They say that football is a results-based business - and throughout the season, David Flitcroft didn’t shy away from the fact his players were on incentive based contracts.
So it’s stands to reason that he’d be on a similar deal.
But does a fourth placed finish and play-off semi-final defeat on penalties warrant Flitcroft’s departure?
The news has certainly rocked and divided the Stags faithful who are questioning the actions of Stags’ owner and chairman John Radford for the first time in nearly a decade at the club’s helm,
Personally I’m shocked.
If I were in John Radford’s position would I have sacked Flitcroft? Probably not as, judged solely on last season I think fourth is a respectable finish, having played the best brand of football for years, not to mention transferring players into sellable assets and rebuilding broken bridges between the first team and the academy.
However, I believe Radford has judged Flitcroft on the entirety of his tenure which, ultimately, is two failed attempts at promotion.
The first was after having just 12 games at the end of the 2017/18 campaign after Steve Evans quit, the second this season with his own team losing out on automatic promotion on the final day at MK Dons, losing their last three games of the campaign.
Looking at it in that light, you have to say the decision is just about justified, especially if, going back to the incentives, promotion is your job remit.
Do I think the Stags board should have stuck with Flitcroft? Yes. Personally I’d have factored in things such as injuries and the fact the play-offs are a lottery and said, we’ll go again next season under review – expecting to be in the top five at Christmas with a certain points target. The fact we now start a fresh manager has its pros and cons for sure, but today’s news just shows how ruthless football is.
I had planned out a whole blog about an inquest into the season’s failures, which would have included a paragraph or two about stability from top to bottom, using the likes of Lincoln, Luton and Accrington as firm examples.
What came of perhaps more of a shock in today’s news was the immediate appointment of John Dempster as the club’s new manager.
Dempster is a club icon for me who, on the pitch, was pivotal to promotion back into the Football League and, since hanging up his boots, has done an incredible job in restructuring the academy.
However, whilst I’m delighted to see him given a shot at first team management, I’m apprehensive and somewhat disappointed it comes where the pressure is more ‘into the inferno’ than ‘into the fire’.
Going back to Steve Evans’ departure, it was then that Dempster should have been handed the reins as he’d have gone in on the back of a phenomenal time with the academy and had pretty much nothing to lose. Had we finished in the play-offs then great, job done.
If not, it would not have been a problem to appoint a new manager to implement new ideas and tactics with his own squad whilst Dempster returned to the comfort of the academy.
Whilst Flitcroft did reshape and restructure, he already had a noose hanging loosely around his neck having drank from the poisoned chalice which awaited whoever followed Evans, which I believe now, has ultimately cost him his job.
Dempster will get my complete and utter backing as he should that all of Stags’ supporters.
But I’m under no illusions that he faces a tremendous challenge to decide which of the current crop he wants to keep and now has to rebuild and challenge for automatic promotion – because unless the board have done a complete U-turn in expectation.
It would be double standards to achieve anything less without the exact same consequences.
I would expect Dempster to also be tasked with giving more game time to the club’s younger crop of players, having coached and managed them so well through the academy process, which could go one of two ways really. I just hope it doesn’t end with it blowing up in our faces.
As many have said Football is so ruthless and it’s 100 per cent a results-based business.
If me or you weren’t reaching our targets in our jobs after a period of time, we’d be down the job centre too.
I would have liked to have seen Flitcroft given more time to continue to build, but the decision has been made.
To Flitcroft and his staff who follow him out of the door, thank you for your efforts and putting together a season which, whilst it ended poorly, as a whole was exciting to watch unfold and follow.
To John Dempster, the new manager of Mansfield Town – you know what promotion means to the supporters.
Go and deliver it and make a name for yourself in the world of senior management.
A former manager of yours once said that success is built on strong foundations and you’ve certainly laid some good ones so far.