Friday, 13 November 2009

And Now The End Is Near

Strange how football works sometimes. A week ago our team was preparing for the Hartlepool game by using Leeds United's training facilities, and a couple of days later we are drawn to play Leeds. On that Saturday a handful of us sat on a train to and from the Hartlepool amongst a sea of blue and white Posh supporter, little knowing that just over a week later they would have prised away our Manager.

It would be fair to say that Mark's appointment by Imraan was greeted with almost universal apathy by us Poppies. "Isn't he the bloke who got Tamworth relegated?" "Wasn't he the little guy who played for Hinckley against us?" Those were two of the more charitable reactions to his appointment. He was hardly the "top" candidate we'd been promised. With the news that this new manager would also have a lower budget than Maison had the previous season, expectations weren't high.

Several months later, Mark's team had pissed the Blue Square North by the small amount of 17 points. Another year on and we were trading blows with Fulham in the 4th round proper of the FA Cup. Even more amazingly, he had managed to coax all-action displays from Andre Boucard! OK, so maybe Mark had something!

Not that Mark's performance in the Poppies hot seat was perfect. Too often he seemed happy to set out his team to stifle the opposition, rather than play them. That said, such games, and the wins they often generated have helped go someway to bolstering his win ratio, as well as his profile. He also managed to sign the odd duff player, and for some reason Jason Lee is the one that springs most readily to mind!

But what is strongly in Mark's favour is that if one of his players wasn't up to it they were out of the team and the club with almost indecent haste. It didn't take him long of looking at the duff keepers at the start of his reign to show them the door and usher Lee Harper in. Compare his record with Maison's nightmarishly misplaced faith in players like Marcel McKee!

So called problem players have also responded to his methods. Moses is the most obvious example, effectively erasing the memory of recently departed fan favourite Gareth Seddon, almost overnight.

What will Mark take to Peterborough (other than Big X!). Certainly a sterner edge defensively. Also a hunger for the fight. He will get the players playing for him and each other. He knows this is a big opportunity, and I'm sure he will do all he can to make a success of it.

Of more interest to everyone here though is what about us? Who next for the Poppies hot seat? Nicky Eaden? Kevin Keegan? I guess we will find out soon enough. But in the meantime, the best of luck Mark, and thanks for your efforts. Not many Managers get to leave Rockingham Road with their reputations intact, let alone greatly enhanced, but you certainly have.

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