Goodbye, City’s rose. You were never likely to grow in our hearts. Your managerial record was patchy, I’m told you were a horrible little shit as a player, and your near-religious belief that 3-5-2 was our best formation was infuriating.
Did he deserve to get the sack? (Come on, we’re all adults, we all know what ‘by mutual consent’ means.) Probably. It’s nearly December, we’ve won 4 league games, and we’ve spent most of the season in the relegation zone. The hope that bringing in a defensive-minded coach would strengthen us at the back has proved spectacularly unfounded – considering that we’re effectively playing 5 at the back a lot of the time, we’re ridiculously easy to score against. He didn’t help himself with his comments before the Port Vale game. “It’s so easy to be negative” – yes, Keith, when we’re bottom of the entire league and things have been terrible for years, it’s nigh on impossible to be positive. Did he think scolding the fans would impress his boss? I still really like Dino Maamria for his response at the famous Royton CC fans’ forum, when someone shouted, “YOU KNOW FUCK ALL!” at Barry Owen: “First of all, I love your passion.” Read the room, Keith. His comments after what proved to be his final game at Northampton weren’t much better. “I’ve got a bad habit of telling players the truth and when I say a bad habit, some players don’t like it….” Oh God, not the ‘I tell it like it is and people don’t like it’ line. You just sound like a pub bore, mate. Whether he signed these players or not, they were hardly likely to want to go out and pull their tripe out for him when he said stuff like this. In fairness, Suzanne Geldard spoke highly of him in the Oldham Times, saying he was always polite and never shirked a question.
Will sacking Keith Curle turn our season around? I doubt it. We all know what a difficult position he was in. The Bollock Brothers are still at the helm, the club is still under an embargo, and experience says we’re hardly likely to bring in the players that we need in January. It wasn’t Curle’s fault that Leutwiler and McGahey weren’t available at the start of the season (McGahey didn’t make his debut until September 25th) because someone didn’t read the terms of the EFL loan agreement. The revolving door in terms of staff turnover – both head coaches and otherwise – says that Curle wasn’t the main problem.
The timing is a bit strange. The Port Vale match was my first visit to Boundary Park in over two years, as it was for many people supporting the ‘Pack the Park’ demonstration. I would have loved being back there whatever the result – I’ve really missed having that familiar routine on a Saturday, of having the day revolve around the football and meeting your mates. The way the match turned out was, obviously, a massive bonus. I took the piss on Twitter when Curle threw Piergianni up front, but it turned out to be a tactical masterstroke. Port Vale couldn’t cope with us playing a big nuisance up front – who’d have thought? – and the team that were second in this godawful division fell to bits, culminating in a quite frankly hilarious own goal in injury time to win us three points against all expectations. Maybe Curle was finally starting to see what changes needed to be made. I really thought it would buy him more time than it did. It turns out the bumper crowd just helped to pay off his contract.
Selim Benachour has taken over in the interim, and who knows, maybe he’ll do a great job. The youth team’s exploits in the FA Youth Cup have been a rare ray of sunshine in this murky season, and the last youth team coach to step up to the first team gave us some great memories. I’m keeping my expectations lower than a snake’s arse, though. Good luck to whoever jumps on the Oldham Athletic head coach merry-go round next (or the ‘around about’, as Anthony Gerrard put it in a characteristically eloquent pitch for the job on Twitter). They’ll need it. I hear John Sheridan is available……