I gave manager Alan Knill the benefit of the doubt, as he needed time to stamp his own mark on the club. He also had a disproportional squad, some of the players’ wages was deemed far too much for the small budget the club possesses.
Fast forward this season, in a summer of upheaval and new acquisitions to the side, I believed this season would be a more positive one. How wrong could I be?
The worst start to a season since 1966, Scunthorpe United were beaten once again last Saturday, losing 2-0 away at Hartlepool United. Played 4 lost 4, a goal difference of -10 and anchored to the foot of the League One table.
The season is still very young, and it would be pressing the panic button if Alan Knill was to be sacked so prematurely into the new campaign. But Knill has to justify the events that unfolded on the final day of the August transfer window.
Bobby Grant was sold to Rochdale for an undisclosed fee. The striker was a regular in the claret and blues starting XI. Despite finishing top goal-scorer for the club with 12 goals last season, the Liverpudlian struggled to build a rapport with the Iron fans, last season he was farmed out on loan to Accrington Stanley.
The start of this season appeared to be a revitalised Bobby Grant. Scorer of two goals in the historic 5-5 draw with Derby County, which ended with the Iron triumphing on penalties. However, in the 4-0 home defeat to Yeovil Town, Grant’s lacklustre display saw him substituted, cue cheers from the Scunthorpe fans, he showed his frustration by shaking his head as he trudged off the pitch.
Alan Knill said the fans reaction had a massive influence in Grant deciding his time had come to leave Glanford Park. The news of his transfer was announced lunchtime on deadline day. Many Iron fans began predicting which striker would be replacing Grant on a permanent or loan deal. Some fans began dreaming of previous loan star Ramon Nunez returning. As it turned out, the Iron fans were rewarded with nobody.
This sparked anger amongst the fans before the Hartlepool result. The question is did Knill allow Grant to leave thinking that he could bring in another striker on deadline day? One thing is for sure, the majority of Scunthorpe fans are voting on their feet, attendances are sinking rapidly, the voices calling the sack of Alan Knill continue to get louder and louder.
Knill had a difficult job on his hands as it is operating on a shoestring budget at the Iron. However he did the same at Bury and laid the foundations for The Shakers to get promoted to League One, before leaving for Glanford Park in March 2011.
As one of the media assistants at the club, I have to say I do feel for Alan Knill as he strikes me as a true footballing man who wants the best for the supporters and the club. The style of football that Knill has got the players doing is pleasing on the eye as they try and replicate Barcelona’s ‘ticki taka’ football. However, Scunthorpe have not been clinical enough with the ball.
Chairman Steve Wharton has publicly said he is searching for someone to take over the reins as an investor for the club. Gainsborough Trinity Chairman Pete Swann has announced he is stepping down at the end of this season, maybe he could be the new man that will inject some much needed money into the club?
Next Saturday sees Scunthorpe United back on home soil as they face play-off placed Sheffield United. A win could spark a turnaround in the clubs fortunes, silencing the boo-boys and easing the mounting pressure off Knill. However, a fifth defeat on the bounce could see Alan Knill edge even closer to the exit door.
Many fans will choose to stay away, it is a decision they are entitled to as they spend their hard earned wages on watching their hometown team. But it is important that the fans that still go and watch Scunthorpe United remain loyal through this hard period and get behind the players and the manager. I know it’s a cliché, but with the pitch so close to the turnstiles, the fans really can be a 12th man for the club.
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