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Thursday, 25 November 2010

Tipping point reached?

There comes a time in the affairs of struggling football clubs that fans can, in the fullness of time, look back at and say, "There. That was the point when I knew things had to change, and change quickly." It's the tipping point, the time when fans stop being patient and giving the benefit of the doubt; the time the boos start and the abuse rains down from the stands to the pitch and the dugout, and, if there's any justice, to the posh seats in the Main Stand where the Board sits.

Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat at Bournemouth may just have been the tipping point in Terry Skiverton's reign as manager of Yeovil Town FC. It's not so much the loss that people have found hard to take, after all Bournemouth are way up there in the league table and have only dropped 4 points at home all season - no-one with any sense seriously expected the Glovers to get much if anything from the game. No, it's the manner of the loss that's the problem. The same old problems on view, the powder-puff attack, the meaningless long-balls, and most damning of all, the cluelessness in defence. Add to that the dissent shown when Adam Virgo was substituted and Sam Williams angry reaction to the Glovers supporters jeering of him when he was hauled off; it all adds up to the feeling that events are conspiring to undermine the manager and his staff. Just at the time he needs a bit of luck to go his way, he's getting none.

Having said, he's not helping himself. In my last blog I asked why, when it's patently obvious that the defence is the weak link in the team, did Skivo bring in another striker on loan (Adam Phillip)? To compound that why did he then add another attacking player, winger Ivan Sproule, on a month's loan from Bristol City? Especially when, according to City boss Keith Millen, Sproule's objective was to get match-fit in order to challenge for a place in City's first team in the new year. If he's not match-fit, why the hell is he playing for us? Now, at last, the gaffer's talking about bringing a defender in (and as I write it's been announced that 18-year-old Leicester defender Tom Parkes has signed on a month's loan), but he's beginning to resemble the little boy sticking his finger into holes in the dyke while the water is lapping up to his chin and rising steadily.

The last 7 league games tell their own story: Won 0, drawn 1, lost 6, goals for 9, goals against 17. We are now 23rd in the league, 6 points away from safety and with the worst goal difference in the division. We now require play-off attaining form to guarantee League One football next season. The bookies make us 10/11 on to be relegated at the end of the season, and it's not often at this stage of the season that the bookies are wrong. We have a huge mountain to climb.

And what is the Board doing, while all around them Rome burns? Fiddling, obviously! Not content with the ludicrous decision to increase ticket prices by £1 all round in January, chairman John Fry has today decided to insult supporters intelligence further by announcing an announcement that there may be an announcement concerning improved facilities at the club in a few weeks time; that is, there may be an announcement in a few weeks time, not miraculously improved facilities, obviously. It seems the Board have been talking to the South Somerset District Council amongst others, which of course brings the long-delayed Sportzone project to mind, though maybe I'm guilty of making 2+2 equal 5 there. Talks are evidently on-going with interested parties, including the Council, with Fry saying: "At this stage I am optimistic of a positive outcome which it is anticipated will provide economic benefits to the town and the club." And, of course those economic benefits will also go to the main shareholders in Yeovil Town Holdings Ltd, the company that now owns the land surrounding Huish Park on which any development will take place. And the main 2 shareholders? Club chairman John Fry and club owner Norman Hayward. Let's watch this space, though it's got to be said we've had this kind of talk from Fry many times in the past and nothing has ever come of it.

Back to Skivo and I suppose it's time I got off the fence. Should he stay or should he go? I'm reluctantly coming round to the view that time is running out for him to turn things around. I am naturally reluctant to call for a manager's head even at the worst of times as I strongly believe that continuity is the best policy nine times out of ten; I'm also reluctant to see change for changes sake simply because all too often you're better off with the devil you know. However there does come a time when one cannot ignore the signs of failure all around and indeed it becomes unfair to everyone - not least the man himself - to keep an obviously out-of-his-depth incumbent in a job. Not that I think we're quite at that stage yet, but the signs aren't good. For what it's worth I would give Skivo the next month to find a winning formula. By January he'll have been in the job a month shy of 2 years. That's long enough to make his mark and show he's got what it takes to turn things around. The ball's in his court.

In the meantime we all get a break from football league action this weekend with a trip to Hartlepool in the 2nd round of the FA Cup, weather permitting. The bookies make the home side evens favourites, the draw is priced at 12/5 and a Glovers win at 27/10. My fiver, more in hope than expectation and proving once and for all the old adage about a fool and his money, is going on the draw. The running total tells you all you need to know about what kind of season we've had up 'til now: -£30.25p. Perhaps the best outcome of all this weekend would be for the game to be postponed. At least that way we would definitely be in the hat for the 3rd round draw!

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