Friday, 13 February 2015

Unbuckled

FOOTBALL is a results business, and one win in 12 league games in charge of Cheltenham Town was reason enough for Paul Buckle’s reign to be cut short.
But it goes deeper than that. This was a man who managed to make himself deeply unpopular both within and outside the club in a very short space of time.
On Tuesday night at Southend, the hardcore 50 who headed to Essex were chanting before the kick-off of their desire to see him leave the club.
And his body language during the game at Roots Hall and post-match comments were not those of a man supposedly determined to put up a fight to keep the Robins in the Football League.
Buckle and assistant Rob Edwards spent the whole game in the dugout, not once coming to the side of the pitch to offer encouragement to the players, as if resigned to another limp defeat.
Then on the final whistle, he vanished quickly, leaving goalkeeping coach Steve Book to guide the players over to acknowledge the travelling fans.
Post match, Southend were hailed as a good side, as if we should be accepting of a 2-0 defeat against a side in the top seven.
None of this helped his connectivity with the fans, many of whom saw him as a poor appointment from the start, and practically all of whom now celebrate his departure.
He was parachuted in from America after two years out of the game with ridiculous haste after the exit of Mark Yates in November.
As the results failed to pick up,  Buckle seemed reluctant to take on any responsibility, preferring to blame his predecessor for ‘leaving him with a poor squad’ and ‘spending all of the budget’.
It was the players who took all the blame. Especially the ones he was left with, and he shipped eight of them out in an effort to revamp his squad.
The team had won two games in the last 12 when he took over – they needed lifting, motiviating and instilling with belief.
Instead, they were told they were not good enough, a poor squad with a losing mentality – so it is little wonder that they went out for every game with no confidence, as their manager obviously had no confidence in them.
Had he stayed, there was a sad inevitability to Cheltenham Town’s relegation to the Conference.
The board must take responsibility for a poor, hasty appointment, and a failure to invite applications for the role.
But it’s time to draw a line in the sand. Recriminations and the blame game can wait.
Russell Milton, a Cheltenham Town man through and through, has been put in charge and now is the time for unity.
Board, management, players and fans need to pull together, We have to put this sorry episode behind us, as we have a football club to keep up.
So, if you aren’t doing anything on Saturday at 3pm, get down to Whaddon Road and shout your lungs off for Russell Milton and the Robins.

Your club needs you.