Monday, March 27, 2023

Tough decisions may come after Grays slump to defeat

Romford 2 v 0 Grays

THIS isn’t working. Grays Ath are losing game after game after game. Tonight (Tuesday) in the drizzle up in Aveley, it wasn’t a team that lost to Romford 2-0, it was a collection of footballers who are staring at the wrong end of the league.

With over thirty players used it has also become clear that acquiring players is not the answer and it may not be their fault. The focus now has to fall on the management team.

Julian Dicks is not in a unique situation. In 1974 Bobby Charlton stood in the dug out as manager at Preston North End and thought: “There is more to this than I thought”. A few years later, Bobby Moore tried to educate Southend United players on the art of sublime skill and world class interceptions. It wasn’t happening and both legends never managed again.

Nobody thought any less of them. Nobody thinks any less of Julian Dicks the footballer.

The pre-seasons were solid, the early form was good. Indeed, when Grays lost 1-0 to Harlow on the opening day, there was a sense that it was the two teams that would contest the one automatic place. Both had similar “big” budgets (allegedly) and although nobody promised promotion, the intent seemed there.

Andy Swallow’s vision was clear. As he told The Times: “In five years, I see us with our own ground, our own identity and in the Conference South.”

The run of five victories underlined this and even in the way, Grays won “ugly” at Leyton illustrated how the team could fight their way out of the league.

But it appears that since the Waltham Forest game that Grays have hit the buffers. The form hasn’t dropped dramatically but ebbed away steadily. Enfield was a reality check (there was the traffic) but it was at Ware that the alarm bells rang. Redbridge gave the fans the horrible feeling that they were infact watching a relegation dogfight. Potters Bar and tonight at Romford underlined that Grays Athletic are in total freefall.

The players have become a collection of individuals. They only thing that makes them a team is the kit they are wearing. One hopes they appreciate that their careers are approaching crisis point. For many there were times in the West Ham Academy or League One or League Two. Their time at Grays was meant to be a period of re-adjustment followed by a bounce back up the league. Now they are traipsing off at the Mill Field realising that their careers are imploding in front of their eyes.

You have to feel for the fans. On Saturday, it was the odd stupid chant (One Craig Edwards?) however, the atmosphere felt different tonight. Maybe it was the site of the loyal fans taking down their banners and sloping off home before the final whistle.

What the club may have to consider is that some fans muttered as they left that they are saddled with Julian Dicks and Kenny Brown as they are part of some grand design.

It is always a difficult time and it is always a tricky one to judge in journalism. We will be wrong before and will be wrong again but asking fans to shell out cash in the teeth of a recession on cold nights in Great Wakering and Redbridge in November is a tough ask but someone has to ask the tough questions.

The trick is the right answer. Pride hurts but it seldom helps.

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  1. 30 Players??? blimey, the season has not long been started and they have used that many players, this was their problem over the past 2 seasons with over 70 players on each season, you can never build a team with loanees and bit part players, you need a consistant squad and if JD can’t see that then he has some learning to do.

  2. Its a real shame, many stalwart fans have been so positive to get the team and the season going, probably using much of that 110% that JD advocates on getting the thing going.

    Now though with a big turnover of players how many apart from Simon Thomas lol, feel they are here to stay.

    As for JD, his CV as a manager is about as inspiring as walking down Bridge Road. Those that quote JD is part of the Grand Design should know they have been heavily involved in the club recently.

    I feel it is time to look at the managers position, his interviews don’t give over the up and at them approach he purveyed as a player, he picks the team and the tactics, so should pay the price of failure.

    I must say when he was installed I thought we would see a much different approach for the renowned ‘hard man’ as a long time Hammers fan, I was kind of hoping JD and KB (loved to watch his dad play) would succeed, now though I am not so sure.

    If they do change managers the way forward is to get a guy who has good experience at this level not a ‘name’.

    Good luck Grays Ath, you need it.

  3. The team looked a certain top 4 at the start of the season yet the manager decided to change things around which has seen an alarming slide down the table.

    Most fans would be able to select their strongest team with success yet Mr Dicks appears incapable of doing so.

    Maybe the club does not want promotion?


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