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NLP Column – 23rd August 2016

This week’s NLP programme column, below written by Steven Coney.

WE’RE less than a month into the new Non-League season and already some managers have had to take a glance over ther shoulder – while two have had to clean their desks just weeks after the campaign started.

I’ve written articles in the past, looking at the ridiculously short amount of time that is afforded to bosses in the Football League.

Up until recently it was a widely held view that Non-League chairmen were far more patient and retained a sense of reality that seems to be missing higher up the divisions as big money becomes more of a factor.

Well, we’re not even out of August and two National League clubs have already decided changes were needed in the dugout.

Chris Todd was the first to go at Eastleigh while he was followed at the start of this week by Guiseley’s Mark Bower.

Todd wasn’t a surprising one. Not because he had done a bad job, he had steadied the ship after Richard Hill’s departure and led the club to a seventh place finish last term.

Of course, Eastleigh want, and should expect, the play-offs. They’ve got one of the heftiest budgets in the division and a squad full of quality and experience.

Maybe it just wasn’t the right job for Todd. The likeable Welshman understandably took the chance with both hands but rookie boss and expectant owner rarely mix well.

Stewart Donald has transformed the Spitfires and wants to see the club in the Football League. He has invested large sums so who are we to criticise his decision?

Four points from their opening four games was seen as below par and Todd was replaced by ex-Rotherham, Tranmere and Hartlepool boss Ronnie Moore.

While Moore might turn out to be the perfect appointment – I wouldn’t be surprised – you’ve got to feel for Todd.

“Returns in football are based on league points and we’ve just not been earning enough to give us that two points-a-game average we need for promotion,” said Eastleigh chief executive Mark Jewell.

“I know we’ll probably get criticism saying it’s madness to change the manager after four games, but it’s not just about this season, we’ve done the analysis on our points return over a period of time.”

The big question has to be, if Todd wasn’t the right man four games into the season – was he really the right man at the start of the season or even the end of the last campaign? If not, why let him spend a summer recruiting a number of new players?

The same can be asked of Bower – who led Guiseley to promotion to Non-League’s top tier in 2014-15 before narrowly avoiding relegation last season.

Yes, the Lions had lost their opening five games, the most recent a disappointing collapse at Solihull Moors, but there are 41 matches left.

“We have had some tough early days and when you are playing full-time sides, it is tough,” said Guiseley chairman Phil Rogerson.

“But in the last two games, we were against newly promoted sides and we felt that we should have made more of that.

“After being 2-1 up and throwing it away in a five-minute spell (at Solihull on Saturday), something must have been wrong somewhere. Hopefully, we will now be able to fix it.”

So Bower’s almost three-year reign that included an elusive promotion from the Conference North was ended after a dodgy five-minute spell – welcome to the cut-throat business of being a Non-League manager!

Published by Russell Eynon