THE SENTIMENTAL steamtrain of popular support behind Tony Mowbray is worrying.
Not because he isn’t a strong candidate. He is. He has experience at this level, has a clear football philosophy that is in step with the way the fans – and the chairman – expect the game to be played and he understands the Teesside psyche. He could help repair some of the damage off the pitch as much as on it. And he would be my choice out of the names I’ve heard thrown in so far.
But should you appoint a manager purely on the basis of an upsurge of popular support?
Is the current emotional orchestration in favour of Mogga being “the only one for the job” another step towards the on-going Geordification of the Boro crowd? Are we now looking for a Messiah rather than a manager with the appropriate skill-set? Is Mogga our Keegan? Can the job now only be done by a former icon, a one time skipper or someone born within the cultural orbit of Ayresome Park? Is it now about playing to the gallery and a gesture to a crowd with an ever more limited mental universe?
The list of candidates is heavy on former players – Nigel Pearson, Paul Ince and Mogga – are probably the most frequently mentioned of the rational candidates. But there will be dozens of others. Boro, for all our own depressive mind set after three bleak years, remains a big club. Recent European finalist, recent cup winners, recent Premier League fixtures and with an external image of being a well run club with a loyal and responsible chairman, an excellent acadamy and superb facilities. This is a plum job.
We should bare in mind that there will be a very strong pool of candidates sending in theirs CV, including a host that are not not part of the lazy taboid target-by-numbers list of unemployed usual suspects. Many will have impeccable coaching qualifications, recruiting records, big ambitions and fantastic tactical acumen and just because they have not popped up on our radar does not mean we should assume they are not there.
Who would have gone for Steve McClaren at the time? And who would have thought about Ottmar Hitzfeld last time round. That was a big mistake and we should make sure we do not miss out on such a glorious opportunity again just because a fantastic candidtae never had a legendary rapport with the Holgate.
Above all it is important to get the right man. It is important to get not a tired and spent force on the way down but to get the next big thing on the rise. We need to get the next David Moyes. The next Steve McClaren. The right man. The man that fits exactly the profile that we need at the club now. And to do that it is important to go through a well thought out recruitment procedure rather than get whipped up in an emotional overture.
The danger of the Mogga megolith is that is has the potential to crash all rational considerations and the prospects of any viable alternative. What if it doesn’t come off? What if the red tape with his Celtic contract, his wage demands or the fear of tranishing his image with the faithful get in the way? What then? Anyone else is on a hiding to nothing and will be booed after the first defeat or two on the grounds that they don’t understand the club, aren’t Boro through and through, aren’t rocket ship pilots.
And where do the club if Mogga can’t be landed fo some reason? Do they then turn to uber-mascot Juninho? With a generational checklist ticking coalition of Alan Peacock, John Hickton, Bernie Slaven and Craig Hignett behind the scenes backing him?
This is not the X-Factor. You can’t decide on the basis of having all the candidates bellowing “Who’s That Team…” in the centre-circle in a sing-off to decide by popular vote who is the most passionate about Boro.
This managerial appointment is the biggest decision Steve Gibson has made since Bryan Robson and he must get it right. And he must get it right for the right reasons.
If Tony Mowbray comes it must because he is the strongest and best candidate for the job and because he brings with him drive and determination and most importantly a vision for the future; because he has a clear prospectus for rebuilding the club that is a good fit with the current financial status and planned development of the club; because all parties are convinced he can work with what we have now and can swiftly develop what we have in the pipeline and supplement it with shrewd and affordable signings.
It is more important to get it right than do it quickly and play to the gallery.