I wouldn’t describe my demeanour as calm but it’s somewhat less emotionally charged in comparison to last Saturday afternoon.
I’ve no doubt that my fury over the events of season 2016-17 will spill over into next season when the turgid League One campaign begins.
There’s a common theme when it comes to Raith Rovers relegations: bad decisions off the football pitch. Remember when Claude Anelka arrived to turn Raith Rovers into Scotland’s third force?
I will make no effort to defend the performance of the players last campaign. That speaks for itself. You’ll find the league table doesn’t lie. Perhaps if the team hadn’t fallen like a pack of cards at numerous away matches the club would have stayed up by its finger tips.
When you experience sheer ridiculous “bad luck” with injuries to goalkeepers, refereeing decisions and fixture scheduling you need to make good decisions off the field. Shame, that’s the one thing Raith Rovers Football Club will be not be renowned for in season 2016-17.
Many people may think that my impending argument does not account for the disastrous on field displays but I encourage you to think otherwise. In 2015 the club announced a strategy for the next 5 years. Let me take you through this document and prove just how badly the Raith board got it wrong last season.
It’s laughable that when it comes to taking manageable risks that the appointment of Gary Locke was decision number one after a terrific achievement in season 2016-17. A man with a track record of failure convinced the Raith board he was the man.
If that decision appeared an error what followed laid the foundation for failure.
Whilst the club make clear at every opportunity that resources are tight, there is no doubting that resources are better than Ayr United and Dumbarton with similarities to Queen of the South and Greenock Morton.
So after the promotion playoff finish under Ray McKinnon it’s bizarre to think that Gary Locke and Darren Jackson were necessary actions for improvement. What followed was nothing short of a disgrace. Signing Rudi Skacel and Ryan Stevenson not to mention the baffling additions of Robbie Crawford and David Syme who never played a single minute! Whilst the board does not make transfers directly they are made aware of every transaction and they can intervene.
Objective B was flushed away when Eric Drysdale announced David Bates would join Rangers. Despite the young centre-half having very little game time he proved more than capable of stepping up when required. Despite injuries in defence it was regarded more valuable to loan him to Rangers were he eventually featured in the last Old Firm match. Not sure that quantifies as “make best use”.
Lewis Vaughan’s loan to Dumbarton could be the worst transfer decision in European football this season. Vaughan compiled 4 goals and 1 assist as he helped save The Sons. In contrast Raith signed Ryan Stevenson, ineffective under Locke but scored against Hibs before playing as a goalkeeper prior to announcing his immediate retirement.
A challenge enough to grow core supporters in a decling market but fans need something to get excited about. Messages from CEO, Eric Drysdale, such as the following are illadvised and shockingly offensive:
When Gary Locke was sacked less than a month later you have to question the motives of a CEO who clearly forgot that the people who will outlast any player, manager or director are the supporters.
You can now tick off accomplishing the failure of objective G in the how to run an unsuccessful football club manual.
The appointment of John Hughes, was on paper, a good one. But despite an unbeaten home record Hughes troubled players and supporters with his demoralising post-match comments. The board may not have been able to foresee this ludicrous behaviour but they could have prevented the Scottish Cup winning manager from making a mockery of a perilous situation. No new manager bounce with Hughes achieving an average 1.07 points per game vs 1.08 points for Gary Locke.
So now the board review of a shameful season is underway. Every decision taken by the Raith board in the coming days will be magnified. The club simply cannot afford to mess around in League One for numerous seasons. The board may believe that they can paper over the cracks in the coming weeks but truth is they should not be allowed to get away with their mistakes. Eight years of progress ruined in 12 months.