What is going wrong at Harrogate Town? Acting sports editor Ed White believes new ideas are needed to help under-pressure manager Weaver but stability should still remain.
Without a win in seven matches and dipping dangerously close to the relegation zone, the pressure is beginning to tell at Harrogate Town.
Six goals conceded and two defeats in seven days was exactly what boss Simon Weaver did not need when he welcomed in the new year last week.
It ended a festive period which warranted just two points, and while fixtures were against two fledgling teams in the league, those results are not enough with the money being shelled out at the CNG Stadium.
Sunday’s defeat to Hednesford was another dire performance to stack to a growing pile. The first half was a painful 45 minutes for the supporters to endure, and while the second half included the odd chance when four strikers were thrown forward, there was never a realistic belief Town would get back into the fixture.
Simon had thrown the dice again prior to kick-off and made five changes from the humiliating result at Guiseley on New Year’s Day - starting with the team that pulled two goals back late on at Nethermoor Park. A new hope too with veteran midfielder Jamie Milligan adding his experience as captain.
But, with so many new faces again in the squad, Town looked exactly what they were – a team that had no idea how to play together.
High balls were sent up field, and most rebounded back. There was no cuteness to the attacking play, and the change of style shortly into the second-half handed midfield space for the visitors to operate. This was nowhere close to the controlled home performances of the last few years. It was the panic of an under-pressure manager and truly resembled Sunday football.
There is no surprise that the faithful supporters have jeered from the new Hospital End Stand at the CNG Stadium and vented anger during such a worrying decline.
At the end of last season I suggested failure in Simon’s fifth season may be less forgiving by some.
That is certainly starting to show in some quarters.
After expectation was raised through a spate of reputation-clad signings in the summer, an improvement on the previous two seasons (in which Harrogate finished sixth and ninth) needed to be made to please the people spending their money each week.
However, now the support base has been left in an impossible situation.
The money invested off the field has brought the club out of the doldrums and new facilities and pitch have made Town a respected entity in Non League football.
However, the unique situation with the current ownership at the CNG Stadium Road has made fans feel Simon is untouchable in his position as manager.
Ultimately, the supporters want results.
When the club shines, there are no calls for change.
But the current run of form has created more questions from fans as to whether the current structure would have remained with the same budget elsewhere.
There is no question Simon has football through his core.
He is an extremely knowledgeable coach with several useful contacts. His analysis of opposition is as good as any other in the semi-professional game and he has used it to good effect ti take the club through many highs over the last years.
However, a fresh approach at Town is needed somewhere through the core of the leadership to establish a consistent playing style, arrest the current run of form, and appease the loyal supporters voting with their feet.
Simon has dismissed any thought of a third member joining himself and assistant John McDermott.
But I believe fresh input from a third voice would bring a new emphasis in a dressing room that looks so despondent. Stability may be unfashionable in football, but it is not worth giving up easily. However, when the times are tough, new ideas and fresh angles must be approached.
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