• Duncan

A Can of Worms



Analysing the art of the club statement; the management role I had enjoyed for almost three years ceased recently. Why? Well the critic might suggest the fault lied squarely with yours truly. There may be grains of truth in that. After all, if we consider the wonderful world of football, we often look at the ebb and flow, failure and success of our favourite team and the management involved. Varied opinions, jovial or heated discussions often ensue, amongst topics which might include; the best team to pick, best players, who to sign next, the right tactics, the support of the dressing room, why one player is handled a certain way, or why a particular player may be performing better or worse than they were last game, week, month or year. The long and short of it, the manager is to blame. The scapegoat when it goes wrong or the soon forgotten voice in the background that helped make it all happen, unless of course you're Sir Alex Ferguson, Bob Paisley or Bill Shankly, when your voice echoes long after you've left the job.


I've spent time mulling over my predicament, not in a woe is me sort of way, as I perhaps used to do but more of a what would I do differently, is this what I want to do, how will I change and will I truly learn anything from the situation. In an effort not to leave myself hanging, I have learnt something. I no longer want to throw my whole self into an industry which has repeatedly chewed me up and spat me out. Let's put some context to it though, since I'm the one who repeatedly masticates; since the credit crunch I've had several jobs: Operations Manager at Warren House (made redundant), General Manager at Summer Isles Hotel (headhunted) to General Manager at Cringletie House (booted to make way for new husband and wife management), The Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course (let go as I didn't quite fit in to the profile of Inverlochy Castle Management International), Macdonald Linden Hall (dismissed, due to failure to hit profit targets), Cross Keys Hotel (dismissed and thankfully a turning point in my life) to The Ryebeck. Now, there is no question in my mind that I was largely to blame for my downfall in my leadership especially during my drinking years up to January 2016. So what happened and why now? I'm sober but perhaps I'm not as industrious, or as young or as challenged as I once was.


I'll take a soft nod towards Mr Wenger. It was suggested by a former player that he trusted his players to perform and learn from their mistakes (thanks Wikipedia). A loyal, faithful servant but in his latter years with the Gooners, somewhat ineffective, perhaps a little lost, but (my opinion) largely unsupported by the key member of his Board and hugely undervalued by many of his supporters, who felt that they deserved 'better'.



That said, I'm not sure whether he knew which way to steer his ship any more. Perhaps that was what was wrong with me, a lack of clarity and determination to chart a course? We'd got so far but couldn't quite tick all the boxes to be considered a success. That added spice and tenacity I once had, disappeared when I realised my heart was no longer in it, due to a multitude of reasons, some mine and some governed by the actions or lack of actions of others. Now, I know I needed to move on, to leave with dignity and pride but that didn't quite happen. Let's get back to Mr Wenger for a moment, I think he had players in whom he placed great faith, but imagine if you will that the Chairman wanted rid of a particular player but the manager determined that he was the one who picked the team. This scenario rumbles on for a year or so. You don't need to be a genius to work out what happens, the Chairman loses patience in the manager who stubbornly refuses to sell a preferred player but then their own misplaced loyalty in that player is subsequently thrown back in their face. Strange human nature and the story behind the story. Not that it makes any difference. If you lose the dressing room, you lose the team, especially if your star player purchased by the Chairman is pulling strings. I'm sure Mr Wenger had players who believed he was 'resting on his laurels'. Certainly that was a labelled applied to me.


The analogous veiled nature of this tale is laughable since I can hardly claim to have achieved the success of Arsène and certainly not 22 years of many inspirational and memorable chapters.


We had a company interview question, that generally always raised a few eyebrows; what breed of dog would you be and why? Perhaps the answer to why was critical as it offered a tenuous link to your personality/characteristics. My answer at interview was that I was a mongrel, our family's childhood pet, Muffin. The why, was that she was incredibly loyal, faithful, would do anything asked of her and generally bought a smile to our (my sisters, my parents and my) faces, she was kind to everyone and not territorial and had bundles of energy. I know my Dad and my sister still miss her many long years after her death. Emma and I recount a day when as children, we went running through long grass with Muffin bouncing through it like Tigger, halcyon days...


What could I have done differently to head off this unfortunate series of events, many things I'm sure? Procrastination is still one of my biggest anchors, as is the tendency to dream and strive for difficult summits. Pulled in both directions, I know I manage myself poorly. Looking online there are hundreds of articles on how to get inspired again, consider your job crossroads or help make your career choices. Equally, I was too close to the role, too involved and perhaps too blinded by my own familiarity that my thinking and judgement was clouded. Now, I appreciate this might sound like a rant but I need to vent, and I'm going to give myself permission to do so. One thing is for sure, it doesn't help when you have people around you waiting to point out your errors and make abrupt, oblique opinions whilst full of their own self-aggrandisement like over-inflated, self-adorned, strutting peacocks regardless of how effective they actually are. The most humble and revered are those who don't blow their own trumpet too loudly.


So, now I've moved on, I've been offered a job as a Waste Operative (Bin Man for those dragged up in the 70s) or as an individual working night shifts at a local hospital. So I've jumped at the opportunity to work in an industry in which I can hopefully be of real human use. I've had many other interviews, some would have taken me away from the home I'm feathering but more importantly from the children I'm fathering. What would you do, stay in the industry in which you have failed or look for security in an industry in which your skills might be beneficial?


Now, here's a thing, I've had to report a theft too. Shock horror! For the last three years I've been obliged to make do with a laptop with no memory and had to fund my own Microsoft Office use. Using my own personal zip-drive, my former employer has removed/lost/rubbished and restricted access to property that I left on site. It's just a zip-drive you might say but it contains well over 8 years of family memories from my children growing up. But despite repeated requests, emails and phone calls, no-one has the integrity or gumption to accept the responsibility for it's loss. I can't imagine for one minute Mr Wenger leaving Highbury without his scrapbook from 2003/2004.


Regardless of the future, every time I leave the house I will glance at my framed If poem in the hope that one day I might be a man, my son.


But, what of the 'club statement' the reasons behind my sudden departure from my previous employment, what would you surmise, a bitter ex-employee, an ineffectual manager or is there another take on it? Tin-openers at the ready.


By the way, I'm still biting off more than I can chew, planning on running the Ten in Ten in May, followed by the 262 in June and a few other things besides, any and all support would be gratefully received.



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