BANDWAGON ON TIM FLOWERS
Tim Flowers was a good Solihull Moors manager.
There. We’ve said it. And on stats alone, it’s a statement of fact. Tim achieved a lot at the Moors and left the club in a much better state than that in which he found it.
He and Mark Yates masterminded an incredible escape from nailed-on relegation, having inherited – let’s be honest – a mess left behind by the seemingly poor managerial appointments of Liam McDonald and Dickie Dosh. Then, left to fly solo, he piloted Moors to second in the league – just a couple of bum results against Boreham Wood and Dover and/or a last-gasp back-post header glanced wide against Leyton Orient short of winning the damn thing. That’s beyond incredible given Moors had probably planned and budgeted for mid-table stability last season.
Since then, things haven’t quite gone to plan. We should make no bones about the fact that we are now a bankrolled club and began this season with a promotion transfer and wage budget. The likes of McCallum and Howe were brought in at no small expense with the aim of competing for the league title. In fairness, we started out looking like contenders. Then, somehow, we didn’t.
The away game at Kelty Hearts sticks in the mind. Yes, it involved flying up to West Fife on the day and facing tough opposition in front of a bumper crowd, looking to prove a point against professional opposition. However, realistically, given the talent and resources at our disposal – and with no disrespect intended to our Lowland League opposition – we should’ve been smashing opposition like Kelty off the park. What followed was a game in which we were made to look very ordinary, and only squeaked through on penalties, following 90 minutes of inexplicable hoofball on a perfect 4G surface. One supporter accosted the coaches after the game and asked what the hell had happened. As far as they were concerned, it was plan executed, job done.
While Moors were a blood-and-thunder, bread-and-butter, play-to-your-strengths, honest football team last season, at least we looked capable of mixing it up and playing football when necessary. Look back at Stenson’s goal in the televised game at Braintree, or the 5-0 demolition of Maidstone. We had a range of players who could offer something different. This season, we seem to have strengthened the squad, but filled it with too many similar players. Then told them to go out and play long ball.
Another Scottish encounter sticks in the mind all too memorably, and that is the home penalty defeat to a Rangers youth side. Yes, they had a team full of age group internationals and an out-of-favour Albanian full international, but they also had an average age of 18 or 19. The extent to which they taught us a footballing lesson, and the way our players looked horribly unfit and out-of-sorts by the end, was frankly embarrassing. In hindsight, James Black’s assessment in these very pages that Tim Flowers’ post-match comments ‘smacked of a manager lacking in ideas’ seem entirely accurate. Perhaps Flowers was easier to defend back then. Sometimes it takes an outsider to see reality for what it is.
The increasingly staid football and poor results given the club’s aims and benchmarks were ultimately unsustainable. It does seem that Flowers was either too stubborn to change – with his preferred selections and tactics being endlessly repeated regardless – or was truly out of ideas. It feels – contrary to Jeff Stelling’s uninformed, inflammatory tweeting – that this was the right time for a change. If it’s true that Tim walked out of the 6-2 defeat at Tamworth (tellingly, at 6-0) and only stayed on until Sutton to wait for talks with the absent Darryl Eales, then evidently he felt he’d taken us as far as he could as well.
We can only reiterate what a good job he has done in the main. He is absolutely a victim of his own success, and the new benchmarks he has set, that he leaves under a cloud with the team ninth in the division, a game in hand, and narrowly short of the playoffs. The issue is that this season promised so much more, and it feels like the team are still in the race despite Tim Flowers rather than because of him. It’s fair to say we were lucky and overperformed in the table last season based on our overall play across the season. It’s also fair to say that, still, we looked far more convincing then than we do now.
Goodbye Tim, and all the best. Thank you for taking us to a place where we can realistically hope to be one of the big boys, rather than just dream.