace him with a defender when you’re 1-0 down at home and staring relegation in the face.

Also, there’s the issue of youngsters on the bench. Maybe Ablett didn’t want to replace the striker with another striker from the bench in the above situation because the substitutes are all youth team players?

That’s wrong. Look, we as County fans are pretty used to getting beat. Relegations. But we can pretty much forgive the team for any defeat if we can see that they’re trying. Putting the effort in. I.e. not like the appalling 3-1 defeat to Yeovil on Saturday where the team collectively looked completely disinterested.

Bringing a youngster on and sticking him up front may not work. And we may lose. But if the team run around putting their heart and souls into challenges and tackles then it’s not the end of the world. We’d be proud of the team if relegation came at the end of the season and the side went down fighting for the shirt. For us. But we haven’t had that this season.

Look at Portsmouth. Wembley today. Completely unexpectedly seeing off a superior Spurs side 2-0 to reach the FA Cup final. Portsmouth are basically a bigger version of us – yes, we’re in a much worse situation but the shell of it is similar. Administration, both teams relegated, no money. Star players being sold off.

So how do Pompey beat these sides? How do they beat the Tottenham’s and the Liverpool’s?

Well, they’ve got a manager who actually changes things around. Reacts to the on-pitch situation. Not being afraid to use a 4-3-3, or a 4-5-1. You don’t need money to do that.

Or another example, Bournemouth. Skint. Been under a transfer embargo for over a year. Working with the same constraint as Ablett – 20 players to a squad. And on Saturday, Eddie Howe’s side can clinch promotion.

My pretty long-winded point is, I feel for Ablett. And the back-room staff. But the terrible scenes off the pitch can only protect you so much. The players not having an Xbox to play with at the training ground doesn’t mean you can’t win football matches. If Ablett says, like he does after nearly every defeat, ‘We are a match for most sides in this division’ then why are we losing so often? Why are we relegated with the worst home record in the league?

Because the management team isn’t working.

At the end of the BBC Sports article further up, Paul Fletcher notes the ‘speculation’ about a Gannon return if the 2015 Group win the battle to buy the club, and that Ablett may not get the chance to ‘put things right’ with us.

That will mainly evoke sympathy from those who read it. And if you’re asking me, I’d say that Gannon probably will come back.

But Gannon or no Gannon, I think we need a change. We could wait for Ablett to give it a go in League Two, but how long do we give it? Will we still be feeling sorry for him then?

Just to do the deed again and compare him to Gannon…

Gannon = Stubborn, sometimes arrogant. Not afraid of giving his opinion and making sure we all hear. One of the most successful managers of our history. And the most popular.

Ablett = Universally (by County fans I should say!) accepted as a nice guy. Honest. And just 5 wins in 41 games. 12% win record.

And it gets to a point where you have to stop using the reasons of ‘the players having no vending machines at the training ground’ for that record.

If we do get the chance to get Gannon, we have to take it. It CAN work. Without him being paid massive amounts.

So yes, I feel for Ablett. But to use one last cliché…‘there’s no room for sentiment in football.’


2 Replies to “I feel for Ablett but it’s no contest with Gannon”

  • Gotta agree. Even if it isn’t Gannon, just a change. The BBC article notes Ablett’s working without a contract. So by that, the 2015 Group should really be getting a new manager in anyway. Thanks for the effort Ablett but we need change at the club with the new owners, from top to bottom.

  • If only our boys could produce the sort of spirit shown by pompey for the remaiming games ! Now that would cheer everyone up ! We may even think about giving GA a proper chance to show what he can do.

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