Alternative Alf Garnett: Lawrie Sanchez goes to Barnet

As the temperature drops on the drunks out in Clapham
I turn on my bx and it’s like punk never happened
The community’s charged up and the West End’s alight
And it’s Jimmy Bloody Tarbuck on a Saturday night

And I’m sick to the back teeth, frony teeth and tonsils
Of hit making factories and kids niffing Ronseal
The run down, the hard up and the national health
And it’s Jimmy Bloody Tarbuck on a Sunday as well

Friends, Romans, country fans
If you’re happpy and you know it
You can clap your hands and say yeah!

Yes sir no sir three bags full of newspaper
Sleeping by the greengrocers over by the undertakers
Died in a house fire mummy was at the bakers
Buying broken biscuits, digestives and iced wafers
I’ve broken my dentures, got senile dementure
And I’m losing my barnet
I’m an alternative Alf Garnett

(Carter USM – Alternative Alf Garnett)

Lawrie Sanchez’s ongoing search for gainful employment is over, at least temporarily. He has bounced around the periphery of the football media world, popping up on TalkSport, Radio 5 and the occasional TV spot, but it’s fair to say that the offers haven’t been rolling in.

It’s another example of the perils of ambition. Sanchez had an amazing thing going with Northern Ireland, galvanising what everyone had assumed to be a very ordinary squad into a side that was capable of upsetting some much more fancied opposition (including the always mighty England, slain by the deadly boot of David Healy).

The word is that Fulham got Sanchez after initially asking after Sven: their shared agent pointed out how well Northern Ireland were doing and wouldn’t that be just the job for Fulham under the circumstances, and the rest was very nearly history.  For Sanchez the gamble was presumably one he felt he had to take (see Hodgson/Liverpool), but in retrospect he might have been better off staying where he was (ditto). The Northern Ireland gig was going well, he had time on his hands (being an international manager must rule!) and a growing reputation. He didn’t need to change anything.

He was lured into taking something bigger than himself, and I suspect realised this quite quickly. The talk of him being arrogant must have had a grain of truth to it, but equally, may have missed the mark, arrogance being what you see when insecurity meets stress. Sanchez was faced with a big situation in which he was employed to be the big man; of course he was going to do all he could to play the part.

In life we spend years trying to be things we’re not before realising that we might as well be ourselves. Marilyn Monroe could pull of the Marilyn Monroe thing because of who she was; thousands of others couldn’t because they lacked that hard-earned inner depth. The same obviously applies to Kurt Cobain of Nirvana: anyone can try to do what he did, only Cobain could scream from the very depths of his being and transmit it onto record in a fashion that made people want to listen. The imitators look cheap, fake, unbelievable.

So it was with Sanchez, a man who had it in him to be a good football manager, but who  – to my mind – didn’t have the inner strength (or ability to organise a defence) to pull it off.  (Look at Sir Alex Ferguson: that’s not a man who needs to be liked). Intellectually Sanchez might have been fine: he was open-minded, and like Sam Allardyce, interested in any new idea that might give him and his team an edge. Otherwise, not so much: had Sanchez got a good start with Fulham I suspect he’d have had a decent run; he didn’t, and he didn’t.

He sounded bitter about this from the moment he lost his job, and his interviews even recently have had the same undertones: “listen to me! I know football! I know football as well as 90% of the people with jobs! Why does nobody understand this!” And he probably had a point. His record with Northern Ireland should probably have earned him another go somewhere. Turns out he’s going to be at Barnet, where failure in the Premier League might be seen as a good thing: at least he’s been there.

It might not work, but you can bet that he’ll be out on the training pitch on day one with tales of how his teams have beaten the odds, won games they had no right to win, and so Barnet really have nothing to fear.  Working in League Two he might feel like the legitimate big man he needs to be.  He might come across as arrogant.  Or it might work, and Barnet might get out of the relegation zone.  Looking at their results there seems to be something to work with, although the scores below suggest a defence every bit as porous as the one Roy Hodgson had to mend after Sanchez left Fulham.

As ever, interesting stuff.

Sat 1     15:00    H    Aldershot Town     FL2     L      1-2    1,902
Mon 3     15:00    A    Stevenage     FL2     L      2-3    3,744
Sat 8     15:00    A    Bradford City     FL2     W      3-1    10,514
Sat 15     15:00    H    Shrewsbury     FL2     D      1-1    2,164
Sat 22     15:00    A    Macclesfield     FL2     D      1-1    1,655
Tue 25     19:45    A    Port Vale     FL2     D      0-0    4,112
Sat 29     15:00    H    Southend     FL2     L      0-2    2,867
Sat 5     15:00    A    Northampton     FL2     D      0-0    4,573
Sat 12     15:00    H    Torquay United     FL2     L      0-3    2,168
Sat 19     15:00    A    Cheltenham     FL2     D      1-1    2,926
Tue 22     19:45    A    Southend     FL2     L      1-2    5,501
Sat 26     15:00    H    Lincoln City     FL2     W      4-1    2,226
Sat 5     15:00    A    Rotherham     FL2     D      0-0    3,566
Tue 8     19:45    H    Wycombe     FL2     L      0-1    1,520
Sat 12     15:00    A    Hereford     FL2     W      2-1    2,517
Sat 19     15:00    H    Morecambe     FL2     L      1-2    2,510
Tue 22     19:45    A    Aldershot Town     FL2     L      0-1    2,420
Sat 26     18:00    H    Chesterfield     FL2     D      2-2    2,012
Sat 2     15:00    A    Burton     FL2     W      4-1    2,774
Sat 9     15:00    H    Crewe     FL2     W      2-1    2,212
Sat 16     15:00    A    Bury     FL2     L      0-2    3,082

5 thoughts on “Alternative Alf Garnett: Lawrie Sanchez goes to Barnet

  1. The thing that I never understood about Sanchez was that when he came in we looked no better then under Coleman, there was no ‘new manager bump’ and we just, just, stayed in the prem – yet he was given the job and full financial backing in the summer.

    I could subscribe to the idea that he should have been given a chance, but the fact that Fulham showed so little improvement was setting off alarm bells in my head at the time. In particular our 3-1 loss to Middlesborough stands out because the players put in zero effort, rather than trying to impress the new manager. Would Fulham have anything to lose by looking around the managerial talent pool that summer?

    Its all rather academic now, we ended up with Hodgson and the success that came with it, but I do wonder how things could have been different if it had been a thanks, but no thanks, to Mr.Sanchez in the summer that year..

    1. There’s an alternative universe though where Sanchez had the luck, McBride stayed fit, we stayed above the relegation zone and he grew into the job.

      Most managers fail though and those that don’t ultimately succeed because they have tactical nous and good leadership/man management skills. That’s the cream that rises to the top.

      Others wing it for a while before being found out. Coleman managed 4 years and Sanchez barely 4 months. Could easily have been the other way round.

      Major factors in getting jobs after failure are likeability and plausability. Bryan Robson and Paul Jewell score heavily there whereas Lawrie does not.

      1. The people at the helm of the club have a lot to answer for over why Sanchez was employed. They were just plain lazy and complacent- they couldn’t be bothered with the fag of having to interview and select new applicants so he got the job on the back of a really lucky victory over liverpools 3rd team. Imagine if we had needed points from that last game at Middlesborough?
        Surely there would have been interest from some pretty high level applicants in rebuilding with the money that was made available to Sanchez.

        1. I think there’s a lot of hindsight and supposition in that.

          The Middlesborough game didn’t matter and my supposition (worth no more than yours)is that Sanchez impressed those running the club.

          They, of course, had no way of knowing how things were going to pan out next season but they trusted him to spend big and that’s not laziness, it’s trust. Misguided, of course, as it turned out.

  2. With Sanchez his system was paramount, but he failed to sign the right type of player to execute it. Instead of the big physical specimens he needed, we got Baird, Hughes, Stefanovic, Konchesky, Steven Davis, Murphy, Seol Ki-Hyeon, Bouazza, Cook, Kamara and Healy. Hardly the collection of giants and hard men which Tony Pulis has used to turn Stoke City into the successful, if unloved personification of what Sanchez was trying to build at Fulham.

    Ironically four of that list went on to do well under Roy Hodgson, and I gather Davis has done well at Rangers, but the others belied Sanchez’s conviction that a well drilled system could enable Championship players to shine in the Premier League. True he was unlucky to lose McBride so early in the season and was not helped by Bullard’s return from injury taking longer than expected, but for someone who appeared convinced that he could outthink his opponents his legacy at Fulham suggests the opposite.

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