News round-up – Smith departs

I thought he’d make the week, but in the end he didn’t. The timing makes sense, we should win tomorrow and even if we don’t, then it doesn’t make a lot of difference and it’s hardly going to be the new man’s fault.

For weeks we’ve been waiting for the black smoke to billow from the Quadrangle; the inevitable announcement of Smith’s departure. He promised promotion and didn’t provide it, he promised to love us, but grumbled, mumbled and shuffled around the place. If we’d been winning, he’d have been viewed as a loveable grandfather, when we didn’t the knives came out.

There are a lot of yokels dancing around with pitchforks and flaming torches celebrating his demise. But hopefully in the writing of history, the last few months will be scrubbed and the Smith legacy will remain largely unblemished.

The messianic return against Peterborough was an adrenalin shot just when it was needed. There’s no doubt it was good for business. Even now, without his presence, there would be considerably fewer people coming through the turnstiles every week.

However, on the pitch there was something not quite right about his return. Nick Merry’s blind faith in Smith overlooked one thing; even a good manager is mostly good most of the time. There are too many factors outside his control to replicate a successful formula over and over. It would have been some sort of miracle to see him conjure up the success of the 80’s. Which means, the chances of it all ending well were slim at best.

Such is the life of the football manager – who can lose a star striker and see his career evaporate before him – that wizened old managers like Smith appear so belligerent. Most of the time they will ultimately fail. They’ve got to believe in their own abilities because they know results don’t always reflect effort.

Although the press statements suggest he’s moving upstairs. Reading between the lines, it sounds like he’s gone. His contribution shouldn’t be underestimated, but its time to move on. Over to you Darren, let’s see what you can do.

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Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

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