CHESTER will begin a new era today with Marcus Bignot tasked with turning around the club’s fortunes on the pitch.
Make no bones about it, this is the biggest decision the board, led by chief executive Mark Maguire, have had to make since reforming in 2010.
A shortlist of around 10 candidates were interviewed earlier this week, with names including Ronnie Moore, Richard Money, Kevin Nicholson, Paul Carden and Kevin Davies all understood to have made their case for the vacancy, but the 43-year-old former Solihull Moors boss ‘blew away’ the board with his interview and landed the role, five months after being dismissed by League Two side Grimsby Town.
An abysmal sequence of results, which began with back-to-back defeats against Solihull last Christmas, dwindling attendances and an impending relegation battle has led to real disconnect between supporters and their football club, which let’s not forget is fan-owned.
Bignot has to have both a short-term rescue plan as well as a long-term vision for the football club.
Eight points from a possible 33 so far this season isn’t yet a disaster, but it will turn into one if results don’t pick up – immediately.
Top of that short-term agenda is to put a halt to a club-record run of 16 home matches without a victory. Certain Blues fans, who are unable to travel to away games, haven’t seen their team win since December 17.
It’s a mind-boggling winless streak which has led to angst among sections of the Blues support.
Some feel the club are further away from a Football League return now than they did when Neil Young’s team were surging up through the lower divisions. That simply shouldn’t be the case.
This weekend’s home clash with Maidenhead is the chance to start putting that right.
A culture of acceptance has taken hold amongst sections of Chester’s first-team squad and that must be eradicated by the new man at the helm.
This stems from the recent reign of Jon McCarthy, who never criticised his players publicly, despite some woefully inadequate displays towards the back end of last season.
Thrashings at Sutton and Maidstone were met with excuses regarding injuries, artificial pitches, too many matches in a short space of time, a lack of squad depth. All the former manager really needed to say was his players hadn’t performed for him.
Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing at Dover Athletic perfectly highlighted the huge task in hand for Bignot.
For an hour, Chester were competitive, without ever truly threatening the Dover goal. But in a flash, Chris Kinnear’s Dover went 2-0 up and the Blues seemed to throw in the towel.
Chester is a proud football club and has huge potential for the right man.
The fans who used to pack into the Deva in the not too distant past are still out there. Attracting them back to watch the Blues is the challenge, and producing winning football will help solve that.
See full story in the Chester Leader