Agnew’s Angle: Come Back?

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

Come back, with me colour TV and my CD collection of Bob Marley.

Well perhaps not quite like that, writes David Agnew. I’m not sure Pato Banton had the return of The Bearded Wonder when he penned that immortal line back in the mid-90s. I, however, have gone through the ringer with respect to the possible return of Danny and Nicky Cowley following the sudden departure of Mark Kennedy on Wednesday last. I have to say I nearly veered off the road, when little Agnew told me of his departure. I was stunned, as was my ABS.

Yes, our play has veered between being a bag of rusty old spanners, to a sublime different gravy style of football. Yes, unlike our dear editor, I was shocked. Perhaps as shocked as when Adric died at the end of the excellent Doctor Who adventure, Earthshock. Yes, I was stunned. Of course, Adric died saving the Doctor and the Earth from the dreaded Cybermen. Mark Kennedy departed the club for “reasons outside of football.” Almost like a Jonathan Powell and Michael Grade decision to rid us of Colin Baker, in the title role of The Doctor, as he had taken the role as far as he could. Now, not for one moment, am I comparing Clive and Liam as the Machiavellian rulers of the mid-1980s BBC.

Credit Graham Burrell

On the contrary, having met many members of the board many, many times they are indeed the opposite. The board at the club builds increasing stability for the club and the fans. They are very pro supporters groups and work in great partnership with the Red Imps Community Trust. Yes, there have been changes to the operating models over the years, but these have been for the better. We’ve seen a much needed increase in commercial partnerships, a strong academy to ensure a next generation of players. We have seen the excellent fan zone established and perhaps most importantly a guarantee of water to wash your pinkies at half-time. The board cares about you and they want to ensure that your money is invested as well as it can be, just like their own money is.

Sadly, this means that when someone in the starring role of Head Coach or Manager isn’t able to fulfil expectations, whatever they may be, then conversations need to be had. If the said issues don’t improve  and get worse, then that person to whom this has been entrusted to has to go. Unfortunately, this happens in every industry. I do feel for Mark Kennedy, as he is a nice bloke. I felt that perhaps at times he appeared out of his depth and lost. I also saw a man under incredible pressure to deliver, as can be evidenced in his snappiness in recent interviews. The snappiness was evident as early as after the drab Cambridge game, which was the most awful thing I had watched, since Doctor Who The Time and The Rani, back in 1987. Our esteemed editor was preparing for his first ever live podcast, when Mark Kennedy had reason to mark his card, over very balanced comments he made about the game. You can hear the full story on the Stacey West Podcast. That, to me, doesn’t seem a very good way to operate with your media partners. As I said above, it is a shame for Mark Kennedy, as I think with more experience at a lower level, he could establish himself as a good manager. Similarities with Keith Alexander in his first spell with the club, could apply to him, as he gains more first team coaching experience.

So, we are left with the question. Who now? Well, for me it has to be – and I say this through gritted teeth, The Cowleys.

I say gritted teeth, as I was not a fan of them in the last few months of their stewardship. I thought that Danny had become a touch like Chris Evans in his self-destructive, God complex, Radio One days. I felt he thought that the club and fans thought that we could not do without him and that he should be able to make demands that the club had to meet. I think that if we had conceded to those demands, we would have not survived through the COVID period and beyond. Do I blame Danny for demanding a bigger budget and not wanting to appear to consolidate. No, I don’t. Mainly because he was on a roll and so were we. It just didn’t match where we were at the time. So, we parted company, admittedly after too much ‘shall we, shan’t we?’ I think the club were right to let him go – at that time.

I must say, in addition to this, I was very upset as their departing, with the shenanigans surrounding it, ruined one of my best friend’s birthday. The thing is, Danny also knew it was her birthday too.

I didn’t ever imagine a way back for Danny and Nicky. I thought that the bridges had been burnt. A sad divorce, after so many happy and memorable times ending in a “it’s not you, it’s me” scenario.

Yet, after hearing about rumours of discord. Of players visibly barracking one another on the pitch, in not one but two games. We have such a young, promising squad who have massive potential. We need, as a club, someone to hit the ground running. A coaching team that understands the fans, the set-up and the DNA of the club and who have an excellent record with the development of players. This, for me means it is time to make that call and re-build those bridges. Four years have passed. Four long years. Danny and Nicky will have learnt so much. They have not experienced great successes, since they left us. This will have made them better coaches, as you often learn far more when you’re not successful, then when you are. It should be done and I urge our Clive to get on the phone and get them back in.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

A few people have compared this possible return as like having your ex-partner back. No, for me it is different. Look, before now, no actor has returned to play another version of The Doctor in Doctor Who. Yet, Russell T Davies, to whom I consider the Doctor Who equivalent to Clive Nates, has said “Sod this” and has cast David Tennant to play the 14th Doctor. OK, it may be for a limited time, but he has gone back to a trusted, popular and loved pair of hands, in order to go forwards again. Looking at the trailers, I am beyond excited for the 60th Anniversary stories. So, if Russell T Davies can do it, then so can Clive Nates.

So, could we have a “Return of The Cowleys”? Yes, they should be brought back. It is the right time!