Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Peter Harrington Gone. For Who's Benefit?

I have been caught on the hop over this week's post.  I was going to write a few lines on the Essex Senior League rules on drinking alcohol at matches.  However this will have to wait because, yesterday afternoon, I read, on social media, that the Clapton assistant manager, Peter Harrington, has left the club.

Those who follow my meanderings on this blog will know that I have been impressed by Peter, and his colleagues, Dan Portsmouth and Mike Whittaker, who joined us from Sporting Hackney during the close season. Immediately upon their arrival it had become very noticeable that there was an air of increased competency in the way the players were being prepared and warmed up before games and that the players' fitness appeared to give us an advantage late on in matches, resulting in some winning goals in the final minutes. 

Despite this, I understand that Clapton manager Mike Walther had asked Peter to step down as Assistant Manager and become coach, making way for former Eton Manor manager, John Benstead, to replace him.  John Benstead first appeared in the Clapton dug out about three weeks ago.  He was manager of Eton Manor for just over a year before being was replaced last October. In those circumstances, I am not surprised that Peter has made the decision to leave.

In previous posts I also said that the team may have 'flattered to deceive' at the beginning of the season and that our results and league position has now levelled out. At no stage have I seen, or heard, even after five successive defeats, calls from supporters for immediate changes in the managerial set up.  Therefore the thinking behind the events that have led up to Peter's departure are worthy of closer examination.

The question is whether the departure of Peter Harrington could possibly be of any benefit to Clapton FC on or off the field.  I would argue that that it is not.

Since Mike Walther took charge of Clapton there has been an unprecedented list of comings and goings among team management and coaching staff.  Marc Nurse was in, then out, then in again and then out again.  Kevin Lucas and Stuart Purcell were brought in and, in just over a month, were said to have 'resigned'.  Neil Blackburn was in, then out and then Erico Tiritera stuck in a shift to help out temporarily.  Finally, at the start of this season, the recruitment of the three chaps from Sporting Hackney seemed like a superb appointment. (apologies to anyone who has sat on the Clapton bench in the last 15 months who I might have missed out)

So, do we really need a new assistant manager when we already have a guy who appears to have the respect of the players, many of whom had followed him to Clapton in the close season and now make up the majority of the first team

In my view, the unilateral imposition of John Benstead is, at best, very poor management and, it could be argued, serves Mike Walther's purpose, rather than that of the team, the club or the fans. It is no secret that many supporters believed that Peter Harrington, Dan Portsmouth and Mike Whittaker were the most effective and influential members of the management team, and that they commanded the most respect from the players. The dressing room 'fall outs' posted on Twitter, (eg the Shomari Barnwell substitution at Eton Manor) were said to have been instigated by Mike's poor judgment and consequently only served to undermine him as the 'Manager'.  Perhaps this is his way of re-establishing control, notwithstanding the negative effect it has on the team and the supporters.

Unsurprisingly, Dan Portsmouth and Mike Whittaker have left. No doubt we'll see an advert for a 'physio intern' in a few days on Vince's website as we start from ground zero again. On the playing front, Shomari Barnwell has announced on Twitter that tonight's match against Basildon United will be his last in a Clapton shirt and, I think we can expect more departures in the next few days.

This constructive dismissal was never about a solution to a poor run of results.  Its about the Manager attempting to protect his position.  Damn the supporters, damn the ultras, damn the players, damn the hard work put in by everyone in trying to build a unit.  Its about ego and posturing and, as yet, not a word from the Chief Executive.

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