Fans voice disapproval too prematurely as manager begins new cycle at Exeter
If ever I am in need of a light-hearted moment and need cheering up, then the forum on the independent fans' website Exeweb usually provides one. These past few weeks have been no exception.
Exeweb provides the ideal platform for disgruntled supporters to vent their frustrations at all things City behind the relative safety and secrecy of a poster's pseudonym and some of the comments are, quite frankly, laughable.
It seems there are a few dissenters within the ranks, but there is nothing new there. Quite why is something I find hard to fathom. Under the current guise and managership, Exeter have enjoyed unprecedented success, even if the last 18 months have not gone quite to plan.
Of course, there is the argument that you cannot live off past glories. I mean, there are plenty of football fans tired of Liverpool supporters' claims that they have won five European Cups when the current Reds are nothing more than an above-average Premier League side. There is a strong argument they are not even the best side on Merseyside these days.
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Paul Tisdale is not one to live off past glories, but his achievements at Exeter are not just confined to the pitch. We have enjoyed many highs with two Wembley trips, two promotions, League One doubles over the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic, that play-off win at Torquay United and the last-minute Johnstone's Paint Trophy success at Plymouth Argyle to name just a few, but the whole club is different to the one Tisdale first took charge of.
The changes at the training ground have been considerable.
The pitches are of a better quality, the facilities are better with separate cabins for the youth department, and the whole make-up of the "clubhouse" is far more professional and structured.
Even the car park has had tarmac put down, meaning Tisdale does not have to rid his latest Ted Baker leather shoes of the sticky, clay-like mud of east Devon!
At St James' Park, Tisdale has overseen the installation of a new pitch, so there are many changes to the foundations of the club which will stand it in good stead for many years to come. The role Tisdale has played in all of this should not be under-stated.
Unfortunately, many fans only judge a manager by what they see for 90 minutes on a Saturday, which is why there are dissenters right now. They are of a very small minority, but, as is often the case, they are vocal in their frustrations and the longer City's recent poor run went on, the louder those voices became.
After six years as manager, Tisdale declared it the end of the cycle. The likes of Dean Moxey, Danny Seaborne, George Friend, Ryan Harley and Matt Taylor, who were either kids or unknowns when the manager first took over, were long gone to clubs in the Premier League or Championship. A new cycle was to begin.
We are less than six months into that cycle. The likes of Scot Bennett, Liam Sercombe, Jordan Moore-Taylor, Aaron Dawson, Jake Gosling, Elliott Frear, Elliott Chamberlain, Jake Reid and Tom Nichols – the future of the new Grecians – have had a taste of what it is all about, but there is some way to go before many of those become established first teamers. In time, I am sure they will, and, come the end of the next cycle in another six years, I have every faith that they too will have progressed in the game as a new one starts.
Why? Because we have been there before and this is the first step to a longer-term goal. These are young players learning their trade either at Exeter or elsewhere. We have a manager that is a builder, someone in it for the long haul and whose emphasis is – and always will be – developing young players to represent Exeter City and sell on to keep the club financially stable.
Finally, I want to sign off from this piece to leave you with an interesting statistic to think about. After 17 games of the 2006-07 campaign, the beginning of Tisdale's first cycle, City had 26 points and were outside the Blue Square Premier play-offs zone. We all remember what happened next.
After 16 games of his second cycle, Exeter are only three points worse off with 23, but they find themselves two points adrift of the League Two play-offs pack. Perhaps the dissenters are voicing their disapproval too prematurely.