By Ned Thomas


Over the last few months, I have warmed to Russell Slade being our manager more and more. He has always conducted himself well as well as taken the team to a decent league position. Very few of us would have expected us to be five points off the play-offs and in 8th place heading towards March.

Let’s remember when he arrived we had just spent a lot of money. The previous manager had brought in the likes of Adam Le Fondre, Sean Morrison and Anthony Pilkington amongst others. A lot of these players then seemed to lose interest when OGS lost his job. Almost as if they only joined because of the manager. It was then Slade’s job to try and get these players to play for him – a manager who had come from a team towards the bottom of League One.

Some of those players have stuck with us and are now playing for Slade such as Morrison, Pilkington and Bruno Manga. But last season would have been a struggle for any manager, because we didn’t feel like a proper team. Le Fondre never really got going and he was supposed to be one of the key players for us. You could say the same about others – Tom Adeyemi is especially one that springs to mind. Many thought we would struggle to stay up with Slade in charge, myself included, but in the end he comfortably took us to finish in mid-table.

He has never had a lot of funds to work with. Obviously this last transfer window was very good for him, considering the transfer embargo. To play the system and bring in the likes of Lex Immers, Tom Lawrence and Kenneth Zohore was very impressive. During his time at the club he’s brought in plenty of first team players now such as Scott Malone, Sammy Ameobi, Stuart O’Keefe and Lee Peltier. He’s also had a cope with the club insisting on selling important players – Kenwyne Jones is a good example of that. And let’s not forget the Tony Watt saga.

Now, I’ll be honest, at the start of this season I could not see us being above 14th/15th for much of the season. I was totally against Russell Slade as our manager. As recently as last month I was still criticising him at times. But time can sometimes help you read things differently.

As i said at the start, we are five points off the play-offs. Did anyone really expect us to be in this position at the start of the season? I didn’t. Slade deserves so much credit for that.

That is why Russell Slade has won me over. If I’m being totally honest, I never expected myself to say that. But the work he has done with us has been above most of our expectations. Whether we make the play-offs or not, whether he stays or moves on. I honestly believe he can be proud of his 18 months or so with us.