Thursday, February 11, 2010

May Day

ex-Falkirk manager Eddie May, the Scottish Football BlogIf eyebrows were raised when Eddie May was appointed as Falkirk manager last summer there can have few gasps of surprise that has tenure has not lasted the full course of the SPL campaign.

Indeed the only shock might be that it has taken so long for the axe to fall.

This has been a desperate campaign for May and his players. 12 league defeats and only three wins mean bottom place has become the Bairns' natural playground.

Last night's defeat to Kilmarnock sent them crashing back down to earth after a win at Aberdeen had given hope and lifted them to the heady heights of eleventh place.

His final game seemed to sum up May's whole tenure: a meek capitualtion at home to relegation rivals hints at a team that finds itself powerless to halt the slide, of a manager who is unable to turn the tide.

Despite a long association with the club May has never seemed comfortable as manager. His coaching career has been spent doing solid work in the shadows, from the moment of an embarassing European exit to a team that seemed to define the term minnows he has looked uncomfortable in the limelight.

Falkirk have lost 14 players since John Hughes departed. Finances have dictated that they have not all been replaced and the players that have come in have not all been of a similar standard. All this from a squad that only narrowly avoided relegation last year. It would be understandable if May felt he could see the writing on the wall the moment he came to write down his first teamsheet.

A confidentiality agreement will likely deny us the chance to hear his true thoughts but it seems clear that he felt he was given assurances from the board that they failed to deliver on. The feeling that his hands were tied will have increased his unease in the role.

At times these frustrations have tumbled out - as seen by a series of digs at his predecessor, out of character outbursts that helped create an entirely erroneous impression of the man.

So the Falkirk is a hard job but not an impossible one for the right man.

Sadly Eddie May was the wrong man.

The very qualifications he brought to the job were part of the problem. As he left yesterday he said:
The Celtic match at Falkirk was a particular high for me as a manager, I was proud to manage the team which included 9 academy graduates.
Academy director and manager are very different roles. May might have known his players better than anyone but he may not have known how to handle them in his new role. They, in turn, might well have felt a confusion in reacting to a man who was so recently their mentor and was now their master.

The rudderless season they have endured points to these tensions remaining unresolved throughout the campaign.

Falkirk now have 15 games to save themselves. I'm sure, despite it all, Eddie May will be willing them on every step of the way.