Paul Hart - what to do?
The countless questions the Hart debate raises...
We have all had an opinion on Paul Hart for sometime now, and these opinions can be split - as I am sure they will continue to do so...
As I have said countless times Hart was not the man that I wanted, but he got the job so I backed him, and continue to do so, as I would any manager.
Also, like I have again said countless times, the guy has really grown on me and I cannot thank him enough really for stepping in when no one else would - for me, regardless as to what anyone says he was the only 'realistic' option and was most likely the only person that 'could' have worked to these restraints for so long. Although he was also, quite clearly, the cheap option, right?
The guy has managed to scrounge together a side - a side that is united and plays for him, but will it stay united forever?
How much more will this side take before they crack? Has this started? 'Playing well' yet still losing week after week, well most weeks, has to take its toll in the end, right?
I feel that I 'maybe' saw my first glances of this at Stoke on Sunday...
Literally all the players had their heads down and, for what I remember as being the first time this season, they trudged off with an air of 'resignation' about them and were not anywhere near as interested in showing the fans how they felt, or giving the appreciation to us that they have week-in-week-out - something I have not been able to fault them for, and in a way I am not now as maybe it was because they cared so much? I feel that perhaps, as I say, we have seen the first signs that they are 'giving up' or think that nothing else can be given as things stand...
Do you remove Hart, who has - and hopefully still does have - the players with him? Or is he starting to lose some?
Despite what Hart has done to help keep us afloat, you cannot show any sentimentality in football can you - so will we? Then again do we have no other option?
Then you have the 'who comes in and takes over' question?
For me, this is a VERY simple one to answer. 'If' Hart was 'relieved of his duties' the one and only candidate would be Avram Grant...
Lets be honest, as much as we 'want' and 'hope' that he can be here to help Hart in reality he was brought in to act as a back-up and it has always been inevitable that he would eventually take over - so, how long do you leave this before it does happen?
Would Grant even do a better job?
Hart is doing his best for us, and despite our league position I like the way he has the team bonded and those assembled, but I cannot help but think that his tactical failings, which we have seen a number of times this season, MUST be stamped out - but can he change? I fear he does not have that plan B that we need...
All in all though a record of 10 defeats, 2 wins and 1 draw in 13 league games is a dreadful record, even given the 'hands tied' nature that Hart has had to work with, so can you continue with this sort of record?
Not forgetting that record from last season too...
Does it all boil down to finances?
Can we simply not afford to sack Hart? This is something that I tend to think may well be the case as do we honestly think he would have retained his job if there was the money to replace him?
Is this a fairly 'easy' decision to make, even if it 'costs money' that we do not seem to have. Can we afford to sack Hart, or can we afford not to? If answered with a 'he goes' answer that then leaves us with an 'easier', 'if/when' that is made, one to follow. Would Grant do a better job - as he is the man that would take over without a doubt!
But would he? I just do not know...
So many questions are thrown up are they not? And I have several answers for each I reckon - I am glad this is not a decision I have to make, then again I honestly do not know what I would do. The manager has shortcomings for sure but is it not the shortcomings of our board that have made things worse for everyone, and maybe will continue to? Is this board competent enough to make the right decision, whichever this is?
It is not all Hart's fault though is it, he does not go out onto the pitch and play does he - the players are failing to score the goals, so that is not his fault, right?
It is horrible, I HATE talking about sacking managers and do not like publicly saying we should do so, but is there any other option - do we keep going and going until it is too late, or do we 'accept' that we are going down now and let Hart try and build a side for the future?
Off the fence - should he stay or go?
I just do not know!
I am so torn but everything above seems as though I am sitting on the fence - at best arguably convincing myself that we need to keep Hart but the splinters are starting to hurt I guess and I have to come down off this?
Is it Hart's tactical inadequacies or is it that the players just are not good enough? Is it a combination on both? I really think that we need to get some width into the side as without width you will not create enough, if you cannot create enough you cannot get enough chances, without enough chances you cannot have enough efforts at goal and of course efforts at goal that go in equal goals and goals win games. Should we have to make a change of managers for this to happen? I would like to say no, but Hart just seems too stubborn to change.
We cannot afford to go down, although I now fear, and this is for the first time EVER in our premier league existence, and I include our first season up and our 'great escape' season that we are heading towards a point of no return. I like Hart but put it this way if I was not getting the results in a job I was being paid to do how much time would I be given? The answer would be not a lot - so in spite of the conditions he has had to work under, and in spite of the fact that if we cannot afford to pay off debts how can we afford to sack the manager and pay him off I think that we must now be at a point where we say we cannot afford NOT to get rid or Hart and install Grant, right?
I have enjoyed the football we have played this season, but I do not enjoy the results we are getting and I DO fear that I will not enjoy the football under Grant but feel the results probably would come more and results are what we need. So, for that reason I feel that it is time for Hart to be moved on and be replaced by Grant - although I also think it is time that the board actually started doing something as we appear to have no leadership at all, the one doing this seems to be Hart, and that is not his job!
Let me make it clear that I am not terrified of getting relegated because I do not want us to drop out of the premier league, the 'best league' in the world, I am terrified of being relegated as I fear for our future if this happens!
For me it is not as simple as we go down, rebuilding and it will be ok, we might even come back, we are in the s**t, even more so, if that happens. If we go down I fear we face financial ruin or meltdown. I heard rumours of administration coming for a couple of highflying championship sides yesterday, and today you read about this potentially happening to Charlton, these clubs that you hear this happening to - the names of these championship clubs, and Charlton - may well be playing in lower leagues but you could very well argue they are 'bigger' clubs than we are, so god only knows what our fate would be, considering we appear to be having enough trouble as it is and we are in the most lucrative league in the world!
So, as much as it does pain me to say it I am sorry but I think we need to change, we need to give Grant as much time as is possible to try and turn things round - I am not sure that Hart is going to be able to do this, and have had reservations about Grant being able to as well but we at least have to give ourselves the best chance of doing so, and he now needs to start doing something for what he is being paid to do.
All in all I would almost guarantee, assuming we can actually afford the pay-off - that is also assuming that a 'clause' in to already in place - that a decision has 'probably' been made. I imagine much depends on Grant and how his permit application is coming along, but I also suspect that we will 'conveniently' see this arrive this weekend - just in time for him to take over AFTER the Manyoo game.
I suspect that Hart is very much now being used as the sacrificial lamb, in more ways than one as he most probably has all along! No doubt to cover the shortcomings of the moronic board we have in place they are keeping him in place to 'shift the blame', although I also suspect that they would not want to appoint Grant ahead of the Manyoo game for fear of a 'hammering', and they would not want Grant to be the one of the end of this...
Then again you run the risk of the almost 'unthinkable' happening - we beat Manyoo, what do they do then?
As much as I might have said above, that sadly after much soul searching I feel we need to make this change, as we did not do this after the Stoke game can we really do this after Manyoo if we lose? Lets be honest who seriously would expect us to beat them? Of course I am not saying that we cannot but giving a manager this game to 'prove himself' would be unfair, right? Then again 'fair' is not something that is associated with football, or much in the world, these days.
So, as we have not removed Hart in the wake of the Stoke defeat this can only mean that he has 2 more league games to save his job, with Burnley being the one that 'should' now decide his future - seen as the Stoke game was not the one that did?
The real villains!
See, even now, as this article has gone on - and I have written, rewritten, added, taken away, added to again, thought and rethought again and again over the past 24-36-hours, it still seems that I am in two minds, which I am I guess!
Once again, as sorry as I am to say it I think Hart needs to go, but I cannot help but think that the real damage has already been done - we are not quite dead in the water yet, but we are rapidly approaching this high tide that will drag us under.
Although I unfortunately think that he should go I feel his limitations, as they HAVE been with others, are being exploited big time by those that 'run' the club! These are the true 'villains' here and it is they that should be bloody well ashamed of themselves!
These are the ones, that as unlikely as I suspect it will be come March when they come asking for my season ticket money again, I should turn round to and say f**k off to as WHAT have they done for me - and everyone else - to warrant expecting us to part with hundreds of pounds worth of our hard earned money?
Of course it is a nailed on certainty that I will not because unlike them my desire, commitment and love for this club is never ending...
PLAY UP POMPEY!