If you can cast your mind back almost 10 months to the beginning of Scunthorpe’s latest campaign, would I be forgiven for admitting I was quietly confident that it would be an immediate return to the third tier? No? Anybody?
As I now look back, I can safely admit how wrong I was. The worst feeling of it all, was the last time we witnessed the Iron kick a football (or attempt to) was a woeful 2-0 home defeat to local rivals Grimsby Town. But we won’t rip off that slightly healed band-aid just yet.
With 11 players leaving the club after details were announced regarding this season’s retained list, what better place to start this season’s debrief than with a couple of those in particular.
Andy Butler was one that really ignited a spark of excitement when he was announced last Summer, mainly due to his exceptional performances in a Doncaster side that were eventually knocked out of the League One play-offs by eventual winners Charlton Athletic. Butler never really looked to be the player we once knew at Glanford Park, even at League Two level. The game against Northampton away in particular stands out as Butler and Harrison McGahey were run ragged all evening and embarrassed by a fairly average side.
Yann Songo’o, a player who I remember as a gritty hard hitting ball winning midfielder from his time at Plymouth, suffered relentlessly with injuries across the season. I feel that if the Iron had someone in the middle of the park with a bit more of an attacking presence Yann would have fulfilled a similar role and tidied up the other side of midfield.
Rory McArdle is an interesting one as he endured an utterly terrible season last year and looked extremely out of his depth as we slid into the relegation places and eventually dropped out of the division with a whimper. But this campaign he had been better and popped up with some vital goals which he had been known for when he Captained that very sturdy defence of Bradford City some seasons ago. He and Harrison McGahey never really formed a true partnership again through injuries and through a chopping and changing of the system.
We also cannot forget amidst all the madness, the Iron are currently managerless, and Peter Swann will again be tasked with finding a suitable candidate to steer the ship into the 20/21 season, whenever that may be.
If I look at the situation based on what we know regarding the club, I see it as a no-brainer that Russ Wilcox will be the Iron’s manager heading into next season and here’s why.
The Wilcox Saga
The club are seemingly short on funds, revenue streams and in my opinion, ideas. Chairman Peter Swann has continuously called on the EFL to aid lower league clubs from falling deeper and deeper into dark situations regarding their finances and it comes as no surprise that the Iron are one of those clubs.
Added to the fact that nobody currently knows if and when the new season will begin, I cannot see Scunthorpe splashing cash and promising funds to a brand new manager in the next few months. Uncertainty is a key word here.
Wilcox hasn’t done a bad job, but then again we know what we are going to get with Russ’ football. It’s slow, it’s defensively minded and in all honesty, it’s pretty crap to watch.
Hurst was beginning to show glimpses of what his side was capable of before his dismissal in late January as players such as Kevin van Veen, Alex Gillead and Abo Eisa all began to pull their proverbial weight within the starting eleven. A highlight for myself was the impressive afternoon in Gloucestershire as the Iron cleverly dismissed then high flying Forest Green.
A strong to do list
An interesting development as far as the squad goes will include that of ex Wigan wide man Ryan Colclough as I believe he could be instrumental in the Iron’s fortunes next season in League Two. Signed as a replaced for Duane Holmes, we have never really seen the best of Mr Colclough, as he like most, has suffered unfortunate lengthy spells on the side-lines.
Add that to the electric form of Abo Eisa at times this year, the 25 year old will hope for a strong pre-season to aid his claims for involvement much more in the 20/21 season.
An area which must be resolved quickly and cleverly furthermore is that of the dilemma we have between the sticks. Ever since the departure of Matt Gilks, the Iron have never had a solid number one and this was no more evident than the constant flickering between Jake Eastwood and Rory Watson last season.
Rory has remained at the club but has he really done enough to stake a solid enough claim to be the number one keeper at the club moving forward? I’m not so sure personally…
As the dust begins to settle, it seems now more than ever that a divide has been created between players, fans and supporters that I have not felt for many seasons supporting and following the Iron.
It feels like a prolonged and painful hangover from the Grimsby defeat. It cut deeper to see 11 men walk around the pitch and simply not care in a derby. It hurt.
The summer is key. Not only must things return slowly and safely, but the Iron must get things right off the field as well as on it. The right players must add to the quality I believe we do have within our current ranks, but it would also be nice to feel involved and enthralled by Scunthorpe United once again. More fans are slipping away and it’s not just because of the shoddy football we have to endure.
I love the club and believe in the new youthful direction we are heading into, but it must be done correctly or else who knows where we may end up.
As for now, I guess time will tell, and all of us will wait to see what happens next in the ongoing saga that is the club we endeavour to watch every Saturday afternoon…