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League Two

Sammy McIlroy's Blog 8

10 October 2012

It was a good weekend in terms of results for two of npower League 2's caretaker managers and when you are hoping to earn yourself a permanent contract, you can do no more than win matches and hope to persuade the owner or the board that you're the right man for the job.

I'm talking about Simon Bassey, whose AFC Wimbledon side won 2-1 at Plymouth Argyle, and Tommy Wright, whose Chesterfield team beat Aldershot Town at the Recreation Ground. Neither is guaranteed to get the nod but they certainly won't have done their chances any harm with their respective victories away from home.

Simon has won two of his four games since taking over from Terry Brown in September. It's not world beating form but the Dons were in a rut and personally I'd argue he has to be in real contention now. He knows the club, the players know him and the early signs show that Wimbledon are starting to turn the corner.

It was back in August when Tommy was brought in to replace John Sheridan and his record of just one defeat - a 2-0 loss at Morecambe earlier this month - speaks for itself. He's already served a long trial period and I hope the Spireites don't leave it too long to come to a decision about the manager's position.

Players love certainty, they hate reading speculation in the media and they thrive on continuity. Tommy's done a great job so far and you've got to think he could do even better if he was confirmed as full-time boss. There's nothing wrong with a club showing a bit of patience when looking for a new manager but there's also a danger of leaving it too late as well.

The win at Aldershot was great news for Chesterfield but the home fans booed their team off at the final whistle, which is a worrying development for Dean Holdsworth as he tries to drag his side up the table.

It's a horrible experience for everyone connected with the club when your own fans react like that but I'm from the school of thought that says it's the team's job to get the crowd going rather than the other way round. Fans at every level of football are fickle but as much as it can have a negative impact on the players, they have every right to express themselves.

My mantra for home games at Morecambe was to give the crowd something to get them off their seats. Shots on goal, big tackles, crosses and a high tempo are what gets fans excited and vocal and I told my players they could never afford to wait for the crowd to wake up. It was their job to wake them up.

Aldershot are under the cosh at the moment but I've no doubt Dean Holdsworth will keep reminding his players that two wins could transform their season and they could suddenly find themselves sitting pretty in mid-table.

The game of the weekend had to be Dagenham and Redbridge's 4-3 win over Bradford City at Victoria Road. It was three very welcome points for the Daggers but having gone 3-0 up, I'm sure John Still had mixed feelings at the final whistle and was asking his players why there had to be so much drama at the end.

Those sort of games really do annoy managers. John's heart must have been racing at 100mph in the final few minutes and while it was ultimately a great result against an in-form Bantams side, he will not have been happy with the way his team almost threw it away. It really does take the gloss off the result.

This week sees the second round matches in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy which, depending on your point of view, provides a distraction from League football and a possible route to Wembley or is an unwelcome extra game which stretches resources.

I have to admit I wasn't a great fan of the tournament in my first couple of year at Morecambe but that changed in the 2007/08 season when we enjoyed a good run in the competition and made it to the Northern Area Final. We lost 1-0 on aggregate to Grimsby Town and missed out on a day out at Wembley but it was a great experience for the players and the supporters.

The critics of course will argue it's not a priority for most clubs but that doesn't necessarily mean it's not a valuable exercise. There is the chance to play at Wembley and the rule that states at least six regular first-team players must be involved gives the competition real credibility while still giving managers the freedom to give some youngsters some experience.

It's a fact of life that League football will always be the bread and butter for clubs at any level but that doesn't mean there isn't a place for cup competitions.

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