It’s always nice when a minor celebrity gets involved with your club. That’s why Bangor High Street was buzzing this week with the news that the Citizens’ new manager would be Steve Bleasdale, the star of Sky’s Big Ron Manager programme.
For those of you who haven’t seen the programme, Bleaso was the star, the patsy, the scapegoat. At the time he had been given the job of manager at Peterborough United, after working as a coach there. He was having trouble gaining respect for his new role, but results were good. Chairman Barry Fry was offered a chance to feature in a show by Sky, and he’s not the type of bloke who turns down money and publicity.
Sky first took Ron Atkinson to Swindon Town, but their manager, Iffy Onuora was having none of it. Ron left with his tail between his legs, and they looked for another club. Bleasdale was in no position to argue when Fry took him to Posh.
Bleaso is a typical football-mad scouser. He wears his heart on his sleeve and expects his players to do likewise. But finesse is not his middle name. He rejected Ron’s requests to play a passing game, and stuck stubbornly to a 3-4-3 long ball system, even when Posh were sinking fast, and his players wanted to go short. He lost the dressing room, and resigned in extraordinary circumstances when Fry insisted on picking the team an hour before kick-off.
You had to have some sympathy for Bleasdale, but it was also difficult to see that he could work in football again, after the panning he took on the show. But here he is at Bangor. They’ll need periscopes on the Farrar Road End, and Davenport’s pretty football will seem like nirvana.
Bleasdale also had a problem with refs during his tenure at London Road. We can only hope that he will be more magnanimous in defeat than his predecessor Clayton Blackmore, who blamed everything but himself and his players for their predicament. Blackmore himself has been released by Bleasdale, obviously keen to remove Clayton’s influence from the club.
Whilst I was disappointed with Blackmore as a manager, for me he has been the best, most consistent player in the Welsh Premier since its foundation. While other players felt demeaned by playing in Wales, Blackmore’s commitment was exceptional. Even if he did once miss a European tie due because he was playing golf.
My only concern with Bleasdale’s appointment is that managers in this League tend to bring in players they know from their own area. Davenport recruited from the Cheshire leagues, with great success admittedly. Bleasdale will bring in players from Merseyside, and history has shown us that problems can arise when you look outside your locale for the core of your team. Previously Conwy, Caernarfon, and Cemaes Bay have all hit serious trouble after filling their side with Scouse mercenaries.
There has been a history of WP teams training away from their home town, and this can’t be right. While Haverfordwest trained in Swansea, Bangor trained Eastwards along the North Wales coast, miles from their home City, but closer to Davenport’s Cheshire set. While this might have good reasons pragmatically, it isn’t a proud boast for the League. With Bleasdale in charge at Bangor, will they soon be training at Accrington Stanley ?