I wasn’t going to comment too much on the events of the past 24 hours, but amidst all of the bluster and official statements it seems football has lost a little of its integrity.
First of all, Evans. Leaving is bad enough, but it could almost be forgiven. Peterborough are a bigger club and there’s little loyalty left in the game at the moment. Evans claims to be a Posh fan, one of his less outlandish claims. If you were a football manager in charge of, say Mansfield Town, and you got a whiff Lincoln City were interested, would you go as a fan? I would, in a second.
The claims of being a Posh fan are perhaps a bit twee, but his secondary claims are absolutely absurd. He told media that he resigned from Mansfield to take up an opportunity abroad, one he had on the table for a while. He would have us believe that after two defeats in fifteen games, with a play-off push in mid-swing, he suddenly decided he’d had enough and quit, convincing the ugly sister Raynor to do the same?
Furthermore, on the day he quit to go abroad, rather than chill with the family or make plans to fly away, he rang Barry Fry for free tickets to go and watch Peterborough in action. Rather than convalesce at home and plan the future, he decided to take in a game that would have no relevance on him going forward? I’m sorry, I call bullshit.
Why not just admit what the truth was? Would the penalties be that severe, really? There would be a fee to pay but as we know, Posh aren’t strapped for a few quid even if they’re not bathing in Radford cash. The yarn simply strengthens many fans’ belief that Evans has a penchant for telling porkies.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, within 24 hours David Flitcroft, a man not yet tarnished with a bad reputation, resigns at Swindon and takes over at Mansfield. In a little ‘switcharoo’, Mansfield nick Swindon’s manager just eight months after Swindon tried to nick Mansfield’s. I’d say you couldn’t make it up, but I suppose you could, Evans certainly could.
Swindon reported they’d accepted the resignation of their manager: “Swindon Town Football Club can confirm that it has accepted the resignations of Manager Dave Flitcroft and his Assistant Ben Futcher. We as a Football Club are extremely disappointed at the timing of this with the club currently lying in a Play-Off position, with an automatic promotion spot still a realistic goal.”
Radford saw it a little differently: “Can I say a big thank you to Swindon for the way they conducted themselves in this. I spoke to their chairman and asked permission to speak to David and he allowed me to do that. We agreed terms and it’s been manic since then. We are so close, we wanted the right man in place as quickly as we could – who else? He has beaten us twice this season already. I am so happy to have him on board.” As happy as you would have been to still have Evans?
I’ll be honest, the whole shambolic nature of the situation has astounded me. We have to count ourselves very lucky that we have a manager who connects with the fans and identifies with them on every level. Danny Cowley wouldn’t sidestep a challenge, not one bit. Whilst Evans can be forgiven for stepping up, he can’t be forgiven for the web of intricate stories wound together in the aftermath. As for Flitcroft, what attraction could there possibly be to dump Swindon for Mansfield, other than money? After all, only a couple of days ago his assistant was lauding their achievements, now they’ve jumped ship!
The positive for City is that it destabilises two of our promotion rivals in one go. I personally think Mansfield will be fine, they’ve got a great squad of players that I believe underachieved with Evans at the helm. He’s not a good manager, don’t be fooled by thinking budget size means very little. He scares players, bullies them almost and looks to score advantages on the touchline. Nobody will be sad to see him go and David Flitcroft is a good manager who I feel will push the Stags on.
As for Swindon, you have to feel for them immensely. They’ve got a good set of players too, but moulded and shaped by Flitcroft. Whether they can draft in a new face quick enough is one thing, but whether it is the right face is another. I’ve seen Phil Brown touted for the job along with Craig Bellamy and former Bohemians manager Pat Fenlon. Whoever comes in will need to hit the ground running, or not if we’re to gain any advantage at all.