For most of us Chesterfield fans, it’s been hard saying goodbye to a man we labelled as one of our best managers of recent years, if not of all time.
In his two full seasons with the Spireites, he brought about a League Two title, a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final at Wembley, a League One play-off place the following season and, most importantly from my perspective, a team that plays football how we want it to be played. What more could you ask from any manager?
Now that Cook is gone, along with his assistant, Chesterfield need to make sure that their wheels don’t fall off; a vast percentage of fans fear the worst, and so do pundits. The appointment of Dean Saunders was a catalyst for the growth of anger amongst supporters.
But why should we be writing off Saunders? What right do we possess to dismiss him before he has even had the opportunity to prove his worth? None is what I say.
I rightly recall that the appointment of Paul Cook back in 2012 also sparked unrest across social media.
Funnily enough, this was almost exactly the same situation; a manager from a lower down club who is yet to be a proven success.
Cook’s win percentage at Accrington was, in fact, lower than Saunders’ at Crawley. Of course, that is not a firm enough basis to hire a manager with.
The most popular argument against Saunders’ appointment was definitely his relegation record, which stands at three in four seasons. However, there is more than meets the eye.
Saunders revealed that he joined relegation-threatened teams knowing that there was a risk of dropping down a division.
After being relegated with Doncaster Rovers, he built a squad which led the way in League One under his guidance, before struggling Wolves called for his aid in the Championship.
Doncaster went on to win the league that season. When he joined Wolves, he was the fourth manager to take the reins that same season. Wolves were destined to go down.
His third relegation, with Crawley, was similar. He joined half way through the season knowing the risks.
Crawley fans actually praised him for his efforts, and wanted him to stay on as manager.
I think that too many people have not looked deep enough to understand why his record is as poor as it is.
In fact, if you look close enough, both of the times that he has had a pre-season to prepare, he has brought success; that being a Conference play-off place with Wrexham and a league title Doncaster.
Although everyone’s favourite fitness coach, Shane Nicholson, has been relieved of his duties, there are positives thoughts to be had. I was delighted to see goalkeeping coach Mark Crossley returning to the Proact; surely that must have brought smiles all around! It certainly did with Tommy Lee. Saunders also seems determined to keep his key players, including Talbot and Ryan who may be leaving due to expired contracts. My most important message to all Spireites is that not all is lost, and we shouldn’t fear the worst so soon.
Saunders may not be the somewhat verbose man that Paul Cook is, but he could be the man to lead this club to further heights. There are four magic words that supporters will need in these times of distress, and they are: in Saunders I trust!