It is a pretty obvious statement to say we have not started the season as well as we hoped and the unrest amongst some of you is justified in that the performances we are putting in as a team are not good enough by a long way.
We have been working behind the scenes as hard as we can since the change of manager and it’s definitely been a challenge on lots of fronts. Our preparation this season was disrupted with a poor pre-season, a change in management and an early closing window along with a shortage of players at the start of this season. Combine that with players who wanted to go to other clubs in their final season or refused to sign new contracts and we have a nightmare scenario which we have had to try and deal with, although I expected more from this group of players.
There have been flashes of quality but the constant flow of long-term injuries has meant we could not put out a settled squad or team and for a club like Scunthorpe we can’t afford six or seven first team players constantly injured, we are not big enough for that.
After what I consider five successful seasons - a promotion, consolidation and then three top seven finishes, along with two consecutive play-off semi-final appearances - we have been spoilt and forget what we are, which is a club punching above its weight because of financial strength of its Chairman and family.
I have enjoyed the majority of my time at the football club, as I am a footballer at heart and becoming a Chairman of any club is an honour and I still feel the same. Promoting the club throughout my life and my family’s life has been totally enjoyable and I hope to continue that relationship.
There have been difficult times and I got it right then and I will now, so all I ask is don’t just come and support us when it’s good, come to support the team when it’s tough. Surely IRON is about strength and support, not weakness and blame?
In my time here, I have not at any time shirked any responsibility, decision or decided that I can’t be bothered to turn up when we are having difficulties and the team is not performing, so it was disappointing to see that 500 fans did exactly that on Saturday. We do not have the greatest following in numbers, so that number of people not turning up makes a huge difference financially in running the club side of things, and it was the last game before Christmas at home!
If I took that attitude we would be in trouble, so if you want me to invest in the club, you must invest also and that is by turning up, buying a ticket, buying the food and drink on offer. I have asked no more of you regardless of the football played and it keeps people employed.
Stuart has come in at a hugely tricky time and it will affect his judgement, because he doesn’t know the players, he hasn’t had many weeks with everyone fit and those fit players he does have are underperforming. It is not rocket science, we can’t defend, we just can’t defend and that is the issue, whether from the front or as defenders, it just isn’t happening for us. I believe this has been an opportunity for certain players to claim a starting place after being part of the squad for the last couple of seasons, but they just haven’t stepped up and you never know if they are good enough until they are put in that position. In one game recently we had two left-backs, two right-backs and two central midfielders out, and we are then asking players to play out of position and younger players to step in. It has not worked because we haven’t been good enough and that is unacceptable from a player point of view, we expect the basics done well and that has not been on view. We all know when it doesn’t go for you everything goes against you and that has happened, losing Ryan to a season ending injury, having the likes of Jordan, Funso and Josh unavailable for the majority of matches does weaken us. It has to, we are Scunthorpe, not Man Utd!
The players who are playing now need to step up and prove their worth. It’s unacceptable for the fans to watch that sort of performance we delivered on Saturday and I do understand the frustration and disappointment, but the players will respond. They are a good bunch of lads who just need to concentrate and get a few breaks. The management will be working hard with them this week and I expect a response at Doncaster - although we know that is going to be difficult, we must put the effort in training to give us the best chance of winning that game and the following 25 games!
It is no good hiding the fact that in January we will bring players in and some will go out, the players will understand that, but we need a response now, not in the future. I have been working with Stuart to identify the players we need and we will strengthen considerably if necessary, we still are an ambitious club, the results do not change that, just the challenge becomes more difficult.
I will draw on what we have seen in previous seasons in that the likes of Plymouth and Barnsley had amazing runs up the league from the bottom of the division, in worse positions than ours! We have to be positive regardless of our position - although that is difficult, it is harder and more impressive to do that than just criticise everything the club does on and off the field. Our run has been terrible, yet we are only six points off the middle of the league, we haven’t been destroyed by teams under Stuart. It has been our own mistakes and poor play which have let the opposition take advantage of us and that will change.
I stand or fall by every decision I make and I am man enough to continue to do that. Even if you don’t always see what happens behind the scenes, you must trust that I make all these decisions for the betterment of the football club and my record here shows that.
There will be further statements prior to Christmas regarding planning and that will be positive, as we meet with the planners over the coming two weeks, which will start a new era for the club commercially.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and safe travels to all the games over the festive period.