Currently there appears to be a majority of posters who would sack the manager. Not too many are constructive in naming and justifying a realistic alternative, but that’s not my point.
What I would like to ask is this. If TW had existed from 1980, what might the posters’ reactions have been from about January 1983, 18 months into HK’s first spell with us?
In his first season we finished 8th, scoring 56 goals and conceding 3 or more on 9 occasions.
The remainder of his second season, like that which had gone before, was pretty dire. It was difficult to see any plan or any reason to hope for success, although we did score 66 and conceded 3+ just 5 times. We were to finish 7th.
Disgruntlement was rife. We reached a point where the remainder of the 13,000 fans present at the end of the Coventry home game booed the team off after a 1-0 win (Sharp, pen). The cushions that you used to be able to hire in the stands were hurled in their hundreds onto the pitch.
The following season saw a few more personnel changes but we were still a long way from the team that everyone recalls as our finest of that era both in players and in style/effectiveness.
Things went downhill and folklore suggests that the lack of an equaliser at Oxford in the league-cup game on an awful night would have seen HK in a taxi. What a mistake that would have been eh?
We picked up from there. Older heads were added, younger ones became more savvy, a fighting spirit developed. We finished 7th again but we scored just 44 goals in a 42 game season, conceding 42. But we won the cup.
On the way to Wembley we crushed such giants as Stoke, Gillingham after two goalless draws, Shrewsbury, Notts County and Southampton.
The start of the 84-85 season didn’t start well. 1-4 defeat at home to Spurs, 1-2 away to West Brom. We didn’t really get going until October, part-into HK’s fourth season with us. During that time we scraped past University College Dublin in the ECWC 1-0, a great stop from Neville preventing their equaliser at Goodison to prevent us going out.
Imagine this as a post on TW at that time;
Owen Goal: "That’s it, that’s enough!! We’ve had 3 years of this clown and he’s taking us nowhere. There’s no shape, no plan and the players are clueless. He bought two crocks in Gray and Reid and cast-offs from Stoke, Sunderland and that lot across the park. If Carter can’t see that it’s time to get Bobby Robson here and give him real money to spend then he should go as well. If we can be happy with a cup win against a poor Watford side then we are too easily satisfied!!"
I suspect that for most of the period I described few if any would have predicted what was to come and most TW threads would have had a similar “balance” to what we see today. Indeed, part of the magic of the 3 years of success that followed was the unexpected nature of it.
There is anger and frustration amongst the posts here much of the time. Perhaps people were less passionate then, though I don’t think so, the letters column in the pink Echo certainly contained some critical stuff. The difference may well be that expectations are much higher, but I don’t know why that should be so when compared to 30-odd years ago, and people want instant solutions.
Roberto Martinez was given an initial contract for 3 years. It was extended because the board felt they needed to secure his services. He has brought in and brought on a dozen players who others might not, he has built a squad that is worth £250m at least. I have been inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt for that reason alone, although his team selection for last Saturday and his failure to replace Aaron Lennon with someone to bottle up the left flank had me speechless and sure it was time to say goodbye.
I’ve taken a bit of time to reflect though; he will certainly not turn us into relegation candidates and without that risk I’m inclined to wait and see. He at least deserves the next 10-12 games to make his case.
I would suggest to all, although it would probably mean some pretty thinly populated threads for the rest of the season, that we give it a rest; he's not going anywhere until May at the earliest. Use your energy to get behind the team.
If we do feel the need to post how about focussing on players we could buy to move forward next season?