In a brave and bold move by Barnet, Mark Robson was appointed as the new manager of the club, with him also taking the role of head-coach. This ends the seemingly endless wait for the club to appoint a manager since the sacking of “The Magician” Lawrie Sanchez.
After another three-game stint, Martin Allen was the fans’ choice to get the job after keeping us up again. But after many weeks without any communication from the club, it seemed unlikely that the club would appoint the “Mad Dog.” Paul Fairclough, who is now the club’s director of football after two spells in charge, confirmed this by saying that they were looking for a “Coach as opposed to a manager.”
The appointment of Robson sees a big change in emphasis at the club, with the statement regarding his appointment reading “…rather than have a Football Manager with some coaching skills, I believe we need a Head Coach who can be taught management skills. To assist Barnet in establishing a footballing philosophy we have appointed Mark Robson as our new “Head Coach/Manager”. Mark is a highly skilled, highly qualified and respected coach in the professional game. He will not waiver from his beliefs. I am convinced that if results were not going in our favour, Mark would look for new solutions without compromising our philosophy and his personal beliefs on how the game should be played.”
The statement also talked about the club’s plans to improve the youth academy and to give the younger players more of a chance; which in my view is a fantastic decision. This move by the club could be likened to the philosophy of Crewe Alexandra, who play an attractive brand of football, while blooding in many younger players.
It is fair to say that very few people knew he was under consideration for the job. This is because we expected Martin Allen to get given the job. When we realised that this wasn’t about to happen, a number of names were flurried around, ranging from Glenn Hoddle to Stephen Constantine.
With no news from the club in weeks regarding a managerial appointment; I checked the website in hope rather than out of expectation. To see the news of Robson appointed came as a shock.
During his playing career, Robson was a winger who played for Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic amongst others.
The latter club was where he started his coaching career, when he was appointed as academy coach in 2000. He remained in this position until 2006, when he was promoted to reserve-team manager. Further promotions came in the same year to development coach, assistant head-coach and first-team coach; with all of these positions coming as a result of the Addicks numerous managerial appointments.
He left the club in the summer of 2008, but he was soon back in football as first-team coach of Gillingham, who were then managed by former Barnet boss Mark Stimson. Andy Hessenthaler’s appointment as Gillingham manager in 2010 saw him become assistant managed: he resigned from the role three weeks later though for personal reasons.
Peterborough United was his next port-of-call, where he became first-team coach; staying here until becoming the Barnet manager.
Robson could also change many things at the club. Unlike the “hoofball” used under Lawrie Sanchez, we are likely to see a more attacking and attractive brand of football. He will also be heavily involved with the youth-team, which could see many younger players put into the squad. His coaching credentials also mean that many players will develop and improve; this is due to Robson being regarded as one of the best coach’s in the game.
He has also recieved the support of many people in the game. Barnet striker Steve Kabba said that “He will help to move the club in the right direction”, while former Barnet defender Simon King said “I couldn’t speak highly enough of him, his drills, coaching and training… I would always look forward to a session with him. He set very high standards, if you weren’t up to standard you would know about it… I’m sure he would be a good manager if he got the chance.”
After the perennial relegation battles of recent years, big changes were needed at the club. Yes, appoint Mark Robson is a risk, but it is one worth taking. He was well-regarded as a coach at all the clubs he has been at; while the football he will make us play is much desired. In the months to come, we will either regard this appointment as a “stroke of genius” or as “yet another flop.” Paul Fairclough said that “In Mark Robson we have secured the services of a forward-thinking coach who will lead the club along a new and exciting pathway. I truly see this as a new dawn for Barnet Football Club.” Let’s hope that this is the case.
I would like to end the article by sending my condolences to the family and friends of Dennis Signy, who was a well-respected figure at the club, other clubs in the country, by players and managers alike and football journalists. RIP.
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