Danny Wilson – a view from the darkside

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22nd February 2014

I have an admission to make and therefore you are all entitled to stop reading after the next sentence. I am a Blade. Sorry, it’s not my fault, it’s my great grandfathers. Like a gypsy he cursed my Dad. In turn, my Dad then passed the curse to me. I have to admit I have passed it on to my nine year old son. I am born and bred in Barnsley, went to school here (which admittedly was difficult as the only Blade) and continue to support them to this day.

Anyway, my past history is generally irrelevant however admitting to the above is a sensible lead in so you can see the angle I am coming from here. It is also important to point out I am a Red as well. Despite the multiple beatings at school (and once after leaving Oakwell) I want the team to do well and I’m proud of my home town.

When I was approached to write for WSB I jumped at the chance. I was going to write a different article but as chance would have it, Mr Wilson was reappointed at BFC and I thought my slant on him may be of interest. Read on, and you can be the judge.

When Danny took over at Bramall Lane there were protests outside the ground. An ex-Wednesday player and manager taking over here. Of all places. Unthinkable. Aside from the obvious conflict I was worried though. Aside from the outstanding promotion he achieved back in 1996/7 he hadn’t exactly set the world on fire at Bristol City, MK Dons or Hartlepool. Swindon was at best, a fair to average performance.

But to be fair he turned things around. We began to play attractive football. He somehow turned Ched Evans into a goal machine. We began to smoothly pass the ball across the defence and work angles to play off Evans’ runs. There was no more hoofing the ball forwards. After around 15 games the fans were beginning to change their opinion and the simple yet awesome chant of “There’s only one Danny Wilson, one Danny Wilson, he used to be shite, but now he’s alright. You-Nite-Ud.” began to ring around the ground. We were on the march and casting teams aside by two or three goal margins. By Christmas, we were top and on fire. We were definitely going up. The football was silky, intricate and clever.

And it was all down to Danny. His personable and honest approach had literally changed the culture at the club. It mattered not about his past. He was ours now. His footballing approach delighted the fans. More so his gentlemanly approach impressed everyone.

And then with three games left, Ched went to court. On the Friday he was sent down. We lost to MK Dons the next day and the bubble had burst. We were literally 8 inches away from promotion. Eight Ched inches. That season Danny led us to 27 victories, scoring 92 goals on the way. We came third with 90 points – pipped by Wednesday. Great. The play offs, as usual were an utter anti-climax, and a penalty loss left us back where we were. League One.

No one blamed Danny. By then we were all obsessed by him.

We went into the next season full of hope, and were doing pretty well. We were near top for the majority of the season but somehow we had lost direction. Everything was played at a much slower pace. Danny now seemed to want to squeeze out tedious 1-0’s instead of attacking teams. Even worse, we now seemed to play not to lose. The games became tedious and it seemed that Danny had now run out of ideas. We retained the ball but the passing was slow and directionless. Left back to centre back to right back to central midfield to left back. Yawn. The spirit was gone and it now seemed Danny’s lack of touchline passion was become irksome. In fifth place, with four games left Danny was inexplicably dispatched not being allowed to take us into the play-offs again, and Chris Morgan was brought in to assist in another failure.

So what about Danny?

The pro’s seem to be his approach, his relationship with the players (put an arm around them as opposed to throw things at them the Warnock way), his intention to play good football and stick to his principles. Swift, crisp passing, searching for gaps. For holes. And then, choosing the right time to make the killer pass. Similar to the way he was as a player.

The cons? Well, it appears that his approach is pretty one dimensional. Worse still he seems to be utterly inflexible. If the players aren’t good enough to play his style, he doesn’t appear to have any other tactics up his sleeve to change a game. I don’t remember a time when a tactical substitution paid off. I don’t remember a time in a game where we were evidently being overwhelmed when we suddenly switched to a different style to counteract the opposition. In fear of losing the players, dare I say it, Danny is well, just too nice.

I want the Reds to stay up this year and then next season build on it. Whether the simple introduction of man who gave the town the best season ever will be enough I don’t know. I certainly hope so.