After just over a year in charge following his appointment back in October 2014, this week has seen the club relinquish Kit Symons duties as first-team manager and once again we find ourselves managerless and seeking an appointment that offers the club a chance to push for promotion to the Premier League.
Feelings towards Symons had become rather fraught over the past few months with many fans having been calling for a change of the guard for some time. While I was always of the belief that the appointment of Symons in the first place was never one made with view to promotion, I think it is important that we as fans take time to thank Kit for the work he has undertaken over the past 12 months and the fact that we are now, as a club, a lot more of an attractive proposition for many managers than we had been under Magath.
There were certainly many instances where Symons lack of experience had been a major factor in failing to achieve results during his tenure although to focus on those would perhaps detract from the many positives the Welshman achieved during his time. I have no doubts that certain players had reached a stage where the lack of an experienced leader had become a problem but at the same time the relationships Symons had with both new players and the younger generation coming through only served to improve what was a poisonous atmosphere inherited this time last year.
A host of impressive summer acquisitions including Cairney, Ream, Stearman, Husband and Fredericks have all contributed to an improvement of squad balance, both in terms of ability and age group. If anything the quality and depth now available to any given incoming manager may well have been the very reason that most interpreted 12th place and eight points off the play-offs as an under-achievement at this stage of the season.
Initially I had anticipated that a change of manager around this period of the season would have allowed the right candidate to come in and take a talented young squad to the next level following a period of relative stability under Symons, although given the decision appears to have been made with no natural replacement having been identified, this is a concern.
Symons was never going to be a quick-fix solution but equally it seems a fruitless task in appointing a new man who at best will be focused on gaining promotion with no sense of longevity. Names such as Pearson, Lambert, Sherwood and co are all more experienced hires than Kit, but with the potential in the squad we need to be looking at someone more long-term, a philosophy that doesn’t end in promotion but instead something that would allow us as a club to solidify and grow. While I don’t doubt that promotion under Symons would have been a longer time coming, as a club we had a chance to develop a better candidate than we could attract which is still something we must keep in mind when assessing new managers.
My gut feeling tells me that Nigel Pearson is the safe option, although perhaps the likes of Laudrup, Moyes, Di Matteo and Brendan Rogers – a long shot – may see the opportunity to implement a philosophy without the pressure of immediate Premier League Football as the perfect chance to get back to management at an early stage.
Here’s to the next step ! COYW !