COLUMN: Method in the madness as Martin Allen begins to take care of business
Spireites fans appear to be falling in love with the way Martin Allen intends to take care of business.
Just a week into his tenure, the man known to some as Mad Dog has attracted a fair bit of attention from fans both in Chesterfield and around the country thanks to his quirky way of announcing news.
Allen has announced player arrivals, the transfer listing of Kristian Dennis and a cull of contracted players with statements written in the first person.
Each of the press releases begin with a cordial greeting, depending on the time of day they hit the web.
What follows is a brief, to-the-point statement, and then what is quickly becoming Allen’s trademark sign-off: “Take care, Martin.”
Whether or not the Town boss intended them to be humorous, the way in which football supporters have become accustomed to reading club news makes them so.
It’s the brevity.
No more information than is strictly required.
Good evening, we’ve signed this player, he’ll do well for us, take care, Martin.
It’s the Dennis Waterman approach to football club updates – star in the show, sing the theme tune.
But it’s going down remarkably well.
For a fanbase who have lost touch with the people working at their club, these statements speak directly to them.
It’s a personal touch, a message from the gaffer himself in his own words to the ticket-buying public.
It’s certainly endearing Allen to those who so often have a say in how life goes at the Proact for the man in the dugout.
The line about Michael Nelson being ‘very old’ was genuinely one of the funniest things I’ve read in football, ever.
Social media’s ‘football banter’ accounts have pounced on the statements with glee, perhaps rightly so, given the stark contrast between them and the ‘norm.’
Beyond the hilarity however, there might be some method in the madness.
There’s so little pomp and ceremony about these signings, they lack the usual fanfare that comes from clubs when they bring in new players.
All too often in the past few years players at this club have not lived up to the fanfare or the hype.
In a world of teasing tweets and cringeworthy, ever-more-elaborate signing announcement videos, it’s quite refreshing.
Maybe the understated tone of Allen’s notes will strike more of a chord with fans who have understandably become sceptical by nature.
They’re also a vehicle Allen can use to drive home the message that things are going to be done differently, they’re going to be done his way.
They say new managers and even caretaker managers should make subtle but noticeable changes when they take charge at a club, so people can see they’re making an impact, they have their own ideas.
Writing your own press releases might not be so subtle, but they get the point across – I’m in charge here and this is what is happening.
This is a new era and Allen has not let the grass grow under his feet at all since he rocked up at the Proact with his backroom staff in tow.
The rapid fire release of news on the club website proves that.
Allen is evidently a decisive man.
At Barnet last season, he took one look at the squad, decreed that it was bloated and cut it right down.
One of the first things he did upon his arrival at the Proact was to make it known there were too many players on the books, before telling 10 of those on contracts they were free to find new employers.
Whether or not he knows how to get this club back out of non-league will become evident in due course, but he clearly knows his own mind.
New faces were needed and in one day, three appeared – bang, bang, bang.
Supporters, journalists, players and even the club’s owner recognised collectively that experience was lacking last season and by the looks of Allen’s first hat-trick of signings, it won’t be in 2018/19.
Shwan Jalal has been there and done it, Sam Wedgbury was a promotion winner in 2016/17 with Forest Green and has been around a bit and Michael Nelson is, in the words of his boss ‘very old.’
Nelson too knows what it’s like to win promotion and will bring leadership to the Proact.
Already, Allen is building a picture of the kind of character he wants this team to have.
Lessons have been learnt in these parts – no one will get too excited about any new signings until they’ve banished the stench of regular defeat from the Proact Stadium.
But in the meantime, we can all wait with baited breath for the next club statement.