The Thundercliffe Files: Jolley departs

Cod Almighty | Article

by Paul Thundercliffe

21 November 2019

Michael Jolley's tenure as manager and the manner of his departure divided opinion. What will be the judgment on his 71 games in charge?

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So farewell then Mr Jolley. Unveiled as Town's Bright New Thing to much fanfare amidst that early March snowfall of 2018, Michael leaves after 71 League games in charge.

I think I could count on one hand the games that really enthralled me, Town being pragmatic at best across his tenure. I don't feel Jolley ever settled truly on a style of play, a formation, a way of playing that suited him or the players in is charge.

There were glimpses of passing and movement, particularly when Embleton was the fulcrum last year, but even the most fervent supporters would agree that wins were ground out. Even the 5-2 win over Tranmere was not as one-sided as the scoreline suggested.

He obviously worked hard, was keen to ingratiate himself within the community and had an eye for a player. Whether he over-analysed, whether he over-compensated for the opposition or whether it was a little bit too Football Manager is open to debate. The glaring truth is that on the whole watching Town has been boring.
Every player brought back for corners. Three at the back. One up front at home. All to absolutely no effect. Changing teams at will, late substitutions and a penchant for passing around the defence all added to the air of mediocrity.

Little or nothing was gleaned in pre or post-match interviews, Jolley straight-batting most questions. One thing about Hurst was that he always saw the same game I saw – Jolley was myopic and unhelpful, giving the impression that he didn't really know what he was doing.

His legacy is the blooding of youth, the willingness to trust and develop home-grown players and we should be very grateful for that. Jolley tried to cement our identity, forge a bond and the bravery that goes with that decision-making shouldn't be dismissed.

The Humberside Tapes and subsequent public outing of his apparent disloyalty smudges further Jolley’s time at the club. It's an unfortunate smear because it tarnishes his time. Without that, who knows where we could have ended up if he had more time, more money and more experience.

Football clubs need stability, need long term planning and need a vision. We are in our fourth season back and about to appoint our fifth permanent manager.
Success takes time. Teams need to build and breathe. It can be no coincidence that the most recent longest serving spells as manager ended up with promotions for Buckley in his first spell and Hurst. In his first 71 games, Hurst won 28. Buckley 25. Jolley? 25. The saddest part of all of this is what could have been.