A lot of the criticism of Butcher relates to his recent signings and tactics in games – the general stuff for which managers are criticised. No one is suggesting that we should ‘settle’ for being sixth or whatever but at the minute we are in a stable state similar to that achieved once in the last generation, the glorious seasons of 93-95.
We are an established mid-table side that is dangerous in the cup competitions. Of course we should look to improve, but a key question is whether or not that is more likely to be done by bringing in a new man or sticking with Butcher, and his faults, by giving him a long time to improve and develop his side, even if minor set backs occur along the way.
The case for the defence of Butcher immediately points to exhibit ‘A’ – Dundee United Football Club. They have a success hungry chairman who is still willing to dig into his deep pockets at a time when transfer fees and big money wages have all but disappeared. Accordingly he wants United to succeed and he wants them to succeed now. That has led to three (four?) managers being sacked or leaving in the last three years and now it looks like Gordon Chisholm’s time is nearly up after mere months in charge. He took over when McCall got the boot, won a few games (including a cup semi final and at Ibrox) and was given a three-year contract. He was untested as a manager but United had picked up enough to justify giving him the job.
Perhaps significantly, the extended contract offer came in the build up to the cup final. Already though, Eddie’s faith in Chisholm, is being tested to the full. The BBC is carrying yet another article which suggests he might be sacked should United not win on Saturday. This is surely the worst possible way to run a club; on a week to week basis. If Chisholm is the man, as Eddie thought he was five months ago, he should be given a proper amount of time to do the job. If he is not, a single win over a relegation threatened team, should not be enough to change that opinion. Thompson does not help anyone by making silly announcements saying that only a top six finish is acceptable – this side only guaranteed SPL football on the last day of last season!
At Motherwell though, the pace seems to go more slowly these days, and that is probably a good thing. Our chairman and owner are where they should be – (usually!) out of sight and keeping a low profile in the media, letting the manager and players get on with their job. Yes, a few changes could be made about their off the field management but that is another issue. The manager was allowed the grace of one bad season (which luckily we were not punished for) and managed to turn us into a good footballing side that achieved modest success. It is not unduly harsh to say that we have slipped a little but we are still moving along nicely and progress can still be made this season. Look at the success Tommy McLean brought us – both great sides he created were gradually built up with a combination of shrewd signings and good kids coming through our own ranks. We Motherwell fans should be grateful that our board (and, in fairness, most supporters) are aware of this. It is something Eddie Thompson might be wise to learn though.