It was the sad and inevitable conclusion to a needlessly drawn out affair. Brian McDermott’s departure provided the only predictable chapter in a very unnerving period and came with charitable words of conciliation from both sides. The final outcome represented a surprisingly bloodless denouement to a situation that had become increasingly fractious.
Both manager and paymaster had not spoken since the season’s end, instead choosing to communicate through ‘terse’ and ‘defensive’ written correspondence. Don Massimo had even used a television interview to lambast the manager for taking a customary but unauthorised end of season absence. It had all become rather unseemly.
Our erstwhile friend leaves with the respect accorded to a decent man but without the accolades of a successful one. The manner in which he dealt with swathes of boardroom villainy will live long in the memory but so too will the abject performances and tactical confusion we were often forced to bare. Some fans argue that he was the right man at the wrong time and perhaps the concept has a grain of truth. I would suggest that our ascension from the bowels of Division Two to Europe’s top table under the tutelage of Don Revie, proves that winners find a way to win regardless of constraint.
Many would have spent Saturday afternoon contemplating our club’s next move. Much of the speculation was spiced with a continental flavour but the conversation took a disturbing turn for the worse with the news that an obscure non league coach had become the bookies favourite to land the post. I like most had to Google the name of Dave Hockaday and found a man who resembled an ageing Julian Dicks with a painfully underwhelming CV. We were all stung by the absurdity of the development.
Apart from the search for another messiah, the chaos continues to abound within the corridors of power. There’s the threat of mass redundancies, the temporary closure of Thorp Arch and the freezing of assets brought about by a winding up petition served by a former director. A man incidentally now languishing in a Bahraini prison cell accused of embezzlement and money laundering by our former Bahraini overlords. It’s a dramatic tale of the swindler swindling the swindlers.
Don Massimo is a man who often likes to voice an opinion before he has one. He is a shrewd operator and appears to be conducting the type of root and branch enema that we desperately require but his whimsical public musings often give one the impression that he’s making it up as he goes along. It’s a weakness that allows his doubters and our enemies to fuel the flames of fear.
The situation isn’t helped by an action starved media keen to inject controversy into an otherwise sleepy hiatus and of course it is the supporters that suffer. The anti Cellino camp groans with every development regardless of outcome while others balk at an atmosphere of persistent negativity. We are an argumentative breed at the best of times and our number has always been characterised by the constant bickering of estranged factions. The arrival of Massimo Cellino will only serve to accentuate the debate.