There are more worrying obstacles than a squirrel looming for tactless Scunthorpe manager Alan Knill
Surely the funniest story to have been reported so far this season – and it’s going to take some beating – is the one about Alan Knill crashing his bike last week, going head-first over the handlebars after colliding with a squirrel.
It was a bizarre incident that would never have been exposed had Knill not willingly offered it up himself in a press conference shortly after his Scunthorpe team lost at home to Notts County in the Jonhstone’s Paint Trophy last Tuesday.
The Iron had been booed off in the wake of their sixth defeat on the spin and the manager was the primary target of the fans’ fury. Presumably, Knill hoped that recounting his ‘near-death’ experience earlier in the day would help to put things into perspective. If so, it failed.
Instead, it was open season on the comments section of the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph, where the main concern of most locals seemed to be the welfare of the squirrel. Let’s just say that ‘Roadkill Knill’ was by no means the hero of this particular episode.
All of which seems to be indicative of Knill’s judgement on most things at the moment. The fans have unanimously arrived at the conclusion that he is leading a sinking ship, yet Knill believes he can make light of the situation with a crazy anecdote that turns a personal mishap, witnessed only by an elderly passerby, to his own advantage.
Four days on, Knill was lacking tact in front of the media once again. After Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Sheffield United, when his team laboured for an hour against ten men only to then concede a late equaliser against nine, he was keen to stress the positives: “We haven’t lost, that’s the most important thing.”
It’s obvious what Knill is trying to do, he’s trying to protect the confidence of his players. But their confidence is already shredded and Knill should realise that his priorities now lie elsewhere. This isn’t about dressing room management anymore, it’s crisis management. At the very least, he should acknowledge that the team is in trouble.
Last season, Scunthorpe picked up just ten wins in League One when many were tipping them to bounce back from relegation with an instant play-off charge. It doesn’t matter what opposing managers had to say about some of the football they played, it’s easy to be magnanimous when you’ve been let off the hook. It was a disappointing campaign by any stretch of the imagination.
At the start of this season, the Iron needed to make a statement. They needed to show people, not least their own fans, a change of attitude. Now the emphasis had to be less about performances and more about results. So far, they’ve offered neither and Knill’s excuses have been anything but consistent.
With each passing interview, the pervading mood has developed from concern to disappointment, then from horror to outrage. Now the Glanford Park faithful appear to be incredulous and Knill seems oblivious to the possibility that his public remarks might be serving only to reduce the time he has to turn things around.football
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