Fan Opinion: Why We Should Back Bonner

Our match report yesterday was a pretty emotive piece, and it’s clear the fanbase is divided on whether Mark Bonner should stay or go. We’ve seen convincing and not-so-convincing arguments from both sides, and whilst our position is clear, there’s plenty of others who think we’re being hasty in calling for change, despite United having won just one League game since late October.

Believe us, no-one at UTAS wants to see Bonner fail. We want him to build a dynasty here, and lead this club on to further glory. Our respect for Mark and what he’s done is held in the highest regard, and he’s rightly going to be seen as a club legend for years to come. He’s built a great platform to do that from already, and last season looked like he might just do that, but all that work risks being undone now. We might yet be proven to be wrong, and if we are then we’re fine with that. But ask yourself in all honesty, where do you see the goals and performances coming from?

We invited U’s Fans to put across their reasons, and Martin Higgins (@m_a_higgins) sent across this article stating why he thinks Bonner is still the man for the job.

Football fans, being governed overwhelmingly by emotions, are a fickle bunch; U’s fans are no different, despite the intellectual reputation of the city. After the dismal run we’ve been on since the beginning of October, it’s no surprise that some noisy quarters are calling for Bonner to be sacked. This would be an absurd mistake and would condemn the club to the same repeated cycle of failure and mediocrity.

Admittedly, results and performances have been very poor. There are, though, extenuating circumstances for this that lie outside of Bonner’s control.

Firstly, this season was always going to be tougher than last. Given the current resources of the club in relation to our League One peers, staying up is always going to be somewhat of a miracle. We no longer have the element of surprise in this division.

Secondly, we have been crippled by injuries this season. The onset of this miserable run coincided with the loss of Adam May, an integral part of our side. Haunstrup, Rossi, Okenabirhie, Mitov and now Knibbs have all seen significant spells on the sidelines. Our squad simply doesn’t have the depth to cope with these losses. The effects work in two ways: directly, as their on-field contributions are missed; and indirectly, as those who are fit are not afforded any rest and thus become overly tired, while those who are not playing well cannot be dropped because there are no realistic replacements.

The more naïve among the Bonner Out mob might blame poor recruitment. Frankly, with the resources that we have, it’s extremely difficult to attract League One players to our club with our budget. Gems like Wes Hoolahan are extremely rare and he was always going to be impossible to replace. The long-term vision that the owners have is to build a sustainable club that can compete at this level or perhaps higher. Sacking Bonner will run counter to this.

There is nothing to suggest that bringing in a new boss will change things. Some might point to the ”post-sacking bounce” that seemingly occurs. This is a myth (see here). The likelihood is that whoever is brought in will not be able to improve results any more than Bonner would be able to, and such an appointment would be made purely with the short-term in mind, to the detriment of said long term vision of the club.

Bonner, despite the rubbish being spewed, is respected by the players. The drabness of the performances as of late, Tuesday night a prime example of this, has been attributed to the players lacking “fight” and “motivation”. Nonsense. Don’t confuse lack of confidence with lack of desire. One might argue that it is Bonner’s job to inspire confidence in a team. Perhaps, but that is only possible within the limits that a threadbare squad allows.

Recent decades in U’s history are littered with premature sackings that did very little to improve results. Roy McFarland’s sacking in 2001, for example, was the start of a sharp downward turn in the fortunes of the club. Even if we are relegated this season, I can’t think of any other manager more likely to lead us to success than Mark.

Bonner is a born leader and has the strength of character to ride out these tough times. Given the incredible memories he has given us in the past three years, he deserves our backing and loyalty.

2 thoughts on “Fan Opinion: Why We Should Back Bonner

Add yours

  1. In my opinion Paul Barry should come out and say Bonner is staying whatever happens, this is how we are running the club.
    Why can’t we be like Exeter and Rotherham who have stuck with a struggling manager in the past, got relegated and come back up.
    Bonner turned down the Rotherham job, we owe some loyalty back.

    Making a change now is to late and won’t make a difference.
    We have not been good enough in midfield all season, everything that can go wrong has.
    Bringing in players who can’t even play due to fitness ect ect.
    Bonner has made mistakes we don’t have a plan B but the squad is poor, the team has picked it’s self most of the season.
    We have player’s who are out of contract and likely not around next season who we need to try and give 100% but it doesn’t matter to them if they are not staying.
    The most frustrating thing is we seem to have given long contracts to our worst players who can’t get in the team or are never fit!!
    Lankaster for example.
    We are going down but we’ve had so many bad managers in the past I’d let Mark rebuild next season.


  2. Blimey, Martin’s opinions are a disheartening read. It seems he’s suggesting, that despite achieving near 6,000 average gates this season, including a regular home support if around 4,500-5,000 that we shouldn’t have expected the player recruitment to be better. The size of the squad is listed under factors outside Bonner’s control, despite him saying at the season’s outset that the small squad was his choice. I’m not sure what Martin’s assurances that the players respect Bonner and that no-one else could bring us (relative) success. I admire the happy clap mentality of blind faith, I really do. But the club has gambled on strategies that simply haven’t worked this season and there has been no plan B. Amazingly, the home and away support levels have held up very well, but the chance to capitalise on this and progress looks to have been squandered. The fault for that lies with the players and staff of the club.


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