Kent-based Scunthorpe fan Ryan West reflects on the sacking of Graham Alexander and hopes a back to basics approach and change in defensive personnel will see an upturn in fortunes ahead of the Good Friday encounter with Oxford United.
On Saturday 24th March at 15:45pm as the Glanford Park faithful jeered a lacklustre first half performance against relegation threatened Rochdale, Peter Swann was sharpening his axe. A second half leveller from Ivan Toney was not enough to save Graham Alexander and his fate was sealed.
By 5pm the mood on social media was toxic; the same as the previous weekend following a second half collapse to Shrewsbury Town. In reality, it had been an all too familiar tale since the Iron kicked off 2018 with a scrappy win against a flaccid Bury FC.
By 9pm, after studying the League 1 table like a hawk and establishing we had been let off the hook with other results, the news of Graham Alexander’s departure was filtering through on social media.
The people who follow me on Twitter will know I have defended the manager throughout the dire run since the turn of the year, but Alexander had turned into marmite. I saw no middle ground with fans, you were either Alexander In! or Alexander Out!
I’m sure the majority would agree, whatever their view, that it’s certainly a bold call from the chairman who reiterated to fans (and outsiders) questioning his decision that his sights are still set on promotion this season.
Jeff Stelling called Peter Swann “shameful” when Russ Wilcox was handed his P45, but arguably that proved to be the correct decision. I am sure Mr Stelling would take the Swann at his beloved Hartlepool United right now despite his harshness.
There is no doubting Swann. He is a proactive and ruthless decision maker. A successful businessman and chairman, who has backed us financially and taken us from heading into League Two mediocrity to challenging at the top end of League One for a third year in a row.
The chairman was diligent on Radio Humberside this week as he justified sacking a club legend with a near 50% win ratio. This team finished 3rd last season and, despite a dire run of form, we were well placed for another crack at the lottery of the playoffs.
Saturday’s news was the outcome a lot of fans were crying out for, but did not expect at this late stage in the season. So, what now?
Whether it is the Daws/Dawson combination that laid foundations for Graham Alexander’s arrival in March 2016 or a new manager with an outside perspective – I’m sure 100% of Scunthorpe United fans can agree on the following:
1. We need to get back to basics.
2. We are much stronger & entertaining when we play with an offensive set up.
I’m positive, despite Peter Swann’s coy demeanour when asked about the identity of Scunthorpe United’s future manager, he will have a strong idea who he wants.
Whoever the new Scunthorpe United management team will be, they need to play to our strengths. We need go with the fundamentals that gave us balance & yet exciting football to watch in parts this season.
I was sad to see Graham Alexander leave but it doesn’t mean I agreed with 100% of his decision making.
Swann suggested that he did not agree with the irate fans citing the lack of replacements for Paddy Madden and Kevin Van Veen was costing Scunthorpe, instead pointing to defensive frailties. Ultimately, perhaps both may have contributed to Alexander’s downfall.
The problems defensively are proving fatal, conceding soft goals at key times in matches- something I feel is unacceptable given the quality of the defenders that Alexander had at his disposal.
The team news for the lunch time kick off on Sky Sports against Oxford United will make interesting reading. As we can only speculate and anticipate the likely lineup, the majority of fans will be calling for the same personnel to start and a return to the side for our two best full backs.
I fully expect Conor Townsend and Jordan Clarke to start in full back positions. That will highlight that football tactics can be overthought – where simplicity will yield success for The Iron.
The Iron have seven matches remaining. The fixtures are favourable and despite emotions running high, we all want the same thing, another Wembley success story!
Let’s get behind the boys and see where we are placed on Saturday 5th May at 7.30pm. If we haven’t made the playoffs, we can hopefully laugh together as Grimsby Town travel back from Forest Green Rovers with the knowledge the biggest game in the 2018/2019 calendar for them is a trip to Salford City!
Good luck in the future Grezza!
You can follow Ryan on twitter @RyanWest1990