Warren Joyce – Hobson’s Choice?

“We desperately need a full time, experienced manager – no doubt about it,” so said uncle Tom after the Brighton debacle. But do we get Neil Warnock, Mick Wadsworth or John Ward, someone who has seen it all and done it all at this level? No, we get Warren ‘one of the boys’ Joyce. While there can’t have been many City fans who were surprised by the appointment, I’m sure that there were many who, like myself, couldn’t help but feel disappointed. 

The appointment of Joyce has got to be seen as a gamble, but is it a gamble that we can afford to take? Adrift at the bottom of the league, we just do not have the breathing space that may be needed while Joyce learns his new trade.

It’s often said that it is harder at the bottom then at the top, and a relegation dogfight is not the ideal place for a manager to start his career. Look what happened to the last manager we had who had no previous experience to fall back on when the going got tough. Warren Joyce undoubtedly has many qualities, and he is certainly a fighter, but the cynics amongst us, OK me, will view Joyce has been the cheap option. It has to be said that with the continuing uncertainty about how much it will cost to pay off Mark Hateley, the club’s options were severely limited.

They probably couldn’t afford to pay the kind of salary that an established manager would be looking for, nor could they hope to attract another clubs manager, such as Scarborough’s Mick Wadsworth, as compensation payments would be out of the question. It is so much easier, and cheaper, to promote someone from within the club. So perhaps Warren Joyce was always the only real choice.

But will Joyce be able to get the best out of the team? The main concern has got to be that he is to close to the players. He has been a mate and one of the lads, but now he has to crack the whip. The players have said that they will play for Joyce, let’s hope that they do, because they certainly never played for Hateley. Bringing in John McGovern as assistant may be a good move by Joyce, perhaps McGovern will be the hard man of the partnership, but the duo will have to quickly find a formula to get the best out of the squad and any players that they bring in. They have started well, and at the cup tie with Salisbury they showed a refreshing wiliness to change things around. The team is in a rut and the dynamic duo have to try anything to get City winning again. The problem is time, or rather the lack of it.

Joyce’s appointment can, in many ways, be seen as a timid one, but in many respects it will be an excellent guideline as to the intentions and resources of the clubs new owners. If Joyce is given the money to bring in quality players, assuming that he can attract them in the first place, then all well and good. But if the manager is only allowed to bring in kids, or thirtysomething has-beens, then not only will his job be virtually impossible, but it will confirm that uncle Tom and his boys just do not possess the financial clout to successfully rebuild Hull City.

But hopefully the appointment of Joyce will be the catalyst for a revival that sees City storming up the table – 91st would do though. I sincerely hope that Warren becomes the best manager that City have ever had. And if he does then it will complete an amazing turnaround for a man who was once reviled by many on the terraces. Vilified by the fans for being Dolan’s poodle, his relationship with the fans reached an all time low with the infamous goal ‘celebration’ in front of an empty Kempton stand. It’s ironic that Dolan’s boy has outlasted the brave new world of Lloyd and Hateley. But it is testimony to the mans character and resolve that during Hateley’s reign, Joyce was undoubtedly Citys best and most consistent performer. Let’s hope that he brings the same level of performance to the managers job.

Good luck mate, you’re going to need it!

Craig Ellyard