Column: '˜No satisfaction' but issues proved too much as control slipped away from Wilson

No one can derive any real satisfaction from how Danny Wilson's spell as Chesterfield boss came to an end.

Monday, 9th January 2017, 4:20 pm
Chesterfield vs Coventry City - Danny WIlson - Pic By James Williamson
Chesterfield vs Coventry City - Danny WIlson - Pic By James Williamson

A Town legend thanks to his playing days, Wilson faced a host of issues that, combined, proved too much even for a veteran manager.

In his own words there was no ‘wiggle room’ in the budget from the day he arrived, his small squad was beset by a bewildering injury crisis and a number of players simply didn’t perform with any level of consistency.

But what appeared to signal the beginning of the end was a loss of patience in the stands – brought about by the perceived negativity in Town’s tactics against MK Dons a week ago.

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There had been boos before during his year-long tenure, but nothing like the collective dissent expressed in the final stages of that game.

With the score finely poised at 0-0, Chesterfield were visibly settling for a point, taking their sweet time over free-kicks and goal-kicks and making no attempt to go and win the game.

That, in the context of all the very well documented off field concerns that have led to supporter apathy, proved too much for many Town fans and they made their feelings known.

There seems to be a moment when some managers reveal, inadvertently, that control is slipping away from them.

For Dean Saunders it was a temporary loss of composure during an interview with a radio journalist at the Proact following a fairly routine question about growing pressure.

For Wilson, it was the moment he turned on the supporters and wildly gestured for them to get behind the team as time ticked away against MK Dons.

It was uncharacteristic, Wilson is a man who largely keeps his emotions in check during games, but he reacted to the boos in a big way and the gestures had the opposite of his desired effect.

He was never one who seemed to particularly relish his weekly press conference, there was little chit chat before his interviews and upon their conclusion he was more often than not straight out the door.

Make no mistake, he rarely shirked a question and always remained civil, but in his final weekly meeting with the local media, Wilson’s tone when questioned by Peak FM was defensive, verging on aggressive.

Rumours that Gary Liddle, a player he brought to the club, his choice of skipper, was to depart over the weekend were a perfectly reasonable line of questioning but he was in no mood to entertain it.

A few journalists have had short shrift this season, mostly when trying to elicit a quote over the Ched Evans situation, something Wilson simply refused to discuss.

That, of course, is well within his rights. A manager might be obliged by commercial contracts to speak to local radio stations, but he doesn’t have to answer every question they ask.

But when the Peak FM interview turned to his gestures towards the fans, Wilson again shut it down abruptly and refused to elaborate.

Maybe it was an off day, or maybe he could feel the situation getting away from him, but it won’t be remembered as a fond farewell to the press room.

The timing of his departure was surprising in one sense, and reasonable in another.

A defeat by Bradford was expected by most people outside the Town dressing room – and perhaps even by some inside – no one could legitimately demand a win for the Spireites against a bonafide promotion hopeful.

But with just a few short weeks of the January transfer window left, the board felt they had to act.

The poor turnout of visiting supporters at Valley Parade has been highlighted in the wake of Wilson’s sacking, and it stands to reason that some fans simply couldn’t justify the expense to watch a team currently devoid of attacking creativity.

No goals in four outings tells a tale, especially in light of a six-game goalless streak not so long ago.

Something had to be done to get bums back on seats and throw the dice in an attempt to avoid what would be a truly costly outcome – relegation.

You’d think it unlikely that Dave Allen could sell the club for £15m or anything like it if they were a League Two outfit, and the dreaded drop would knock even more numbers off already falling attendances.

In short, Chesterfield cannot afford to have more supporters staying away on match days.

Is it all Danny Wilson’s fault that 670 season ticket holders skipped the MK Dons game? Absolutely not.

Could he have turned it around with the return to fitness of a couple of key players and a bit of luck in the transfer window? Quite possibly, he did keep them up last season after all.

We’ll never know, now, and by the time his sacking was announced, he had cleared his personal effects from the stadium.

Many supporters have expressed relief at the decision but one in particular used the phrase ‘no satisfaction’ and it seems apt to me.

It was a risk, taking on the biggest job in the town he calls home, in difficult circumstances, under extreme financial restraints - a risk many would not have entertained.

The risk didn’t pay off.

Some signings he made, like Liddle, just didn’t work out as he might have expected.

Some players let him down with a lack of consistency, failing to show their full ability.

And in recent weeks, some of the football played by his team, at least going forward, has been a difficult watch.

But he’ll forever be favourably linked with the club for whom he made 100 league appearances.

And while there were moments in his stint as manager that will live long in the memory – a 7-1 thrashing of Shrewsbury, the win over Bury to secure safety, beating big boys Bolton at the Proact – I dare say a lot of Spireites will chose to remember Danny Wilson the Chesterfield player.