Column: Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t?

Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com. Football, Sky Bet League One; 
Swindon Town v Chesterfield; 04/03/2017 KO 3.00pm;  
County Ground; copyright picture;Howard Roe/AHPIX.com
A frustrated Spirites boss Gary Caldwell during the first half at Swindon

Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com. Football, Sky Bet League One; Swindon Town v Chesterfield; 04/03/2017 KO 3.00pm; County Ground; copyright picture;Howard Roe/AHPIX.com A frustrated Spirites boss Gary Caldwell during the first half at Swindon

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Dave Allen has called this season a ‘bit of a car crash’ but it’s fairer to say it’s a complete write-off.

The club owner admitted in his programme notes for Saturday’s game that the sooner the 2016/17 campaign is out of the way, the better and on that we can all agree.

This annus horribilis will not be remembered fondly and few at the club will emerge from it with any credit.

On the field, after a promising start, things went badly awry and steadily got worse.

Just two victories in 2017 have dragged the Spireites’ win ratio down to a pitiful one in four games.

Since Gary Caldwell came in, the win ratio has plumetted to 7.7 per cent.

In just two months he’s gone from an intriguing appointment to a man under extreme scrutiny and pressure.

If he were a US president, his approval rating would be through the floor.

Relegation was, most will agree, probable when Caldwell arrived – it was a monumental task facing the Scot.

And to a degree his standing in the eyes of the fans has been damaged by the ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ conundrum.

If he publicly accepted relegation he’d be castigated for ‘giving up’ but trotting out the ‘we must keep believing’ line earns derision.

Stating that the players are good enough, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, sounds naive.

But if he admits they aren’t good enough, he’ll have ‘lost the dressing room.’

Many have called for kids to be given a chance but when Laurence Maguire was picked ahead of the popular Sam Hird, there was a backlash.

He admitted being hasty with his judgement of Connor Dimaio and started the midfielder, getting two solid performances in return.

When he dropped him due to low energy levels Caldwell took flak – but had Dimaio played and underperformed, it would have been Caldwell’s selection at fault.

We can’t forget that decisions made at the Proact by others, as far back as summer 2015, have made life difficult for Caldwell.

True, he hasn’t helped himself on occasion.

The loanees he brought in have failed to prove his statement that the squad was stronger on 1st February than a few days prior.

Telling negative supporters to stay away was clumsy, albeit said in the heat of the moment after a very difficult afternoon.

A last minute pull out from Monday’s Senior Spireites lunch was unavoidable, but against the backdrop of an appalling run of results, it didn’t look great.

In fact that backdrop is the reason why every little thing he says and does appears to be met with consternation.

In his own words, the results are unacceptable and it is on results that he and the rest of his fellow managers are judged.

This week he’s had Allen’s vote of confidence both in the programme notes and in social media posts by Ashley Carson – Caldwell is here next season.

But it’s going to take a concerted ‘hearts and minds’ campaign to get many of the fed up supporters back on side.

He might want to consider appointing a spin doctor as well as a head of recruitment.

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