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League Two

Sammy McIlroy's Blog 9

17 October 2012

Edgar Davids at Underhill? That's a link I never saw coming, I have to say.

My initial reaction to Barnet's decision to appoint the legendary Dutchman as their new joint head coach was one of surprise. It's a strange one. As a player you can't argue with his achievements at the highest level but, with all due respect, does he know anything about npower League 2, its players, the style, or their upcoming opponents? It's a very different type of football to what he's accustomed to.

With the Bees struggling at the foot of the division I wonder if the hype it's caused had an influence on the appointment. The fans will be excited, they'll be lifted, and so too might the players at the prospect of working with such a top name. It's a massive risk to expect him to cut his teeth in management at a level of football which is almost certainly alien to him though.

I don't ever think dual-management is the way to go either. It's never really worked in English football. In my view, players have to know who is picking the team, and who is making the big decisions. If players don't know that, and even the fans too, then it just causes confusion. If Edgar Davids and Mark Robson disagree on something, who has the final say?

I know it's only mid-October but Barnet are in dire straits. I wish them well with this new set-up but they've taken a real gamble.

As someone that knows Gareth Ainsworth pretty well I wouldn't say it was risky to appoint him as the new Wycombe Wanderers manager. He's got just the reaction he was looking for, and must be under serious consideration for the full-time role now.

I managed Gareth at Northwich Victoria in the Conference and he was a great lad to work with. I had him down the right, and Tony Hemmings on the left, and together they frightened the living daylights out of our opponents with their pace and unrelenting tenacity.

I remember saying to my assistant at the time that I thought Gareth Ainsworth would go on and play at higher levels because he was such a winner, always giving 100 per cent for the cause, and expecting it from his team-mates.

As a manager it's not always simple to transfer that enthusiasm and motivation to your players but it seems to me as if he's doing that pretty well at the moment. He's a fully committed man that possesses more than enough steel to succeed if he's given a crack at it.

Wycombe's latest win at Fleetwood Town was a brilliant result, and Gareth did it by dropping himself too, which shows he's got his head in the right place. Time will tell if he can maintain the momentum of course but he is looking the part.

AFC Wimbledon have taken the plunge on Neal Ardley as their new boss, and I really hope it works out well for them.

Neal's a club legend who will have the full backing of the fans, and you know that no one will be more determined to do everything right by the Dons than he will. It's a tough job for him mind you, as the team is in a sticky patch at the moment.

He's a coach that learned his trade in the academy system with Cardiff City, so he's already developed as a coach and knows his own style. It's not as if he's come in from the cold.

It's a different ball game managing kids in the academies and taking a proper team in the Football League, though. There's no pressure to get results at youth level, where developing talented players is the priority but at AFC Wimbledon it will all be about three points and winning matches. Knowing how to handle his new group of men, and influencing livelihoods will take some adjusting to, but I wish him lots of success in his new role.

Before I go I'd also like to congratulate Britt Assombalonga on his terrific start to the season at Southend United. His brace at Rotherham last weekend took him to nine goals and that's pretty good going for a raw 19-year-old loanee.

From what I gather, Assombalonga has the right attitude and is keen to improve his game every day and that's a great sign. He also has the right manager, and a former striker himself, Paul Sturrock to look after him.

It's no mean feat to stand out like he's doing, at his age, so Watford - and for the time being Southend - look to have a fine young prospect on their hands. If he can keep up his level of performance for another 10 or 20 games, he'll be the subject of a lot more interest.


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