As this season draws to a close on the back of what has been a somewhat horrendous run of results, the once revered Marcus Law has had his ability and methods questioned of late, but is it deserved? His arrival last summer brought much needed anticipation and served as a perfect tonic as supporters finally began to shake off the hangover of the previous season’s failures. Roll on 10 months however and for some, the tables have quickly turned.
Just a quick check over at tamworthfans.co.uk and there are an abundance of posts criticising Law’s demeanor, tactics and his approach to the media after a defeat, something in stark contrast to the views many held after the first couple of months of the season as Tamworth somewhat unexpectedly found themselves in the the dizzy heights of a play-off spot.
Back then, Marcus was viewed as a bright, young professional and was even being touted for jobs in the Football League as his fresh approach seemed to bring the best out of his ramshackle squad of both young enterprising players and more experienced counterparts and he was of course doing all this on a low budget. There were talks of a three-year plan to push Tamworth towards the Football League which fans bought into and as our excellent run at the start of the season continued to gain momentum, expectations slowly, but dangerously, began to grow on the terraces. But as Tamworth embarked on their illustrious FA Cup adventure, things began to go change.
Since beating King’s Lynn in the 4th Qualifying Round of the World’s oldest competition, Tamworth have only amassed a mere 17 points in the league and although a relegation battle was never really on the cards, the inability to find form has led Tamworth to plummet down the table. So what did go wrong? Why did a squad so full of confidence early in the season become so disjointed? That’s the debate.
Alot of supporters underline Law’s constant tinkering as he attempted to rotate his large squad, with many believing the decision to split the solid, ever-improving partnership of Paul Green and Francino Francis in the centre of defence as a vital ingredient to the club’s slip in form. Others chastise the lack of quality in midfield, blame Law for isolating certain members of his playing squad and some accuse the players of having one eye on the Everton game, while others point towards new faces contunually coming and going through Tamworth’s revolving door of transfer activity since the turn of the year.
It’s also worth mentioning that we’ve had our fair share of bad luck. Injuries have robbed us of seeing the true potential of loan signings Luke Hubbins, Geoge Baldock and Callum Wilson after promising starts, while several poor refereeing decisions have cost us points and undeserved red cards have meant several of our more prominent performers missing games through suspension. Law has also cited a lack of training facilities as having disrupted his plans earlier in the campaign before a deal was struck with Warwick University.
Large or small, maybe some of the above factors did contribute to our recent slump, but with some supporters now believing Tamworth should aim for more than merely staying in the division or even finishing mid-table, Law has possibly become a victim of his own words and good fortune which after the first few months of the campaign raised the expectations amongst the more demanding of the Tamworth support.
Of course it would be nice to aim for better things and no doubt it’s something Marcus and the club would love to achieve, but without serious investment and a declining fanbase instead of one of steady growth, we are always going to struggle to compete with some of larger club’s in a division which is becoming increasingly difficult for the smaller side’s as each season passes. There have also been a few utterances towards Bob Andrews of late which I find very surprising, if not undeserved. As a club we are running prudently and the board deserve praise for not being prepared to risk the future of our club by falling into the red for short term success, which of course isn’t guaranteed. Without needing to mention any names, non-league football and this division especially are becoming a graveyard for clubs who have failed to operate in an efficient manner and to be in the black and still compete in this division despite a lack of funds, the board deserve alot of credit for.
Marcus is a young manager. He’s been around for a few years learning his trade in the lower divisions and has been largely successful, but this has been his first full season managing at this level, of course he is going to make mistakes and I firmly believe he is somebody who will continue to strive to improve and learn from his errors. As others have pointed out, yes he is a very good talker and engaging to listen to and you can’t help but fall for his charms, but he has been honest enough to admit he has made mistakes and that’s the first step to learning from them. A knee-jerk reaction is something the club doesn’t need at the moment and something Marcus, as a novice, certainly doesn’t deserve.
Next season will be a defining year for both Marcus and the club and as supporters, the best thing we can do is trust his judgment and support him and the players as best as we can. We’re not going to get anywhere unless everybody pulls in the same direction, something Marcus himself has stressed in the past. We have a clean slate to work from and if we can bring in the right players and enjoy the odd bit of luck then there’s no reason we can’t be the surprise package of next season. As Southport have proven this year, it can done.
The beauty of football is that nobody knows what next season may bring, but pause for thought and remember Marcus’ aim for year one of his three-year plan: survival. Before a ball was even kicked this season I’m sure the majority of supporters would have taken that, especially with the team not entering the drop zone once all season. Add to that a memorable trip to Goodison Park in the FA Cup and perhaps this season hasn’t been all that bad afterall has it?