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Setting Sons

There are several unwritten laws in football.

One is that when a team sacks a manager after a long run of poor results, suddenly, from somewhere the skill and guile are found to win a game. This seems to be for two possible reasons 1) The players didn’t like the old manager or his methods and want to prove a point or 2) They respected and liked the old manager and want to prove a point.

The bounce rarely lasts although to be fair that depends 1)To what extent the outgoing manager was culpable and 2) Whether the man they bring in is better at the job than the man he replaces and most importantly 3) What resources and budget he has available

As I reflect on my boyhood and young adulthood I can recall Celtic winning the European Cup (forerunner of the champions league)and Rangers winning the Cup Winners’ Cup (one of the forerunners to the UEFA cup).

I can recall Scotland beating the world champions on their own ground and qualifying for five world cups in a row.

I can remember seeing my wee club Dumbarton in the old Scottish First division and then the Premier League. I have seen them being rather unfortunate in two cup semi finals and taking points from every senior team (at that time) in the game (the exception was Aberdeen).

These days are gone. The very idea that Glasgow will once again produce a European champions team comprised of players born within 30 miles of each other is fanciful in the extreme. Or that another starting eleven selected on not just football ability but also their religious denomination would also win a European trophy? A crazy notion.

Scotland may never compete in another world cup or European championship in my lifetime.

As for the Sons then they currently lie in 22nd place in Scottish football. Bottom of the first division with not a win to their name this season. They are a part time team from a small town trying to compete in a league largely made up of full time teams from towns with double and upwards of a population and up to six times the number of people paying through the turnstile to watch them.

One of those unwritten laws I mentioned came into play yesterday. Manager Alan Adamson is a guy who two years ago did a sterling job in helping to keep the club in the second division when a return to the third looked likely. Last season he turned around a dismal start to somehow get the club into the first division play offs and win them.

Yesterday he was sacked.

It would be rare indeed if not rather inexplicable if a football manager at any level after seven defeats and two draws were to remain in his post. The unwritten law that it’s the manager’s fault comes into play.

However Dumbarton FC will have to be careful because there is a rather more obscure unwritten law in Scottish football and it is that any small part time club who has the audacity or temerity to reach the first division does so at its peril.

Clyde, Stranraer, Alloa Athletic, Cowdenbeath and Stirling Albion have all found themselves in the third division in jig time after vain attempts to compete with the big boys in recent years. Going back a bit it happened the last time the Sons tried to compete at this level too.

I’ve supported my wee team for 42 years and yesterday marks the 22nd change of manager during that time. Four guys account for 18 years between them (two of those with two stints each). That means that of the remaining 17 incumbents, their average tenure in the post has been shorter than seventeen months.

That average has been pretty much maintained since 2000 when the club moved to its new stadium. Eight managers have been in the job in that time which has seen three promotions and two relegations.

I don’t know what the long term answer is for a club like Dumbarton. Of course when they achieve promotion on merit they can hardly turn it down. However to stay in the first division on any long term basis is a task that looks sadly beyond them and their resources.

In the economics of the modern age, the days when the corner shop could compete with the supermarket or the retail park, are gone….and gone forever.

I don’t envy the new man in the job his task.

It looks like an impossible one.

But no doubt there’ll be a willing fall guy willing to give up seventeen months and his reputation in the attempt.


2 Responses

  1. You could do worse than Jim McIntyre.

    Don’t know if he’d fancy it though

  2. Just be thankful you’re no a Dundee supporter.

    Achone! Achone!

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