Paul Fairclough reflects on an incredibly busy week at Barnet FC.
After the defeat at Chester and the Departure of Edgar Davids it was important that we very quickly established the temperature in the changing room. During a very emotional and confidential meeting with the players on Sunday it was very clear and quite unanimous that the group enjoyed the type of football they had been coached to play and furthermore, respected Ulrich and Dick both as coaches and as people.
Equipped with those facts I was able to immerse myself with the squad for a couple of days. My normal role is to oversee football at the club and not interfere with coaching sessions, tactic’s etc. However, on this occasion I was able to get a real in depth feel of the squad.
The one and only training session I was involved in on Monday blew me away. The passion, commitment, desire, energy and ability was clear before my eyes. On drawing the players together at the end of the session it was quite evident that it was the norm for their training sessions!
However, what went on the pitch against Aldershot and indeed Chester bore no resemblance to the exhilarating training session. The “extra” bit I added involved changing a few personnel and also tweaking the shape of the side. Whilst the players were fuelled and raring to go before kick-off, I feel the changes had an adverse effect on the team manifesting in a shockingly under par performance.
During the last few years we have made managerial appointments that have not worked out. Eventually, the Dutch brigade was put in place and there was an immediate change in the style of play. It was not a consistent winner, indeed we were relegated, but I believe everyone could see the attractive style of football we were trying to play.
This season started well and we had a brief spell at the top of the League. Our problem was, in my opinion, that we did not have a plan B. It was not long before all opposition clubs did two simple things; capitalise on Edgar’s fiery temper and press our back four hard when we tried to play out from the back. On numerous occasions we started to get caught in possession and concede goals from free kicks given out of desperate measures having lost the ball deep in our own half.
It is very tempting to “knee jerk” and make radical changes and make yet another new start. I for one “knee jerked” after the Aldershot game but on reflection when all the dust had settled I could see clearly that Rome wasn’t built in a day! It can take years to develop a style that has deep and strong roots. We are fortunate in the sense that Academy Director James Thorne has cultivated strong roots with our kids that cannot be pulled up when things get stormy. We are not that far away and it would not be right to abandon ship.
Consequently, Dick and Uli will be given some further time to demonstrate they can develop a plan B, and C if needed. Also, to turn the attractive football into winning football. Complete, with analyst Omar Yabroudi, they are an extremely knowledgeable, intelligent, hardworking and likeable team. They deserve the opportunity.
We have reacted quickly to support them by securing the services of loan favourite Danny Lopez. Chairman Tony Kleanthous had never given up on Danny returning when his loan came to an end. Despite all the hurdles put in front of him he has managed to secure Danny for the rest of the season. Danny fits the style of football and the sheer quality of his last goal for us will remain as a high point of this season.
Perhaps, in the next few weeks, we could have a fans evening were you could really get to know the guys. You would be impressed. Working for the Bees means so much to them. In the meantime it would be really useful if they felt your unconditional support.