So what now for The Special One? Our Special One.
Let us not forget what Jim Smith achieved for the club; from lower league humdrum to the top division in three years. The Milk Cup win was the pinnacle, but Smith also put in place a foundation which kept the club in the top two divisions for fifteen years. This legacy must be kept in tact. He is, and always will be, our special one.
Right back at the start of Smith’s reign in the early 80s, when it became clear that Keith Cassells wasn’t going to make it at Southampton, speculation grew that he might come back to Oxford. Smith dismissed the rumour saying that a player should never go back to a club where he was successful.
This is not advice Jim has taken himself, of course, though may be should have. Defeat to Histon, who are not only practically a village team, but are a village team whose preparation for Thursday’s game was to play on Tuesday. That’s just plain and simple failure.
Stuttering form has turned into bad form, and with everything going so flat it’s difficult to see where the impetus from any improvement is going to come from.
So now what? Wait until the Twigglet and Willmott return to give us goals and a defence? Perhaps. But does a team at this level need a manager or do they really need a coach? Smith is a manager through and through. Managers motivate, through praise and criticism, they persuade players to join, they provide an environment in which players can play. Coaches, however, teach players to play. We may think that we’re beyond all that, but maybe we need to get back to basics.
This would lend itself to the conclusion that Smith should move upstairs with Darren Patterson moving into his place. Jim’s relationship with Nick Merry may see him stay, but anything other than a positive result against Salisbury next Tuesday will surely see his position become untenable.