Thursday, December 01, 2005

1 December 2005: Management

Seems a while since I mentioned football on here. There's a good reason for that: unusually, both my teams are having 'nothing' seasons. Saints and Argyle float in mid-table obscurity in the second tier of English football, although Argyle are only a couple of bad results away from the drop zone (it was ever thus when they're in this division). No cup runs, no controversial happenings, no boardroom politics (at least, not since Argyle appointed the dull Tony Pulis whose only action so far has been to cancel the contract of fifty-seven year old zimmer-frame applicant Taribo West).

But over the last couple of days, SaintsForever has been going a bit crazy, which will worry Keith a little since he's short of bandwidth at the best of times. Is it just that we're looking for something to talk about? Maybe. But the news that Milan 'I hate all managers' Mandaric has sacked Alain Parrin as Pompey's boss has led to a flurry of speculation that the next manager might just be the same as the last one. According to BlueSquare (as I write this, at least) Harry is 3/1 on favourite for the job, having come in from 9/4 on earlier this morning. Media speculation continues to point to Neil Warnock giving up his beloved Sheffield United job (and the prospect of taking them into the Premiership this year) for the Pompey job (and the prospect of a relegation battle and quite possible relegation this year). Mmm, let me think for a moment, I wonder what I'd do if I were him?

(Actually, if I were him I'd write a couple of books criticising everything about UK football, especially all the referees, and retire on the proceeds, spending the rest of my life lying in a hammock made of pure silk and eating pasties on a small beach on the Hawaiian island of Maui. But that's me.)

Speculation is rife partly because Harry is staying quiet about the whole thing, and neither he nor Rupert have publicly stated that they would like Harry to remain manager. Of course, after Harry left last year, Mandaric bad-mouthed Harry in a big, big way, but that doesn't seem to matter now. The situation seems to be this: the Pompey scenario has simply opened the lid on the deep troubles within Saints right now. Even if Harry doesn't go back down the M27, we now know that there is a big gap between Harry and Rupert, therefore probably between Harry and Clive Woodward, therefore probably between Harry's gang (Kevin Bond, Dave Bassett, Denis Rofe) and Rupert's gang (Woodward, a few of the directors and the recently-departed Simon Clifford). Harry's contract runs out at the end of the season, he hasn't been offered a new one, and he doesn't seem to want one anyway. Harry would be happiest with a directorship down at AFC Bournemouth, and it seems that is how he'll end his footballing days.

So whether or not he ends up at Pompey over the next few days, it seems his days at Saints are numbered anyway, probably with quite a small number. Old-school east-end Harry doesn't fit with Rupert, Clive, the PLC and their new football, we've known that for a while, but now it's coming to the surface and one way or another, it seems that something's up down at St Mary's, and it's quickly coming to a head.

Maybe we are just looking for a story in a boring season, but hey, guess what? The Sheffield Today sports section today reports Warnock is about to turn Pompey down. Since I began this blog, Harry has come in further with the bookies to 7/2 on to be the new Pompey boss.

Something's afoot.

Edit: Within two minutes of posting, Harry's odds shorten to 6/1 on.

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