At the time of writing it wasn’t entirely clear whether Lee Bowyer jumped, was pushed, or jumped ahead of expecting to be pushed. It is reasonable to infer that as there was no club statement ready to be released, the news of his departure was not known in advance by Thomas Sandgaard, so a de facto sacking looks unlikely. More information will no doubt come to light, including whether the rumours of problems with some of the recent club appointments are true, whether if Bowyer goes to Birmingham as speculated he was tapped up, and of course who will take over, whether or not immediately.
My abiding feeling is one of sadness, that Bowyer was unable to overcome the many obstacles that stood between us and promotion this season. Such a departure is a reflection of failure. Whether anyone else could have succeeded is a moot point; equally it’s daft to suggest that his leaving was in any way inevitable. It matter little whether or not he’s lost this dressing room as come next season there will be an entirely new one. The only issues are whether TS felt he was the right man to oversee the restructuring of the team, whether Bowyer himself wanted that task, and related to that whether he has indeed another job lined up.
I don’t much care either that Bowyer took decisions on team selection, formation, substitutions etc that didn’t pay off. No manager can claim perfection on those fronts. What was far more important was whether he was learning from the experience. If a surgeon is about to operate on me the last thing I want to hear from him/her is ‘I’ve never made a mistake’; I’d much rather hear ‘I got this wrong and know why, never happened again’. We will now never know how he would have progressed with us, I hope he flourishes elsewhere (or has a great time back with the fish in la belle France).
At the very least Bowyer saw us through an exceptionally difficult period and gave us a fabulous day at Wembley. When the spivs claimed the left our club in better shape than they found it the claim was dubious; nobody can question that we are in a much better condition now than when Bowyer took over, even if we are still in the same bloody division. He contributed significantly to the revitalisation of the fans’ mood, once Duchatelet had been pushed into a back-seat role, and displayed a maturity that must still make those of us who remember him coming into the team as a scruffy (but very good) urchin chuckle. We will I’m sure always be grateful.
On the question of who next the only immediate option to speculate on is whether Curbs is a possible. If he is (wants the job, terms acceptable etc), I think it is a no-brainer, with the right support (and Curbs was always good at picking a No.2, if Johnnie Jackson departs and/or not felt to be the right guy). At the least I hope there’s a conversation.