Club talk

Clowntime is over…and it’s no laughing matter for Scott Morgan

Clowntime is over, time to take cover
While others just talk and talk
Somebody’s watching where the others don’t walk
Clowntime is over

A voice in the shadows
Says that his men know
He don’t step back as expected
He’s otherwise and unprotected

Elvis Costello – Clowntime is Over

I really wanted Scott Morgan to succeed in his role as Head of Rugby. I’ve said so on many occasions this season.

That he didn’t is a huge disappointment.

Unfortunately, with results continuing to go against a Coventry side short in confidence and consistently failing to perform against the top 8 or 9 teams in the league, the decision to appoint a new Director of Rugby for 2016/17 whilst premature, was beginning to look inevitable.

As the man ultimately responsible for what happens on the pitch, the buck rightly has to stop with Scott, much as it grieves me to say it.

But I can’t help feeling that, as things presently stand, he has been made something of a fall guy.

I don’t know Scott Morgan but he strikes me as an honourable person…someone who would have fallen on his sword rather than have it thrust between his shoulder blades as seems to have been the case, looking from the outside in.

Earlier in the season, following comments on the underperformance of the squad from supporters and elsewhere, Jon Sharp was keen to point out that he, Phil Maynard and Scott Morgan all had to share responsibility for the recruitment of players pre-season and the fact that squad hadn’t delivered the performances required.

We were led to believe that Phil Maynard’s move to General Manager was partly to enable Scott to take over ‘full responsibility for all aspects of the playing side’. Without an explanation from the Board, the suggestion was that Scott could do a better job on his own than with Phil alongside him…at least that was my interpretation, rightly or wrongly. Plus, of course, Phil could spend time developing business  and commercial links in order to create additional revenue streams to develop the Butts further, hopefully generating extra income to supplement the playing budget.

However, I can’t help but think that Phil was very fortunate indeed to have been moved away from the playing side of things so shortly before the appointment of Rowland Winter. Phil’s influence on the team, from it’s selection to the game plan for individual matches was evident right up to the announcement of the backroom shuffle back on 11th December and indeed, it was Phil rather than Scott who tended to speak to the media in the pre-match build up. Yet he appears to have been totally absolved from responsibility for what has happened this season.

I’m sure Phil will have been uncomfortable with the way things have been handled.

He was heavily involved in the recruitment of players, and in the decisions affecting the team in the poor run leading up to Scott’s appointment. I can’t help but feel that by moving Phil sideways when he did, Jon Sharp was inadvertently hanging Scott out to dry…or at least that’s how it’s turned out.

Or was Scott the sacrificial lamb…???

By the time Scott was appointed to the position of Head of Rugby, Coventry’s failings were already all too evident and with so many players injured and or unavailable, Scott was never going to be able to turn things around in just a handful of games…it was going to have to be more of a long term solution than a short term quick fix. 

And how long did the Board give Scott to changes the team’s fortunes around?

In theory, 6 games.

Just six games before Rowland Winter’s appointment was announced.

But Scott maintains he had ‘got wind’ of it two weeks prior to that – or effectively three games into that 6 game run. And with discussions clearly having taken place before Scott heard of it, then the reality would seem to be that the Board were already deciding to look elsewhere even before Scott Morgan’s position of Head of Rugby was announced publicly.

If that is the case, or if it’s even close to the reality of it, then the Board should feel extremely embarrassed by their actions, actions which reek of impropriety.

Scott had been honest about his need to spend time developing his own business and so being unable to commit himself to a full-time role within the club, so that can hardly be used as an excuse to appoint Rowland Winter as this stage of the season.

In a Coventry Telegraph article following the news of Rowland Winter’s appointment, Scott said:

I love the club, I feel passionate about it, and when they asked me in December to be Head of Rugby, I happily said I would give it a go….I didn’t need to be put in this position

and:

Why on earth move Phil Maynard to a management role and ask me to be head of rugby in the second week of December and do this just before Christmas?

Coventry Telegraph – Scott Morgan Interview: Jan 2016

He should have been given more time. That’s all I’m saying.

The likelihood is that results wouldn’t have improved enough over the rest of the season and, come April, Scott might well not have been in post. But at least it wouldn’t have been a fait accompli, and Scott would have had a chance to prove himself before the swords were out.

As it is, they hadn’t even been sharpened before they appeared.

Being generous to the Board, even if they hadn’t made any decision to appoint a new Director of Rugby before the backroom shuffle, the longest they can have given Scott is two weeks before doing so.

Maybe I’m of the old school and expect things to be done a little more courteously, but the whole things seems shocking to me. This is someone who learned of the decision to appoint someone else via a ‘lunchtime phone call’, presumably done hastily to prevent the media getting hold of the news before Scott did, which was a very real possibility by all accounts.

He deserved better.

He deserves better.

I hope someone from the Board has had the grace to apologise to Scott and explain why things happened as they did – if there is an acceptable explanation of course. I thought Scott gave a ‘ballsy’ interview to the Coventry telegraph a couple of weeks ago, showing his loyalty to the club and to the players, but being prepared to be critical of the Board, questioning  why his and Phil Maynard’s roles were redefined in the shuffle and why the Board hadn’t got the decency to speak to him before-hand about Winter’s appointment.

It was a dignified response to an undignified series of actions from the Board. Shame on them.

And given such alacrity in the announcement of the decision, did all the Board know about it and were they all in agreement – it would be interesting to see the minutes of the last meeting prior to this announcement.

It might well prove to be the right decision in the long run. It might be that Rowland Winter is another Steve Williams and he’ll turn the club around and make them the Championship chasing side we all want them to be. But there are ways of doing things, and it seems to me Coventry have sold a little of their soul to the corporate devils these last few weeks.

Should we be surprised?

Yes we should.

Even despite the dearth of communication that’s been such a concern to many supporters this season, the lack of respect shown to Scott is something that does truly surprise me. There are ways of doing things, and with all its history and with all its traditions, Coventry should know this better than most clubs. Hasty phone calls during lunch hours simply to avoid media speculation doesn’t strike me as being the ‘Cov’ way…

…sorry, but that’s how it seems to me…

I’d like to see Scott stay because Cov need people of his moral calibre, the kind of integrity demonstrated here :

‘Yes, I’ve been paid, but when I cam to the club it wasn’t at the going rate for my experience, and then becoming captain, head coach and head of rugby, I’ve not taken a penny more for any of those’

How different that is to the profit driven plans for redevelopment of the Butts detailed prior to Christmas, with the overarching aim of increasing:

revenue by developing non-rugby activities at Butts Park, building on its growing conference and events business

How different and how refreshing. But maybe Scott won’t want to travel the distance he does, to work with the club he loves, if he feels that he’s not respected by those who employ him any longer.

And who could blame him?

And that begs another interesting question…the new head coach has a clear brief to ‘recruit players and build the structures necessary for next season’. Leaving aside the recruitment of players, how do the present coaches fit into Winter’s vision for next season?

By my reckoning, there are currently 6 coaches at Coventry – Dave Addleton, Paul Hardcourt, Peter Glackin, Scott Hamilton, Scott Morgan, Rob Norman (and without including Barry Evans)…presumably, Winter will want to bring in at least one or two of his own as well.

Something will have to give.

Faces very familiar to Coventry supporters over a good many years might well be looking elsewhere for employment come the end of the season. It remains to be seen just how sharp the sword is that Winter wields in April.

I just hope it’s a little more visible than that used to sever Scott Morgan from his post as Head of Rugby.

Clowntime really is over…it has to be for the sake of everyone involved with Coventry RFC.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I guess much of this has already been said, something I apologise for, but having been in absentia for a couple of weeks I wanted to add my voice to those supporters who have already expressed their misgivings over the manner in which Scott’s removal from the post of Head of Rugby has been handled…

…certainly not one of Coventry’s finest hours, all in all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories:Club talk

4 replies »

  1. I agree that the way the Club have handled the negotiation and recruitment of the new DOR was very poor with regard to SM being ‘left out of the loop’ – but the fact is that if the team were performing on the pitch and near the top of the league this situation wouldn’t be arising the way it has. The Club need to explain their position better and their reasoning for the timing of the appointment, was the new DOR an opportunity too good to miss? As Charlie Rich sang, ” no-one knows what goes on behind closed doors”. The Telegraph article with SM was a good bit of PR (from comments I’ve seen) for himself and a slight distraction from the poor performances on the field, but to me the article seemed a bit ‘cringeworthy’ with SM throwing his teddies out of the pram somewhat.

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    • Hi Warren…love the Charlie Rich reference. I think everyone should add a song title that’s relevant to their comment…it makes the comments far more entertaining than the posts. Interestingly, Rich had a minor hit, I think, with a song entitled ‘Who will the nest fool be?’!!!
      I liked the fact that Morgan spoke from the heart and was prepared to be critical of the handling of the appointment. Much better that than hide his feelings and let us presume all is hunk dory, but I guess that’s just one interpretation. Always prefer a bit of feistiness in a coach/manager…

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  2. As you have stated Tim, many comments have been made on the handling of this situation, Scott was obviously angry at the way it was handled and the fact that there was a possible maximum “two week window” when this new role was identified after appointing Scott does tend to leave a sour taste.The question is, is Scott’s position now untenable? Will he leave, i think my first reaction is that he will, but that may not be the case, could it be feasible that he could actually work with the new guy in his current role, after all he has not said that he is leaving, only the fact that he is disappointed with the way it was handled. Nevertheless i do agree that many changes will be made in the next few months, both in coaching staff and players, hopefully it will work out for the best, long term for the Club, but at present you can’t help feel that there is something unbecoming of decency towards Scott and indeed the fans of the club who in general this season have been treated with disdain.

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    • Funnily enough I’ve planned to write a post for tomorrow about the club’s relationship with it’s supporters. It might make interesting reading for some! As for Scott, I’m not sure he’ll want to play second fiddle to Winter especially given all the travelling etc involved in working at Cov. In many ways, I think he’d be better of taking up the role of head coach somewhere closer to home and down a level, where there isn’t quite so much pressure on him on or off the pitch. I think he’ll do a good job for a chairman who is willing to give him the opportunity he needs and deserves.

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